Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My spinal treatment went very well and there was definitely no need for drugs. They use a separate operating room for lumbar injections and on stem cell days there is sometimes a traffic jam in the hall with beds waiting to enter. Once the stem cells show up things move rather quickly around here. I was wheeled into my surgical room, rolled onto my side, bent my knees up to my stomach and I was ready to go. There were two nurses and a doctor in the room and of course I couldn’t see what was going on behind me. One nurse injected a syringe into my IV and said it was medicine to prevent infection and I could feel them swab an area on my spine near my tailbone and gently massage up and down that area of my spine. I could hear the sound of medical instrument s clanging and the nurse leaned over me to say I’d feel a small prick where she’d be administering a local anaesthetic. I thought I could feel something being inserted into my back but couldn’t be sure as they carried on quietly working behind me. I felt an itch on my upper arm and reached to scratch it with my opposite hand and the nurse barked at me “please do not move”. I suppose that’s when I realized they were injecting the stem cells into my spine and within another 5 minutes it was all over. It seemed like the whole procedure from start to finish was no longer than 15 minutes!
Next they were telling me to roll over to my back and to shift myself up towards the end of the bed. I found it funny because I was somewhat concerned about moving around but the nurse was pulling my shirt from bunching up as I shimmied my way up the mattress and she commented “you so tall”. I’m sure not used to hearing that comment. Just like that I was done and they were wheeling me back into my room with instructions to lie flat on my back and not to lift my head. I could turn onto either side and even use a pillow if I was lying on my side but not if I was on my back. I would have to follow these rules for the next 6 hours which is where I found the problem. I’ve had a bad back for months and lying on that bed immobilized for the next 6 hours was painful and very difficult. I was okay for the first three hours and actually got some sleep but the last three were torture on me. I’ll be trying out some new coping strategies for my next treatment on Friday.
Other than the discomfort of lying in bed for those last three hours I made out very well. No pain at the injection site and no headache, two of the more common problems that they tend to worry about. I’m not worried about the rest of my spinal treatments but I’m not looking forward to the bone marrow procedure. When they harvest the bone marrow from me it is more of a surgical procedure and when I have this done I must lie in bed for 24 hours! I don’t know how I’m going to cope with that one.
I still haven’t felt any differently from the stem cells; in fact I’ve felt more tired the last two days. My physical therapy sessions have become much more difficult to the point where I feel I’m not progressing but going backwards. I’ve found myself becoming quite frustrated and getting upset. I think I’m just played out and I never did have a great deal of patience. I’m not alone in feeling this way as other patients are experiencing similar circumstances but we really work at encouraging one another. It probably doesn’t help matters that it’s been quite warm the last few days. In fact today was hot in our rooms and everyone was complaining about it. Unfortunately today was the day the hospital decided to turn off the air conditioning for the year! Apparently it’s fall now and therefore getting cooler and no need for air conditioning. I guess they can have Indian summers in China too! We do have fans in our rooms and hopefully it won’t stay warm out for long. If it stays hot the head nurse is going to request that the air be turned back on. Just another day in China stem cells, only 20 more to go!


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