Jason’s Adventures in Little Rock II

Since October, I’ve been continuing my treatments (daily thalidomide; weekly steroids and Velcade; and Daratumamab every other week) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA. These meds have knocked out over 90% of the myeloma so far, but when I started the treatment it was with the understanding that I would return to Little Rock after 4–6 months for stem cell collection because there are good reasons to do a stem cell transplant at some point (maybe soon) and it’s important to collect the cells early in the treatment process. So here we are! Mom and Dad arrived Sunday and I flew in Monday night (Chad and Colin are staying in LA). I found a better house this time (recently remodeled and with 3 bedrooms and — more important — a big dining room table where Mom can work on her puzzles).

On Tuesday I had a procedure where a doctor installed a “central line” in my neck (unpleasant but easier than I expected) that has 3 access points for nurses to draw blood and give me meds by infusion. On Wednesday (yesterday) they hooked me up to two bags of real chemo (not the “pseudo-chemo” that I’ve been on so far) that I will carry around in what looks like a camera bag for 4 days. Every day I will go to the hospital where nurses will check my bloodwork and replace the empty chemo bags.

So far so good (relatively speaking of course!) but the nurses say I may start feeling worse in a few days as the chemo starts pushing down my blood counts. I will also need to be extra careful to avoid possible infections (even more than I am now — and yes that’s actually possible). The goal is to knock down my white blood cells (and the myeloma) and then they will boost my white counts with more drugs and collect my stem cells for transplant (either in the next month or so or, if I choose, some later time in the future if/when the other meds I’ve been on stop working). That’s a huge decision point that I’ve been contemplating for months and will resolve after we finish stem cell collection.

One of the side effects of this chemo “cocktail” is I will lose my hair, so in anticipation I got a crew cut. Colin didn’t even notice it until I pointed it out. And I wasn’t wearing a hat. I’m guessing bald will be more obvious!

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