Not too much to report here. On days -5 thru -2 of the conditioning chemotherapy regimen, I get the same 2 drugs at the same time each day. Etoposide and Cytarabine for an hour each starting at around 9 and then another hour of Cytarabine again at 10PM. Etoposide was part of the ICE regimen I was getting leading up to the transplant but this time I'm at 4x the dose. This is the drug that was making me puke in the hospital before but so far I've tolerated it much better this time. Weird. Still came down with the chemo hiccups on the second day of treatment but we've found a drug that seems to help settle that down pretty well. Drugs on top of drugs...that's the story of my life now.
The goal of the conditioning regimen is to a) kill any remaining cancer that may be lurking and b) suppress my bone marrow, ie kill my immune system. This second "goal" is monitored by daily counts of my white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets. Left alone with this chemotherapy, they would go to 0 which would mean I'd be dead because, at the very least, if there's no hemoglobin, there's no oxygen in your bloodstream. That means that at a certain point, close to 0 (?) they have to start giving me transfusions of blood while I'm still getting the chemo. This ensures that I remain "viable" while waiting for the conditioning regimen to finish up and the transplant to be performed. Am I worried about this process...oddly no. I continue to feel disconnected from the potential risks associated with it. Maybe as the chemo continues and my condition starts to deteriorate as an expected part of the process, it will start to sink in a bit more. Right now though, not nearly as scary or adrenaline pumping as getting charged by a brown bear.
One of the things they tell you will help you deal better and get out faster is to try to remain as active as possible. I've made it a point to walk at least a mile each day while in here (26 laps = 1 mile) and I've even snuck out of the unit a few times to walk the stairs because walking in circles is BORING. It's only been 3 days and I can't wait to get the F out. I asked the doctor today what the record was for getting out of here post transplant. Provided there are no complications from my radiation burn, my goal is to at least equal that record.
Oh, also, I had another PET scan right before I came in for the transplant, and although they were telling me the effects of the radiation treatment would not be visible for a couple more weeks, they actually were. The nodes in my armpits are gone, ANNIHILATED by the radiation. That means that I can say I went into transplant cancer free, in remission, which means a lot to me because it offers a significantly better long term prognosis. Less chance of another relapse.