Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Begin the SCT process in Chicago

Well, I made it here to Chicago! Right off, I would suggest to any future SCT participants to come an extra day earlier to settle in and get unpacked and go grocery shopping before you have to get started in the pre-testing days. I flew in on Sunday but sure wish I had had an extra day. That said, HOWEVER, the day before I got here was St. Patrick's Day and it was a GOOD thing that I didn't fly in then! Shuttle driver said there were over 500,000 people in the streets that day and the folks he tried to deliver to their hotels had to get out of the shuttle and walk 4 blocks to their hotels because he just couldn't drive any closer for them! So, I don't imagine my getting here a day earlier under those circumstances would have been beneficial! 
My hotel room(s) are beautiful! It is like a small apartment and it is very comfortable. The weather has been wonderful, almost like I was back in Florida! The bad part is that they have not turned on the air conditioning in the hotel yet. Sleeping was very warm on Monday night, so last night I left the windows open which made it better. I do use ear plugs so it's not too noisy because in the city, it's never really quiet. When an ambulance or fire truck went by one time, my word; was that ever loud! Fortunately, it wasn't during the night.

Bright and early Monday morning (8:15am, not so  early as to me it was like 9:15am Florida time and I had been up since 5am anyway) my room phone rang and it was Andy Price, who is here from Australia who is also having a stem cell transplant. He's been here a while and is further along the process than I am. He called to see if I wanted to walk over to the hospital with him and he'd show me the ropes! What a blessing that was, since I wasn't really sure how to get there by foot! So we walked over together and when we got in to the hospital, went our separate ways. 

So, this was my first full day of testing. First up was the lab work, I was a little surprised they only took 14 vials of blood. Maybe because they took 22 when I was here for the evaluation, they didn't need as many this time. I wasn't sure if I needed to fast for the draw so I didn't eat anything; but just so you know if you are a future SCT hopeful, you do NOT need to fast for these draws. So, I stopped at Xray before desiring to get to the cafeteria for "brunch" so I could drop off the Xrays I had brought with me from a previous one I had done in Florida. Well, the gal helped me to go get my Xray done right then and booked me in to see if they could fit me in for the sinus scan so I wouldn't have to come back later that same day. They give you a buzzer like you get when you go to a restaurant and off I went to the cafeteria. I just sat down with my chicken leg, mashed potatoes and veggie when of course, the buzzer went off! I thought to myself "I am not going now! I am going to eat first!" and I did. It went off 2 more times before I got back up there. They took me right in as soon as I walked in the door and got it right done! They are great! After that I just had to go get an EKG and I was done for the day and it was only noon!
I was pretty tired from that so I sat for a bit and read my nook.  I called Andy to let him know I was done because we had talked about going to see Bob Boen, another SCT patient who was in the hospital getting his first batch of chemo for the stem cell collection. Bob is between Andy and me in the process. It turned out that Andy left his phone at the hotel, so he never got my call. I just was resting and waiting in the Prentice Hospital and went to get a cup of coffee and Andy showed up and we sat to drink our beverages until we finished then went to see Bob and his wife Diane. We had a great visit together and had quite a few laughs. I left about 3pm and walked back to the hotel, and laid down for a little nap. 
We had a few phone calls in regards to our debit cards and credit cards; so as a reminder when you travel out of your norm, don't forget to let your financial institutions know or call the number on the back of your card to tell them so you don't have to fix it after!
Tuesday was a bit of a headache day, literally. I met with Paula, she is Dr Burt's nurse who is THE BEST to ask any questions you have. We met for about 45 minutes to go over the whole process I'll be going through and answer any questions I might have. (This was not the headache part, by the way.) Then I had an appointment at 12:30 for my IVIg (this is the medicine I get every 3 weeks to keep me going). Since this was their first time giving it to me,  and the certain kind of IVIg I get, they run it in a lot slower than I'm used to and there is a lot of it to give, so we actually got started too late in the day for me to get it all in one shot. I ended up being there until 6:30pm and I am back again now on Wednesday morning at 8:30am to get the 2nd 1/2. Gotta just go with the flow and handle these little things that pop up unexpectedly.  After I finish this infusion, I will have my Pulmonary Function Test, which takes about an hour and then I have a 2D Full Doppler Echo after that. When I am done these tests I will meet with Doctor Burt to hear him tell me about what he is going to be doing to me for the transplant and answer any questions I have as well. If anything unusual comes up, I will be sure to let you know...


  1. Glad to hear you made it there safe Wendy! I'm following along with your posts here! My Dad spoke with his neurologist yesterday about the SCT, and his neurologist called and spoke to Dr. Burt about my Dad and Paula is supposed to be giving my Dad a call once she receives his paperwork, which he just sent out today! Things are starting to happen, and it's very exciting! Thank you again SO much for giving me the nerve to bring this up to my Dad again! Thinking of you & praying things go smoothly for you!

  2. awesome! So glad to have played a part...your will love both Paula and Dr Burt, they are great!! Maybe he will get to come up while I am still here!

  3. Wow Wendy I'm worn out for you just reading about how busy you are with all the testing! Know that I am thinking about you and praying for you!

    1. I know Teresa! There's a lot to it. They want to make sure they cover all the bases before they start! Thanks for you prayers, I appreciate them more than you'll know!

  4. Wendy: I must have missed something.
    I spoke to your Sis today, she said you are
    doing well. We missed your smiling face at
    church today. Love, Hugs & Prayers.