Stem cell collection

Posted on November 26th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Today was exhausting. Gave my last injection of growth hormone this morning when I got up. We then went straight to the hospital where I had a blood test to see if my white cell count and stem cell count was high enough. They needed a concentration of 10 or 11 for my stem cells. Mine came in at 111. That is good. It meant that I only had to go in on one day to have the collection done and not go back tomorrow.
It still took four and a half hours on a machine that sucks my blood out of one arm, spins it, and collects the right part of the juice. It processes 1mL per minute, so at the end of the procedure, we had about 300 or so mL. Seems like a lot of work for an amount less than a can of coke.
The most painful part of the process was trying to have a whiz. It is just not natural to be half-laying down in a bed, watching Dr Phil, with only a thin curtain to separate me from the busy clinic on the other side. The pee-bottle tells you that it will look after everything, but your brain tells you are going to wet the bed. So it didn’t happen. Then I tried to stand up, but the pain in my spine, the dizzyness and the mental block that occurs when you feel like you are standing in the middle of a room trying to pee (once again, quite unnatural), it just wasn’t going to be. So I stuck it out (I mean put up with it) for the next hour and watched the clock tick away. Needless to say that I was relieved to be disconnected from the machine.
So now I am very tired. I have already had a sleep this afternoon, but still lethargic. There is something about having your entire volume of blood extracted, spun, and returned a few times that takes it out of you. Literally.


New Australian Government

Posted on November 25th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

For those of you who are overseas, Australia has a new Prime Minister. I find Australian politics frustrating at the best of times. There has to be a better model of governance for Australia, and a change is way overdue. This topic can be for another time, but for now, an observation or two.

As I was listening to the leaders’ speeches, I couldn’t help but compare how the often the Candidates’ words fell to the ground. We can research famous speeches in history and they are recorded verbatim. They were most probably delivered to an expectant audience who paid respect to the speaker by holding back their comments at least until the speech had finished. Not so with last night’s attempts. I felt that statements of historical importance were lost to an audience who interjected and couldn’t hold back their own speeches while the Candidates (especially John Howard) often struggled to get their words out. If John Howard’s speech ends up recorded in text books for our future generations, it may look like this: “I would like to.. please, please, please (as he tries to hush the ‘supporters’), take this opportunity.. please, please… to ..please…” etc. I think 99.9% of people with teaching backgrounds may have been watching with frustration as they are reminded of what it is like regain control in a Year 4 class after little Johnny farts accidently (apologies to you if your name is Johnny).

I personally don’t vote for a party, I vote for a leader. Unfortunately for the ousted government, the leadership didn’t move on issues regarding reconciliation, the environment, education, war, health and immigrants seeking asylum. I am not saying they did a terrible job overall, but there needs to be some serious pant kicking in these areas, whoever holds power. It will be interesting to see how the next term goes.

1 comment.

Annoying Little Prick

Posted on November 23rd, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. I was dreading the self-injecting. I took about half an hour yesterday to work myself up to taking the cap of the syringe. I take my hat off to folk that do this as a part of their normal lives. I had two nurses on standby, Elizabeth and our friend Chris from Melbourne. Another friend who is also from Melbourne, Bonnie, is staying just down the road. She is also a nurse. So I had 3 nurses ready to go in case it went disasterously wrong. The number for the medivac helicopter was on speed-dial and the defibrillator was charged and ready to go.
I finally shot up, pushing the tiny needle into my belly, and it was surprisingly painless. I don’t know why everyone was over-reacting. So this is my routine, twice a day until Monday when the harvesting takes place.
My body is aching now though. I woke up this morning feeling my heartbeat through my spine. It is amazing what we humans do for kicks.


Ok, break’s over.

Posted on November 19th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Just when I thought I could relax. This week reminds me that I am straight back into it. I visited the Haematologist today, stem cell harvest consultant straight after, Oncology Wednesday, bone density scan on Thursday, growth hormone injections also start on Thursday, haircut on Saturday, blood test on Monday, and depending on my stem cell count, the harvesting will be done on Monday afternoon, dentist on Tuesday, waxing on Wednesday, depending on my chest hair count.

The stem cell harvesting can apparently be a little painful. The process is fascinating though. Beginning this Thursday, I give myself two injections daily of growth hormone to make the stem cells in my marrow grow rapidly. They then get a little short of space in my bones and head to my blood stream. A dialysis-like machine then takes them out of my blood and they are stored in case I need them for later infusions.

I am relieved that my haematologist has decided to go with the growth hormone option rather than the chemotherapy option. Its not that I have something against the injection of toxic chemicals into my body to make me sick, mind you. It is just that there is something about pushing a needle into my substantial belly twice a day for 5 days with a growth hormone that will make my body ache, then spending a few hours on a machine that pumps out the blood in my body only to pump it back in seconds later after having its way with it – can’t wait!

Who said blondes have more fun?

Here is a happy snap of my bald patch post radiotherapy. I’m yet to find a hairpiece that fits just right. The comb-over works to a certain extent, but windy days are going to be a problem.
You can see a blue tattoo dot close to the bottom of the photo. There is another tattoo just like it on my groin. It would be the easiest dot-to-dot, but rather uncomfortable with a sharp pencil.

Click to enlarge



Posted on November 14th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Arrived home yesterday and was back at work today. I feel mentally recharged but my body is taking its time to catch up. Elizabeth also found the break really refreshing and now we are getting back into the swing of things. I think the most refreshing part was being out of phone range and not having an appointment to go to. Just having a break from the usual clinical surroundings has allowed us to forget about the situation for a bit. We were also able to talk over our plans for the rest of the year and into next. At the moment, I am feeling well and really excited to get back onto my projects. Bring it on.


Facing my failures.

Posted on November 7th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I have a confession to make. Many of you have witnessed my shortcomings and stupid mistakes, my lack of judgement and spontaneous idiocy. I have lapsed once again. I am not proud of this latest mishap, but I believe it is best to share this now rather than you all find out when dirt gets dug up in the future. If you hear rumours, I would like to set the facts straight now. I had a facial.

I hope you appreciate how difficult this is for me to talk about. It was not a premeditated decision. I didn’t hear about other guys having facials and get jealous. It was just one of those things that happend and you live with the consequences. It is something that just happens when you are not in your home-town and you think no one will see you or find out. To be fair, it was advertised as a ‘face massage’ as Libs and I walked past the shop front, and for half an hour they were advertising a special price. During temptation, you are meant to run, not weigh up the pros and cons. Next time, I will run.

Now I am not saying that facials for guys are of the devil, they are just not for me. I have a strong dislike for any substance being on my face, any lotion, sun protection cream (although this I endure), etc. So, for me, this was the longest half-hour of my life. Just when I thought the procedure had finished, they would subject me to another lotion. I left feeling used and exhausted after being tight with tension for half an hour.

I am not proud of what I have done, but ask for your understanding and compassion through this difficult time. I have found hip biopsies more relaxing.


Out of office reply.

Posted on November 2nd, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

We have gone missing for a while and will be back in two weeks. Therefore, my posts will be a little random and sporatic. This just confirms that absolutely nothing will change over the next two weeks.


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