My body isn't making white blood cells as quickly as it was in past weeks. It's probably because of the Rituxan that I had last week. The purpose of the Rituxan was to kill any cancerous cells that might have been floating around in my body before they did the harvest. I continue with the Neupogen shots each morning, and I'm feeling some aching in my back today, which is a good sign that I'm making white cells.
The harvesting process wasn't too bad. I was pretty apprehensive this morning, but once the procedure began I was able to relax. Now that I know what to expect, I won't be as anxious tomorrow.
They used the central line to take blood from my body. The blood went through the machine, which separated it into layers. They programmed the machine to take out the stem cell layer, which it did. It can't take out just the stem cells, but also takes some red and white cells and platelets along with the cells, but not too many. Blood was returned to my body through the other "nozzle" on my central line. It wasn't painful at all. I was told to let them know if I felt any tingling sensation in my fingers or around my lips, which would indicate a low calcium level. I didn't have that, but if I had they would have given me more calcium.
The only unpleasant thing that happened was that I felt something like heartburn or reflux, but raising my bed to a more upright position and having something to drink helped that. Ron and I watched two movies during the procedure, which really helped to take my mind off things.
I had to go upstairs to the bone marrow transplant clinic after the stem cell harvest for another platelet transfusion. My platelets were pretty low before the harvest, and quite low after it. Fortunately, platelet infusion goes much faster than red blood, so we were only upstairs for a little over an hour.
I'm feeling tired. I thought it might just be from the Benedryl they gave me before the transfusion, but even after a little nap I'm still tired.
Here is a good, clear article about apheresis if you'd like more information.