Today I’m back at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for more testing and a meeting with the doctors and Andrew, our CAR-T therapy coordinator. It’s Day -12 as March 17th is the day I’ll be getting my CAR-T cells infused, which is referred to as “Day 0”.
First up is a PET scan that will be used as the base-line pre-treatment. It’s interesting to note the differences in the processes between HSC in Winnipeg and PMS in Toronto. The Toronto folks seem to be much faster and have seemingly streamlined the procedure while still doing the same job.
The check in process was about the same but the injection was quicker and they didn’t leave the IV in for the duration like they do in Winnipeg. Changing is into a pair of hospital pants only, in Winnipeg they are more into a full gown mode. In the PET scanner it seemed faster here which might be due to a newer machine. The one in Winnipeg is 10+ years old and just now being replaced with a new model. Winnipeg is typically 2 – 2 1/2 hours, here I’m done in under 1 1/2 hours.
Next up is some blood work and a return visit to the AWA (Ambulance Waiting Area). This is where they collect blood if you have a Port or PICC line. If you were just getting blood drawn the “normal” way via a jab to an arm vein they have a pretty high-tech operation with dozens of stations to get the job done. Back in the AWA it’s more like a backwater ghetto, a holding pen with an assortment of mismatched chairs scattered about and lots of people getting in line for the two techs who can do the job. Still, not bad, a 20 minute wait and the very efficient tech gets my 5 tubes of blood with blazing speed and I‘m free to go.
Now it’s about 10:15 am and my next appointment is 1:30 pm, so some time to kill. After a Tim’s coffee and muffin I’m out for a walk to explore some of downtown Toronto. Not too much is possible as Toronto is still on a full lockdown with “stay at home” orders. The only things open are some restaurants but I’d have to eat out on the street and while it’s sunny it’s fairly windy and a little on the cold side so that option is not too appealing.
The 1:30pm meeting is primarily about reviewing my status with the various nurses and doctors. Vitals and a mini-assessments with a nurse, a more detailed review with the resident, and a recap with the senior hematologist all covering pretty much the same ground.
After the doctors are done Andrew reviews the plan for the next week up to my admission and I’m given another bunch of prescriptions for various anti-nausea meds to deal with the upcoming chemo treatments. The prescriptions were a bit of a surprise and another reminder that the chemo might not be a “walk in the park” so it’s off the the hospital pharmacy to get them filled.
I thought this would be an easy day but, by the end I’m a little emotionally fried from the testing and talking about everything so much. I’m relieved to see Shirley & Leslie waiting in the car to take me home.