What a few days! Corey was released from the hospital Friday, after testing negative for any kind of viral infection. He never even registered a fever on any of their thermometers, but he ended up being pretty happy he’d been admitted with how the pain hit him Thursday. And with ZERO immune system, you can’t be too careful.
A room opened up and we were able to get moved over to the transplant housing, and we’re pretty blessed to have ended up with the top floor, corner apartment. Looks like Corey joking around about, “Save me the penthouse!” when they added us to the waiting list paid off! What a view, huh?
We had clinic appointments Saturday morning early and they drew labs to see where all his counts were. They called Saturday afternoon with the exciting news that his white blood cell count had skyrocketed and that his stem cells had recovered enough since the last round of chemo to do stem cell collection on Sunday. This has been the goal of the growth factor shots he’s been receiving for the past 8 days, to beef up his stem cells enough to remove a bunch of them for the transplant. The growth factor shots are the ones that cause the pain, so having enough cells for collection means no more growth factor shots!
Stem cell collection, or apheresis, is where they remove the blood from the body through a machine that withdraws the blood and separates it into plasma and platelets. They circulate it and pull out the plasma/stem cells, then reintroduce what they don’t use back into Corey’s body. They collect one million cells for every kilogram of weight, so they’re collecting roughly 112,300,000 stem cells today.
No big deal.
Mischa, one of the Physician Assistants we’ve been seeing since the very beginning (we first met her when Corey’s glucose came back at 38 that first day), and Claudia came by to go over the tests from Saturday and were excited to see their “SUPERHUMAN” patient. I like these two ladies because they’re very animated and they don’t deliver news or information in a monotone way. They shared that Corey’s stem cell count was at 217 (I think million?), and they needed roughly 20 (again, maybe million?) to collect. This number had been below 5 just a couple days ago (it drops way low after chemo) and they were both kind of dumbfounded, saying they’d never (remember, they’re very animated) seen a count that high on any patient they’d ever worked with. Even our apheresis nurse said the highest patient she’d ever worked with was at 107.
This was awesome news because it means Corey has way more than enough stem cells to collect for at least two (maybe even three?) transplants, and that his immune system right now is normal! Woohoo! Not that I’m going to let him saunter around Pikes’s Market this afternoon, but maybe we’ll stop in at Starbucks. I just won’t let him touch anything… Anyway, great news all around!! And, once again, you know how I see it. Another miracle to chalk up to a Great Big God.
The count of 217, however, was also quite likely the reason he was in such a tremendous amount of pain last week. She likened it to stuffing softballs into a pillowcase. You can only stuff so many in before it starts tearing the pillowcase apart (figuratively, not literally).
So as we settle in for this five-hour process on this beautiful Sunday, we’re the only patients in the entire apheresis lab, Seahawks football is on, it’s a partly sunny/partly cloudy beautiful fall afternoon, we have an incredible view and an incredible view to go “home” to, and life feels peaceful. Well, as peaceful as it can be when you’re having 112,300,000 stem cells extracted from your superhuman self.