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January 19, 1999 - First Days at Duke

Karen's High Dose Chemo Diary

First Days at Duke

To: wellness < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: First Days at Duke
From: Harry Patterson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 21:17:00 -0500

Karen, my son Drew, our 75 pound golden retriever Midas and I arrived in Durham, NC last night after a six hour ride. We were all a little on edge at the beginning of the High Dose chemo process that was about to begin. Today we brought Karen to the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic at 9:00 to have some lab work done. We should have figured the day would not go well when the nurse taking Karen's blood pinched her arm pretty good with the rubber strap. We next moved to the primary clinic area where Karen would receive another shot of Neupogen to encourage the growth of her stem cells (third in three days). The clinic is very new and extremely pleasant, but seeing the other women lying there tired and drawn, who had obviously recently gone through the HDC made Karen a little nervous. We watched a quick movie on how to care for the Hickman catheter Karen was going to receive later. It was informative and fairly tame after going through as much as we have over the past two years. I think the Jackson Pratt drain after axillary dissection is more traumatic, although this new one needs more care to prevent infection.

We drove down the street to the main hospital where Karen would have her old Porta Cathe (her second one that was installed under her skin to get chemo) removed and the new Hickman Catheter (outside your skin, kind of a fish tank tube with multiple ends) installed for the next treatments tomorrow and the next 3-5 weeks) The catheter allows all blood, shots, chemo, etc to be administered in the tubes, without having to stab her arms every day. She went in for prep at 11:00 and by 11:30 after assuming she had begun Drew and I left for lunch and to bring Drew back to the hotel. I arrived back at the hospital by 1:00 when Karen should have been done and was told she had just been brought in to the operating room (after sitting in prep that long) and would not be in recovery for at least 2 hours. I proceeded to go to the library and do some research to kill time. I wandered back to the waiting area at 3:00 to find she was still not ready. A doctor came out to tell me they had trouble removing the old catheter and were just beginning the installation of the new one (another 1 1/2 hours) I proceeded to go back to get Drew and bring him back with me. We finally saw Karen back in recovery at 5:00. Another doctor told us that they had trouble removing a piece of the catheter that was embedded in her skin from what must have been her first catheter of two years ago. Somehow a piece was left behind, I don't know how, but it caused problems both to remove and to install the new one. To make a long story not so long she is resting quietly beside me in the hotel after a long day.

Tomorrow will be another 6 hour day of Pheresis. This should be just boring as they hook her up to the equipment that will gather her stem cells to be frozen and replaced after her high dose chemo treatments. I know for some of you this may be much more information than you needed to know. It is our way of documenting the process, helping others understand it and letting a lot of others concerned about Karen know how she is doing.

Harry Patterson


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