Friday, February 22, 2008

Day Zero

Sleet, snow, and freezing rain seemed a inauspicious way to start an important day for Henry. Today is considered Day Zero, or the day he gets his stem cells, that were harvested from him 3 months ago, put back into his body. Bryan and the girls will be spending the day at home while Henry and I experience this next step in the journey.

We both had a pretty good night. His fluids have been able to be cut back to “maintenance”, or the amount of fluids you need in a day. During chemo therapy he gets “twice maintenance” to help flush the chemo through his kidneys. We love the kidney flushing part, but not so much the peeing every 45 minutes all night part. We’re glad to be done with chemo.

On Wednesday of this week, Henry and I, for entertainment purposes, had our own private “Crazy Sock Day” that impressed our rounding team. I let them know ahead of time that today was going to be “Crazy Hat Day”, and they joined in the fun! Thanks to all the doctors and nurses here who go out of their ways to make Henry and the other children laugh a little. Unfortunately, Henry had a mild case of the grumpies this morning, and pulled his doggie hat over his face the whole time they were in here. Since they left, though, he’s enjoyed talking about them and looking at the picture we snapped.

We’ve gotten mixed signals on the transplant. On the one hand, everyone tells us that it’s just like hanging another bag of medication, which runs in uneventfully. On the other hand, everyone we see is saying things like “Today’s the big day!”. In addition, the nurse brought in a little baggie containing meds for cardiac arrest resuscitation and equipment for ventilation, and told me that he’ll be on a cardiac monitor for an hour before and after the transplant. I’m certain that it’s all a big better-safe-than-sorry routine, but I can’t say it doesn’t make me a little nervous.

Day Zero, part 2

Well, the runup to the tranplant was truly more exciting than the transplant. It took about an hour of premedication and preparation to get him ready, then the 10 mL of his own stem cells ran in over about ten minutes. They've monitored his vitals frequently over the last few hours, but everything has gone great.

The stem cells are stored in a preservative called DMSO, which has a very distinctive smell. The DMSO gets excreted through the lungs, so he emits a very strange odor on his breath. That should go on for a couple of days. I was mostly concerned about it bothering him, but he doesn't seem to notice it. I don't find it offensive (some people do) but I'm not planning on suggesting an air freshener line with it.

The stem cells circulate in his blood for a few days before settling in his marrow, where they'll take root and begin producing white blood cells to replenish his immune system. So now we wait for that to happen over the next two weeks. He'll be staying in the hospital for safety until his body is ready to take over on it's own.


Femail doc said...

I feel like I'm there with you. Been thinking about you all day and wish all Schecks an uneventful Day One and beyond!

Anonymous said...

Hello Tara and Henry,
I'm so glad things seem to be going well, u all r such strong people and Henry strongest of them all. Just checking up on u Henry. Thinking of u all always.

Anonymous said...

Hi Henry! I have been thinking of you all day too! I bet the crazy hat day was a lot of fun. I sent you a picture on the blog email. Hope you like it.


Anonymous said...

Go stem cells!

rlbates said...

Hope all goes well. Glad you have the crazy socks and hats to make you smile. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Crazy Hat Day sounds like fun! I want to see pictures!

Tara, I hope the days continue to go well for Henry and you. Thank you for keeping us all updated.
We care so very much!

With love,
Cousin Susan H.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like things are progressing well thus far. We hope that continues and that the rest of this hospital stay is uneventful. Crazy socks and hat day sounds like a lot of fun. Good thinking Tara! Take care - we wish you all the best.

Julie, Brad, Patrick, Andrew & Samantha

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, DMSO! Some say it smells like cream corn or garlic. I thought it smelled like liver! Transplant day is a "big day" when you think about it being a "rebirth" of your body's cells. Truly amazing how medical science has advanced to the point that high dose chemo can occur then the stem cells miracously rebirth the body. We continue to send prayers and best wishes....and we thank God and science for the opportunity that stem cell transplants provide. We love you, Debbie and Bob

Granya said...

Great picture, good sports, intermittent fun and scientific research - a winning combo!

Anonymous said...

Tara and Bryan,
Please don't stop sending out information. This is REALLY happening to Henry. Nothing sugar coated, as any parent of a child w/ cancer will tell you. So keep it up. My heart breaks for you all, but can't tell you how much your bravery and love means.
Miss Susan