Monday, March 16, 2009

while I've been away (cont'd)

I had my first treatment of the plasmapheresis on the Saturday after I was admitted. I didn't really know what to expect. I knew that the procedure was going to be similar to dialysis using the Ash split, but that was all I knew.

I was brought down for my plasmapharesis to the unit also used for kidney dialysis. I was wheeled down there in my bed, which I was to be very thankful for later. Bill, one of the nurses, was going to be coordinating my first treatment. He attached the tubes from me to the machine and the process was started. My blood (not all of it of course) was removed and sent through the centrifuge. This process is used to exctract my plasma from my blood. Then, my blood was reinfused along with new plasma, or in this case, Albumin. My understanding is that this solution is easier to tolerate, so I was started out with this instead of plasma. Before each treatment, blood is drawn to check levels of different parts of my blood. From this, the nurses could see if the infusion plan needed to be changed a bit to include a combination of plasma and Albumin.

The first part of my infusion went relatively well. I was told to let the nurses and doctors know if I felt any tingliness around my mouth. This is a sign of low calcium. As it turns out, towards the end of my treatment, I started to feel some tingling around my mouth. I was also feeling tingling throughout my whole body, but because of the specific numbness around my mouth, I was given a calcium bolus. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to do a lot for me. I was then given a dose of Benadryl, in case of an allergic reaction. Again, this didn't have much effect on how I was feeling. I started to feel even worse. My entire body was feeling numb - my arms and legs felt heavy like I wasn't able to move anything. I was also have some difficulty breathing. Neither the hematology doctor or the nurse taking care me thought that I was having an allergic reaction, so the best solution was to wait for this feeling to end. Apparently, the change in the level of fluids in the body can have a dramatic effect on how you feel.

For about 30 - 45 minutes, I waited for this feeling to subside. It did eventually, but I was exhausted. For this reason, I was very happy that I had been transported down to dialysis in my bed. Whew! I made it through the first appointment. Now, just 4 to go. There's a rest day between each treatment, so my next appointment would be on Monday.