I had to go in to Alta Bates for the first injection so that they could monitor me and make sure that I didn't have any kind of adverse reaction. I had actually just started a new job at Wells Fargo the day before. They knew that I would be missing some of Friday and all of Tuesday before they hired me though.
Laurie at Alta Bates gave me the injection and also drew some more blood (of course).
"I've never seen a bad reaction to Filgrastim before," she said, "but we have to follow the protocol and make you stick around for at least fifteen minutes."
The shot was subcutaneous (just under the skin) and she gave it to me in the upper back of my left arm.
"I have to do this slowly so that it won't burn as much," she said as she stuck the needle in my arm. I could feel what she meant, but it really didn't hurt that badly. It just took longer than most shots.
It went fine and I didn't feel any different at all. So they let me go. Now I just had to wait for side effects.
On the BART ride back into the city, I tried to read but I remembered that nausea was a possible side effect. Just knowing that made me feel a little ill, so I just contented myself with people watching.
The rest of the work day went fine and I didn't feel anything but normal. Later that evening, I got a headache, but I couldn't tell if it was because of the hormone or just a normal headache.
The next morning, a nurse named Cindy came over to my house for the next injection. I thought that was very accomodating of the hospital. Cindy was very friendly and easy to talk to. She made me a little nervous when she mentioned that she had never done this before. But she immediately clarified that by saying that she had never been part of this program before -- she had given injections many times. Whew.
She was actually very good and neither of the shots were painful. Yes, she gave me two -- one in each arm. But I liked it better that way. They were shorter in duration than the one at Alta Bates.
"Your right arm doesn't bleed as much as your left arm."
"Your left arm was bleeding a little after I gave you the shot, but I can't even tell were I poked your right arm. I don't know where to put the band-aid."
We talked a little about Harry Potter and life in San Francisco, but she had to go to her next victim. A woman in Orinda named Lynn is going through the same procedure at the same time as me. In fact, we may get to sit next to each other for the procedure.
That was Saturday and it went fine until around 4:30 pm; that's when my back started to ache.
"Oh, this is what they mean by the whole achey bone thing...," I said to the people in my house. My lower back felt like it had a headache. That sounds strange, I know.
I took an ibuprofen and the pain became barely noticeable after a while.
On Sunday morning, when Cindy came over for my next shots, I told her about the acheyness. She wrote it down, took my temperature, checked my blood pressure and all that. "Happens to practically everyone," she stated.
She told me about her horrible drive to Orinda and the terrifying Caldecott Tunnel.
On her way out the door, I offered her half of my bagel, but she declined politely.
I was achey for pretty much the whole day, but it was low level and didn't really bother me. Mostly I just thought it was interesting to note how my body was reacting to the Filgrastim. Isn't it weird what we can make our bodies do? You need more stem cells in your blood? No problem, just trick it into thinking that you have a massive infection and it'll release buckets of them into your circulatory system.
Today, I went into the blood center on Bush St. before work for my last injection. Well, not really last because they're going to give me another one right before the procedure, for some strange reason. I don't see how that one will really have time to make any difference. Oh well.
They needed to take some more blood (of course) to see if the hormone was doing its job. I swear, I must have given them a whole body's worth of blood by now.
Cindy told me that she might try to make it to Alta Bates to see Lynn and me during the procedure.
At work, I started to feel achey again and I took an ibuprofen. The pain pretty much went away. I'm glad that the acheyness has been so mild and easily treatable.
So I've been working out my forearms every day and drinking tons of water in the hopes that they'll be able to use the veins in my arms. Cindy told me on Sunday that my veins actually look pretty good and she didn't think that I would have any problems. Cool.
I have to get up early tomorrow for the trip out to Alta Bates in Berkeley. The apheresis is scheduled to begin at 8:15 am. Maybe I'll just sleep through it. Hopefully I'll be able to read, though.
They should really get a TV in there.
Anyway, I'm actually looking forward to it. It's kind of exciting and I'm glad that I'm able to help someone with leukemia.