Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day +190

When will all of the excitement in my life end? Let me preface this post by admitting that I did break my own rule and let some pictures posted on the net scare the poop out of me.

I've had a small, dry cough off and on for the last few months and it's been driving Chris crazy. Every doctor that has seen me for it has come to the same conclusion: post nasal drip. Even I can feel it. With the weather being what it is down here, my allergies and sinus complaints flare up constantly. It was almost 80 degrees the other day, which aggravated my allergies and caused my cough to reappear. It went away after a day and I didn't think anymore about it. Two days later, it was 40 degrees which started the cycle all over again. My nose is runny and my cough is back. I'm fairly certain it will be gone in a day or two. If I could remember to do my Flonase regularly, it would be gone sooner.

Of course, a cough for a transplant patient could be a portent of something more sinister. Chris is on the look out for popcorn lung, which I can sincerely hope never to be diagnosed with. Now you have to consider my skin flare ups and combine that with the fact that I'm recovering from PTLD. Chris has done exhaustive research on this condition and occasionally, I'll look at an article or a photograph. The other night I read a few articles on lymphoma and PTLD and of course there were pictures attached. It's not the prettiest thing I've ever seen.

Last night my neck began to itch and when I reached up to scratch it, I found a small blister. Guess what some of the pictures related to lymphoma and PTLD of the skin looked like? Chris was ready to take me into the emergency room at MDA. He almost had my transplant doctor paged at home. He was talked out of it on the provision that I email my doctor describing my newest dilemma. I found a few more blisters on my collar bone, but the rest of me was all clear.

My PA called me first thing this morning. She was very thorough in asking about my symptoms and wanted detailed descriptions of the blisters. Of course I mentioned lymphoma in my email. I had broken a cardinal rule and self diagnosed. We've all done it at one time or another. I've been told that first year medical students are particularly prone to it. I can't remember any of my doctor friends doing it, though.

Dr. Kebriaei called a few hours later and spoke with Chris. He asked if it could be lymphoma or PTLD of the skin. She reassured him that it wasn't. If I'd honestly stopped and really thought about it, I would have known that it couldn't be either. My blood numbers are excellent and I generally feel really well. Every time that I've been diagnosed with something, I've had extreme symptoms and felt unwell on some level. I was tired and cranky yesterday and I think this is part of the reason I let myself panic. I really have to give my transplant team a lot of credit. They've been very good to us and they're vigilant about being sure that Chris and I are okay as a unit.

Without being able to see me to give a diagnosis, my doctor thinks it may be shingles. I did have chicken pox as a child and I do still carry the virus. Add to this that I've been immunosuppressed for almost a year and I wonder that I haven't come down with it sooner. I have to take 2 Valtrex pills 3 times a day until I see her next week. I've done a little reading on the subject, glutton for punishment that I am, and the blister looked similar--not exactly like shingles. We're not really sure that this is what it is, but my doctor isn't taking any chances. Chris has never had chicken pox and is now in danger of me. He's not to touch the blisters or rash since he can contract chicken pox from contact with them. Even if it's not shingles, I don't want him to take any chances. I'll see my local oncologist tomorrow.

Now I'm worried about infecting unsuspecting people. This is quite a switch for me. Dixie is in the clear since she's been previously exposed to chicken pox, but I can't vouch for other people that I will come into contact with. It's very frustrating to think that I could pass something along. I'm reassured that it's not airborne and that you actually have to touch me at an infected point to catch anything. So, please forgive me if you want a hug and I run the other way.

I'm thinking about taking bets on what strange and new complication waits on the horizon. On second thought, I really shouldn't joke about things like that. As far as I'm concerned, life is still good and I don't have much to complain about. I'm taking a break from baking with self preservation in mind. My little gut is hanging out a little farther than I'd like. My own fault for gorging on cookies and all things full of sugar. What was that promise I made to eat well with nutrition in mind?

I'll ask Dr. Bienvenu about my skin tomorrow. Of course I'll post what he says.


pj said...

Here, let another patient misdiagnose you. Could you have gvh of the skin? Are you taking preventative meds for shingles, such as acyclovir? That's what I'm on. From what I've heard, shingles are VERY painful and follow a specific pattern.

I think I'll start baking so I can develop a gut like you. I'd like a few extra pounds in case something bad happens (which I will refrain from mentioning).

Stay out of trouble and think positive!

Susan Carrier said...

Yikes! My stomach was in my throat as I read this, Ann.

Hoping for the best