All of the preparations have finally led to day zero. Yesterday was the big day. It is a real mile marker but, thankfully, wasn’t too eventful. In the morning they gave him dexamethazone, benedryl and tylenol. This is in preparation for any allergic reactions he might have to the preservative in the stem cell solution.
Some interesting things about the stem cells: They are put into a solution which is absorbed into the cells and replaces the water. This preservative doesn’t expand when it freezes and so this allows them to freeze and preserve the cells without destroying them. The cells are frozen and stored at -200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Dry ice is at -60)
The cells were delivered and thawed in a warm water bath in his room. When they put the cells back into your body, the preservative quickly dissolves and leaves your body. Within a few seconds, the patient can taste it in their mouth and those in the room can smell it. They had Stephen suck on hard candy to counteract the taste. It smells like canned corn! We call it the Niblets smell. His room smelled really strong the first day but the smell is fading. Following the transplant Stephen felt fine. The day proceeded fairly normally. (other than the Jazz were decimated!)
His blood counts have continued to drop as they should. His nutriphils are down from 2000 to 100. They are your main immune system. His white blood cell count is about .5 (7-10 thousand is normal) and his hematocrit is about 24. When his hematocrit gets below 24 they give him blood. I don’t recall the counts for platelets but when they get low they replace those as well. The other counts just build up as his body starts to produce it’s own blood cells again. Tonight he is feeling really weak and has a stomach ache. I guess this is the start of the aftermath of destroying everything. Time for the clean up to begin.
Hopefully nothing too unusual will happen but the next week will most likely be pretty crumby for him. He’s tough and he keeps using the old saying ‘this too shall pass.’