Tuesday, July 31, 2007

GvHD + 84

Only 9 days since last posting so doing better with only 4 appointments to report. Still battling potassium and creatinine levels in my blood, indicating possible kidney problems. So I get IV fluids on each visit and need to keep drinking more water. There have also been more adjustments of medicines to help out. The prednisone is helping my appetite, but I still don't have my taste buds back. I have lost a few more lbs so my gut is probably not absorbing enough yet as well.

As part of the GvHD treatment, I am participating with a Fred Hutchinson Research Study where I either get MMF or a placebo along with the normal treatment. This is another 8 pills a day, though they could be what I took during the engraftment phase. This study could last up to two years and is meant to determine whether MMF helps in the GvHD phase. Note that the study is not listed at the web site so may be closed to participating research groups.

Not sure when I will be back to work. Earliest may be 2 months due to immunity problems and need to stay relatively isolated from people. Otherwise, I am feeling much better and getting things done around the house.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hospital again + 75

Sorry that it has been almost 2 weeks since I posted. The week of 10th, I was into the clinic everyday and couple unplanned to get fluids. Most of the tests were negative for GvHD except for the D-Xylose test that I had last Tuesday. Just got results back today from Mayo Clinic and it definitely indicated GvHD. I am now on 90mg Prednisone per day and added CellCept back for treatment as well. Got to drop Ursodiol but added 4 "horse" tablets of Bactrim each day.

Also the clinic had taken blood cultures for several days starting the 13th. They got the first results back on Tuesday (after I got home from a day of D-Xylose) and had me go straight to the hospital. I didn't feel too bad but Drs were worried since it was a very septic infection in my blood. On Wed, they pulled out my central line and ran cultures on that as well. On Thurs, they ran a PICC line which accomplishes the same purpose as the old central line. It hangs out of my right bicep area down to my elbow, dangling frrom under any short sleeve shirt. I got out of the hospital about 1pm on Saturday and was back at the clinic at 8:30 this morning. Already have appts for Monday and Tuesday and probably more this week.

It is good to have some confirmation of why I have not had an appetite and I have lost weight. Official weight from this morning was 197 lbs, 70 lbs less that my bloated high back in May and 55 lbs less than when many of you saw me last.

Thanks for all your prayers. Last Monday, after my sister came back from a 2 week mission trip to Brazil, we had a family prayer meeting at my house. Little did we know that the blood culture test that may have saved my life was already underway. Just a few days later and results could have been much different. God works in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day + 63

Well, I went down hill after Friday and had to go into clinic on Monday for some more magnesium and fluids. This helped me some but now I get more blood on Wed. I saw the Dr again today and will again on Thurs.

Other than hemoglobin, my blood counts are ok. Dr. also reported that my last bone marrow biopsy looked good with all cell lines growing well and still showing engraftment. Since none of the tests confirm any acute GvHD, the Dr ordered a lip biopsy which was done this afternoon in the Dermatology Clinic. They took a piece of salvia glnd from inner lower lip and a sample of some flaky skin. They also examined my whole body for anything suspicious.

Dr. thinks that I may have chronic GvHD which normally occurs after 100 days. If it is cGvHD, treatment would probably be Prednizone and could continue for several years.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Day + 59

What a difference a few days make since I have been feeling much better since Tuesday. This was somewhat tempered by getting up early this morning and having both a sigmoidoscopy and another bone marrow biopsy. I still have little appetite but diarrhea and dry mouth have let up.

The initial sigmoid test was negative for GvHD though samples were taken to be analyzed. Other tests of stool, urine and blood culture have also been negative. Blood counts are ok except for the hemoglobin which keeps dropping. I am also now taking eye drops for dry eyes.

The bone marrow biopsy went very well this morning, taking 1/2 the time of the last. The difference was experience of who did it and use of a bigger (8 gauge) needle. I have my next Dr appt next Tuesday when I will learn more from the biopsies that I had today.

GvHD, in answer to Lori's question on the June 12 post, is basically when the new donor white blood cells attack rapidly growing host cells. This is beneficial when the the attacked cells are remnants of previous cancers (tumors). It it not pleasant and can be life threatening if the cells are GI tract, lungs or liver. Skin or eye GvHD can also occur.

For Joyce, my top rating on fireworks, viewed on a 46" HD TV, is for Boston. Of course, the only other one I watched was New York. NY was 30 minutes long and seemed to be launched from a broader location. Boston was only 20 minutes and seemed more concentrated. Both were choreographed to music, but you can't beat the Boston Pops Orchestra for smooth medley transitions. I especially liked the Sesame Street song synched with fireworks in the shape of a toy block or the numbers 2 and 3. NY synched those with "Take me out to the ball game". Over all, I would have much rather been with my son and daughter in Bemidji, watching their fireworks from the beach.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day + 56

Well, the GvHD question is open again. I was in for an appt this morning after generally not feeling too good the last few days. I have been fighting bouts of diarrhea on Sunday and Monday, but am thankful clear at the moment. Didn't sleep very well last night because of dry mouth.

My creatinine has been high due to the diarrhea and lack of kidney function so I still try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. I essentially have no appetite but try to eat a variety of food, never able to finish even 1/2 a normal portion. The clinic gave me more magnesium and fluids IVs today. I was told to come in Thursday as well if I have more diarrhea and dry mouth.

Any way, I had a stool sample, a urine sample, and a chest x-ray plus special blood cultures taken. X-ray was ok; no fluid in lungs. I go in Friday at 7:30am for a sigmoidoscopy followed by another bone marrow biopsy. I also had a Schirmer test for dryness in my eyes. This is done by placing a piece of paper under the lower eye lid and measuring how many tears are produced.

I look forward to my July 10th appt to get the results of all these tests and determine what we do next.

Keep looking up!