Transfusions & Pneumonia

Things are better tonight after an active day at the hospital. John started the day with a shower and scrubbed so hard his hair fell out (or maybe that was the chemo doing the scrubbing). We decided that one big mess was preferable to several days of small ones, and went for the shaver. Since he didn’t have a lot of hair to start with, it only took a few minutes to expose his beautiful, bald (and blindingly white!) pate. We may or may not post pictures – not too sure they are in good taste.

Looking fat, ugly, and bald
Looking fat, ugly, and bald

Numbers from the blood draws came in throughout the day. Whites on the rise and reds on the decline, with a resulting drop in hematocrit to the borderline reading of 26. No longer neutropenic, but definitely feeling the effects of the low hematocrit. The good (actually great) news came in the afternoon when the CD-34 reading came back. John’s number was 150; the baseline they look for to start apheresis is 10. So, he’s more than ready to go.

But wait a minute – he’s still running a fever. In steps the PA (Physician’s Assistant to you lay readers) to assure us that the stem cell collection can go forward, anyway, as his infection is not in the blood. So . . . assuming all goes well through the night, tomorrow morning at 7am Pacific John will get hooked up to the apheresis machine (in the hospital) and start the stem cell collection. Think millions!

He is getting a transfusion of red blood cells tonight to bring up those numbers, and hopefully improve his hematocrit and energy. He hopes to get discharged from the hospital tomorrow afternoon, but we are learning not to hold on to too many expectations. The rule is he has to go 24 hours without a fever, and at this hour he still has one, so my guess is they won’t let him go. Obviously his body is still fighting the pneumonia, but hopefully the fever will break soon.  

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