Deb is now at Day +3 (Saturday) and in the recovery stage, which begins after the stem cell infusion. Her blood counts have dropped as her existing cells are dying off and her body is not yet making new cells. When her hemoglobin falls below 8.0, Deb receives a red blood cell transfusion. She had her first transfusion Thursday night and is receiving her second one tonight. When her platelets drop below 10, she will receive a platelet transfusion. The platelets were at 24 tonight, so she will likely need platelets in a day or two. During her three chemotherapy treatments from October to February, Deb received about 30 transfusions, so this is nothing new. Many thanks to the people who have donated their blood to allow Deb and others to continue their recovery.
Some people have asked about side effects so far. Deb has experienced some mild nausea, which got a bit worse today. There are several medications given to help prevent and relieve the nausea. Deb’s throat has been tight and she’s had a little trouble swallowing some things, but is still able to eat and drink. She’s had some gastro issues and headaches, but nothing severe. After her second chemotherapy treatment in December, Deb developed an arrhythmia, an extra abnormal heartbeat, called a PVC (premature ventricular contraction). This has recurred after her current chemo treatments. Deb has had several EKGs and the doctors don’t see anything of concern, and say that this is fairly common and will likely go away in the future.
The biggest reaction Deb had was to the clinical trial drug for Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD), which I talked about in an earlier post. It took several days for her to get back to normal after that, but this seems to be pretty well resolved now.
All in all, Deb is doing well, but the next few weeks are critical. With her low white cell counts she is very susceptible to infections of any kind. These can come from within her own body – bacteria and fungi that we all have and are not a problem to us become a problem when the body has no white cells to fight them. Fevers and infections are common at this time. The doctors will also be looking for signs of GVHD, which usually occurs within the first 100 days after transplant.
Deb was moved into a private room last night which is so much nicer, and she has a lovely view of the atrium garden. Stanford does a great job with uplifting gardens, fountains and landscaping, as you can see in the photos that I’ve included here.