I fly back to DC next Tuesday, and check into the NIH inpatient facility that evening.
Wednesday I’m getting a CT, a brain MRI and an abdominal MRI. I’ve asked for an Ativan to help me be still for two hours inside the MRI tube.
Thursday I’m getting my chest catheter put in.
Friday (3/7), the chemotherapy starts. It will be in two phases. The first phase will last 48 hours, with twice daily infusions of about two hours each. This phase will require me to be awoken and have my urine output monitored every two hours during that entire period. I have been told not to expect to get a lot of sleep those two days.
The second phase will last five days with twice daily infusions of an hour or so each. During that period, I will be allowed to go out on a pass if I want to lunch with family or friends, or just be out of the hospital.
The cellular infusion will occur on 3/14, and it’s a one-time event. The variable days after that are the number of times I can tolerate the thrice-daily infusion of the helper drugs intended to activate the TIL cells. Those occur at 7 am, 3 pm and 11 pm. Very few patients have lasted all five days, to maximum dosage.
I’ll then be in recovering until my immune system is sufficiently robust for me to be released. That can be as little as seven days, but that patients with a lot of chemotherapy history usually take longer. I pointed out to the nurse I was speaking with that I’d had 1,600 hours of IV chemotherapy over the past five years, which seemed to surprise them. They said, “That’s a lot.” Figure at least ten days for me, possibly two weeks.
I can have visitors whenever I’m willing to tolerate them, but while I’m neutropenic I won’t be allowed flowers in my room.
So there’s two points of variability in my stay length, but if I had to guess, I’d say three-and-a-half to four week inpatient experience.
Return followups will be on a monthly basis for at least the first two months.