This past week has consisted mainly of watching the fatigue and (thankfully mild) nausea caused by the big hit of Cytoxan recede, and watching the anticipated side effects of the daily shots of Neupogen not take their place. These were headlined by bone pain; supposedly, in some patients this can be bad enough to require the administration of substantial quantities of pain relievers. I experienced some fleeting pangs in some of the joints of my fingers and in my knees, but otherwise nothing that I would have noticed were it not for the fact that I was consciously watching for it. So once again I can count myself fortunate in the area of side effects. Huong has been doing a fabulous job of flushing my catheter, changing the dressings left by the operation, and shooting me up with Neupogen.
On Thursday I began taking Cipro, a "broad spectrum" antibiotic, to defend against the danger of neutropenia. For the same reason, I am supposed to undertake a variety of additional precautions. In public places, I must wear an N95 respirator mask, which is substantially more effective than ordinary disposable surgical masks. I must temporarily cease flossing my teeth, to avoid allowing infections to enter via bleeding gums. And I have to wash my hands every time I turn around.
On Friday we returned to Baltimore and took up residence in an apartment in the cancer center's temporary housing facility. The advantages of this option versus the Tremont Hotel consist in its proximity to the cancer center (right across the street), and the fact that it has complete in-room kitchen and laundry facilities.
Today we began what will probably be the routine for at least the next several days. We appeared in the IPOP clinic at 7:30 A.M., where I had blood drawn; then we hung around for a couple of hours while a couple of dozen tests were run. Mainly, the team is looking at my blood cell counts daily, until they indicate that there are enough stem cells in my bloodstream to begin harvesting them. Unless they do, or unless there is some deficiency that must be remediated by hooking me up to an IV, I am then dismissed for the rest of the day.
There now, I'm finally caught up to the present.