Week One: Last Day of Pre-Testing and Exploring The City


Second day of testing was a bit easier than the first day. Since we got all the medical testing done yesterday, this day was used to determine the level of disability. These tests are used as a starting point for later to determine if a person is getting better or worse.


My first appointment of the day was supposed to be a vein check, but they actually just give you a tour of the Blood Center and explain the process of harvesting stem cells. They tell you what you’re going to do when you’re doing your blood work. They also explained the VAS catheter that has to go in your jugular, and it was sort of a disturbing thought.

Hopefully I can get all the stem cells I need in one day of harvesting. They need two million stem cells to do the transplant.  After the harvest, I’ll have to take Neuprogen shots for ten days straight, in order to draw the stem cells out of my bone marrow.  I hear by the end of that process your bones can ache pretty bad from all the extra stem cells. Anyway, the harvest of the stem cells sounds like its going to be a pretty fun little process.


My next appointment of the day was with Dr. Burt.  Dr. Burt wanted to make sure he was up to date on the medications. He was making sure that I had been off Tecfidera for long enough.  He also asked me if I wanted to start this process this next week, but I told him that I still have to go home and pack and get everything ready for the trip.  Thankfully, it’s still going to be starting on March 16th.  He also went over the risks of the procedure again and a few other things. Next, his nurse Katie did a few tests on me and surveys.  The surveys basically ask questions about what I struggle with or not. They try to get an idea of what the MS is doing to that particular person and what their disability might be.


The next test was the walking test. Normally they take you around a city block.  I think, because walking isn’t really a problem for me, I just did a few trips up and down the hall.  I also did some speed walking. No big deal.


After that, we did a nine hole peg test. The test basically tested your coordination and ability to concentrate.  You would take pegs and put them one by one into the holes and then take them out one by one. You would do it with your left hand and then your right hand. You were also timed.  I was a little clumsy to the point that I even dropped one of the pegs on the ground. It seems coordination is one of the things that has been affecting me.


The next test was a nightmare for me.   It was a math test.   The math isn’t hard at all. The test is more about concentration.  Every three seconds they give you a number and you have to add it to the last number they give you. You then tell them that answer to the addition problem.  The thing is, when they tell you the next number, you have to remember the previous number said, not the answer. You then have to add that answer to the next number. You can’t write anything down. You have to do it all in your head. It’s not hard at first, but after a while, or if you get behind for a second, it gets really hard to concentrate. This goes on for one minute. Then you take it again, except they read the numbers two seconds apart. I did horribly on this one, because I have no ability to concentrate.  I think the people who know me well, know that this is my most noticeable symptom that I’ve had since having MS.


After this test was done, I asked Katie Mediratta (Dr. Burt’s nurse)  if she thought it would be a problem if I left Chicago to go home and start getting stuff ready. She said she thought it wouldn’t be a problem. So my pretesting is officially finished! I have my last pre-transplant race on Saturday. It will be nice to get over the jet lag and get some bike time before then.


Surprisingly, I didn’t take any pictures during my appointments today, but from my walk from the hotel to the train at Union Station, I took pictures downtown of some of the sites. That was a really enjoyable walk. I really love the Chicago downtown area.  It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever seen in real life. Anyway, I guess the next step is : I will return to Chicago and start chemotherapy on my first day back and then prepare to start harvesting my stem cells!



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