Now, if that title doesn't draw you in, nothing ever will. We'll get to that in a minute. To begin, today like yesterday was a very long day. Justin and I left the house at 5:45 this morning in order to get down to UCLA by 7 am. I had to get there early in order for them to check me out to see if I needed platelets. Justin dropped me off and went to work, whereas I had to go and get blood drawn. Turns out that my platelet level increased overnight to a level where they didn't have give me anything after all. So, I had an hour and a half to kill before my 9:45 appointment. I read/slept in the lobby until it was time, and then I made my way up to the hemaphoresis clinic. (This is where the story gets way more interesting.)
This was the morning for the beginning, and hopefully the end, of my stem cell harvest. It's important to know that in order for them to harvest cells, they either have to be able to get to veins in each arm to draw from, or they have to put in a catheter. Well, of course, they couldn't get a vein in my right arm, and the picc line wasn't an option, so they had to put another catheter in me....in my groin. Yes....I said groin. Now, this is going to get mildly graphic, so you have been warned.
As soon as I made it to the clinic and signed the consent forms, I was then instructed to remove everything from the waist down. It's also important to know that the clinic is set up in a square with a nurses desk in the center, and 5 beds spaced around 2 of the walls. There's nothing like knowing that a thin hospital blanket is all that is separating the goods God gave you from a room full of people. Anyways, the Doctor eventually showed up and inserted the groin catheter. It's inserted into a vein in your groin, in the crease between your thigh and your privates. Once he was done, I had these two giant tubes sticking out of my groin which they hooked up to the stem cell collection machine. The look of the machine is reminiscent of a dialysis machine, but it works in a different way. Because of the tubes and the placement of the catheter, I had to remain sans clothes for the entire 5 hours of stem cell harvesting. It meant that if I had to pee within that time period, it meant bedpan. Now, do you think I managed to hold it for 5 hours? Of course not. So, finally I told the nurse that I had to go and she brought over the bed pan. Now, I've never used one before, so I was unclear on how exactly it worked. She had me lift up my butt with my legs, and she put underneath me a bed pan and told me to go. There I was, in some sort of yoga position, holding myself up on a bedpan, and the physics of the angles of the thing meant pee was going everywhere before hitting the pan. And, of course, the nurse was called away mid-stream, so I spent 3 minutes holding myself precariously over a plastic tub of my own urine, willing it not to spill anywhere and hoping my legs would continue to hold. Fortunately, she returned before anything more catastrophic happened then the loss of the remaining shreds of my dignity. Eventually, that was cleaned up, and the harvest continued.
Finally, after 4 hours I finished my harvest for the day. Since we are not sure if we got all the cells we need yet, they had to leave the groin catheter for the night. The nurse wrapped the tubes in gauze and then wrapped it in that bandage stuff which you get when you give blood. Then, I was allowed to finally put on my pants. However, I then noticed an "interesting" result of this. When I put on my pants, because of how the tube was wrapped and the placement, it appeared that I had a male bulge in my pants. Hence the hermaphrodite comment. And, if you think that i am exaggerating, I will have you know that Justin burst out laughing as soon as he saw it. I think I said earlier that during my bedpan incident I lost the remaining shreds of my dignity. That was incorrect. It was at the point that I noticed my new appendage that I actually lost the remaining shreds of dignity. Therefore, I will not be going out in public until it is removed, which will hopefully be tomorrow.
Tomorrow they will hopefully removing my picc line and my groin catheter and replacing it with a chest catheter. So, hopefully my self esteem will rise again tomorrow. One can only hope. And maybe you got a giggle at my expense...someone really should.