It's good to be back.

I wanted to take a little time to say I'm back.  As many of you know, I have Multiple Myeloma, which is a type of cancer.  This specific cancer is immunological in nature and I've been fighting it for about a year now (one year this past September).  This past September, September 13 to be exact, I went in for what I hope is the final major treatment; Stem Cell Replacement Therapy.

This treatment has two phases.  In the first phase they extract and collect some of your own stem cells, which for me totaled a little over 8 million.  No, they don't burrow a large needle into your marrow and draw them out.  They chemically induce your cells to multiple and then put your blood through what looks like a dialysis machine to siphon them off.  That's the easy part.  Phase two..Not liking it so much.

Phase two is where it gets nasty.  I had two helpings of a rather power chemical called Melphelan.  This basically cleans out everything in your bone marrow, including your own stem cells.  See, I was in remission prior to this procedure, which was where you want to be.  The hope is the Melphalan will remove what Myeloma is left hiding in your marrow (which is where it infiltrates) and put you into 'durable remission'.  That was day 1 and 2 and I am still feeling fine.  On day 3, I get some of those previously collected stem cells back.  This process has a bit of discomfort as my body reacts to the preservative mixed in with the stem cells; DimethylSulfoxide.

Nausea, instant fever, flush face, back of my throat became scratchy.  It was brutal, but only lasted for about 10 min; the time it took for the Dr. to inject the stem cells.  Now the fun begins.  Over the next 16 days, I began to feel like absolute and utter crap.  Part way into the 16 days I lost my appetite.  I had no desire to get up out of bed, eat, watch TV, or even play Playstation.  The Melphalan was beginning to rear its ugly head.  It destroys all fast dividing cells, which include hair follicles (I shaved my head first :) ) and your entire digestive tract.  You guessed it, days upon days of ....<the D word>..  My sense of smell became so heightened I became sick as soon as they opened the door with food.

For the process to be effective my white blood cell count has to drop to 0 or near 0, then reverse.  This shows that my own stem cells are taking over.  Remember on day 3, when the Dr. gave me back my stem cells?  It takes 10 days for them to float through your body, find your long bones,settle in your marrow and begin reproducing themselves and the necessary components.  These components include white blood cells, stem cells, red blood cells, and platelets.  Yep, that's a lot of things to have to rebuild and it took me 16 days before they would release me.  I have been told that is rather quick as there are some patients there for upwards of a month.  I would have killed many an innocent of that were my case.

I came home in the beginning of October, which is one my recover truly began.  I spent the next two weeks sleeping for most of the day and my appetite did not return until the second week in October.  I lost 30lbs during the ordeal.  Now I'm back, with a few restrictions.  For 100 days I have the following restrictions; No fresh fruit or vegetables, no restaurant food and, oh yeah..no TRAVEL!!!  Once again, I am prevented from going to PASS.  This is because I am considered immuno-compromised.  While I am healthy enough to be out of the hospital a simple cold or virus can put me right back in.  Looks like PASS next year..

I had my brother with me during the week and my wife and mother stayed during the weekend and it was an incredible boost.  I can't imagine going through it without family with you.  I wanted to thank everyone for the prayers and well wishes.  It's good to be back.