Filgastrim…ain’t your party drug

I’d like to preface this post by saying that despite the flip nature of the title, I do not condone the use of illegal drugs, or the misuse of legal drugs.

What I have heard and seen most since I told people rather excitedly that I am a match for a patient needing a bone-marrow transplant is a look that says “you be crazy” and the words “isn’t that quite painful?” I’d like to dispel a few misconceptions about the process.

Injections of Filgastrim certainly make you feel funny. It is hard to describe the feeling it causes. At times, it almost feels as if my bones are taut—and being pulled in all directions. Similar to the old-fashion quartering. Except all of my body parts stay inside. It is not necessarily a painful feeling, but rather a disconcerting one.

The biggest side effect of the drug is feeling sllleeeepppyyy. Which does not bode well when you have four kids needing your attention, or Admin Law tests, or that pesky little thing called your job. The nurse explained that this side effect makes sense as my body is working overtime to create the peripheral stem cells which will be pulled from my body during the donation. This is wonderful to hear, but does not help much when I want my blankie at work and I appear to have acquired narcolepsy.

So, in short, the “pain” or discomfort is manageable, particularly with over-the-counter meds such as Tylenol or Advil. And let’s face it: is the cause not made that much better by having some pain? The pain/discomfort acts as a badge of honor, a tangible reminder of the good you are doing for someone. Those of you who are moms, would you agree that the pain that comes from childbirth is kind of cool, in that YOU overrode that pain and pushed a beautiful being into the world? Is it not cool the lesson that we learn when giving birth—the one that lets us realize how strong we are and what amazing things human bodies can do?

While injections of Filgastrim are not particularly enjoyable, they are but a little annoyance in the scheme of things—a little thing to bear when saving someone’s life.

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