Stem Cell Harvest Day

Stem Cell Harvest Day

Wednesday,  January 18, 2017

At 12 pm I took a dose of Valium and hydrocodone and then at 1 pm I was checked into the Healthlink Medical Center in Oceanside, California for my bilateral hip rebuild. This started with a harvest of bone marrow from my iliac crest. A local anesthesia was used to numb the site clear to the bone and then a250px-pelvis_diagram small incision made in my low back (hip bone) and then a special instrument inserted and pounded into the bone and into the marrow cavity where bone marrow was extracted. Three extractions were made on each side for a total of six incision sites.

The most painful part was when the marrow was sucked out, but fortunately that isn’t much worse than a root canal. It was definitely a huge relief when the doctor finally said, ‘That’s it. We’re all done and we were able to get enough marrow to work with to complete the bilateral procedure.’ Apparently that isn’t always possible as some people just don’t have enough blood, stemcells, or marrow to work with. I was extremely grateful that by following all the pre-op instructions, it worked for me and they were able to get plenty to make this procedure possible.

Afterwards, they used steri-strips to seal the incisions and then covered both hips with sterile bandages. I was sent out for rest and lunch and then scheduled to come back two hours later for the stem cell implant.

bone_marrow_drawThis part of the procedure took about an hour and involved using a fluroscope to view the hip joint and then carefully insert a needle through the side of my hip into the hip capsule and plant the stem cells directly on the femur. Once this was completed successfully, my blood platelets were injected and bathed the entire hip joint to feed the stem cells. Apparently getting the needle to thread into the joint precisely is not always easy but in my case, despite the left side being extremely narrow and requiring traction to get the needle into the space, the doctor was successful and was able to complete the procedure as hoped. Hooray.

By the time this part of the procedure was completed I felt sleepy, a bit beat up, and more than ready to just pass out. I was wheeled out and crawled into bed where I slept until the pain meds wore off. I really needed the medication to be tolerably comfortable for the next 16 hours but then I was able to get up and move my legs which helped to alleviate the stiffness and pain pretty quickly.

By Friday morning I only needed Tylenol to handle the pain. I returned to the clinic on crutches Friday morning and had six vials of blood drawn. On the way out, we stopped to watch the inauguration of our 45th president taking place, and then my sister helped me get back to bed and rest. I returned to the clinic two hours later for my final injection of blood platelets that would feed the stem cells and encourage them to grow.

I’m feeling optimistic and looking forward to recovery and getting back to doing all the things I love without the pain.




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