It begins: Neupogen day 1

15 Oct

Yesterday morning I got my first Neupogen (filgrastim) injection.

But! Before I get into how that went and the side effects I’ve experienced, I want to talk a little bit about what it’s been like interacting with all of the people involved with this process. I didn’t meet anyone with the NMDP in person until I was actually chosen to donate.  Even the preliminary blood labs were done by a private testing company not formally associated with the program.  Once I heard that I was going to donate, I was a little worried that I would be bounced around the hospital to a hundred different people whose names I wouldn’t know and whose faces I’d see only once. This didn’t turn out to be the case at all.

Before my physical, I was contacted by someone in the local branch of the NMDP who walked me through the consent forms, explained the donation process, and helped schedule the physical and the collection. I met the same person at the hospital on the day of my physical, and she walked me to each test, and introduced me to the doctor who would be doing my collection, who spent a good twenty minutes explaining the process again and addressing concerns I didn’t even know I had. My doctor showed me to the infusion center on my first day of Neupogen, gave me the injection herself, and introduced me to the staff in the infusion center. She also gave me her phone number so I could contact her directly if I was worried about any of the Neupogen side effects. I explain all this because I want anyone who plans to donate to know that the NMDP won’t just be friendly on the phone and then dump you into the system. Everyone you meet along the way wants to make the donation as easy as possible for you, and everyone thinks you are brave and generous to be donating.

So, how was the first Neupogen injection?

It wasn’t bad at all. Since it’s the first of my five injections, my doctor took a blood sample beforehand to get a baseline for my white blood cell count. The infusion center staff also took my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, and asked a few questions about if I was feeling any discomfort. They will take these measurements (except the blood cell count) each day of Neupogen injections to monitor my response to the drug, and my experience of the side effects. The Neupogen came in two little vials of clear liquid, which my doctor kindly combined into one syringe so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck more than once. It’s a subcutaneous injection, which means they just inject the liquid under your skin wherever there’s a nice fat pad to absorb it, and they use a teeny little needle. I got mine in the stomach and barely felt the needle go in. The injection of the fluid stung a bit, but definitely no worse than a flu shot. After the shot, they had me stick around for a few minutes to make sure I didn’t have any bad reaction to it, which I didn’t, and I was good to go.

The side effects?

I didn’t feel any side effects of the Neupogen until the afternoon. My muscles started to get a little achy, sort of like I had had a good workout the day before. The soreness increased slightly through the evening, but the worst it got was a mild soreness in my muscles all over, and a slightly stronger soreness in my neck. I didn’t take any painkillers until I went to bed, but I took a couple ibuprofen this morning and it worked well (and quickly). I didn’t feel any bone soreness, nausea, or headache, which was nice, and since the soreness made me feel like I had exercised, I actually slept really well.

I had my second injection this morning, but I won’t blog about it until tomorrow so I can wait and see how I feel later today. So far, I’m still totally on board with the donation, and the discomfort is minimal, especially with a little ibuprofen. More updates tomorrow!

 

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