Friday, January 25, 2008

Day +239

The intrepid adventurers have returned from yet another safari in the wilds of Houston. After a long week of languishing in abject boredom without the benefit of a single blood test it was nice to break up the monotony. I had a single appointment with the melanoma center at MDA just to follow up on my skin GvHD. Believe me, I did try to have the appointment moved to coincide with a few others just to save a trip, only to be told that if I cancelled my appointment I'd have to wait until June.

Since getting off of Prograf over three weeks ago my skin has been behaving for the most part. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have such a minor case of skin GvHD. There are patients walking around with giant purple welts and unexplained rashes that look more like flesh eating diseases. I am definitely one of the lucky ones. I have patches of "chicken skin" which are more or less kept under control by slathering on Cerave cream. As an aside, this is the best moisturizer that I have ever used and it definitely does not leave me feeling like I've been bathing in diaper ointment. My sole complaint is that my hands continue to bother me. They constantly feel dry and itchy with just a dash of rawness. My fingers continue to peel and I keep getting rashes on my palms and wrists. I've been given permission to keep using the steroid cream on them so long as I let the dermatologists know what's going on. My scalp continues to have scaly spots and there are still a few bald patches that are stubbornly refusing to grow any hair. After examining me head to toe Dr. Hymes pronounced my skin near perfect. What adolescent doesn't dream of having perfect skin?

I was attended by two dermatologists who pored over me looking for suspicious moles and any indications of worsening GvHD that I may have missed. The last time they saw me, they did find an unusual mole on my back that I wasn't even aware of. Chris assured me that it was relatively new and that he'd never noticed it before. Dr. Hymes announced that we should keep an eye on it and return in six months for a check-up. Chris asked if it wouldn't be better just to remove it altogether since my father had such a horrible time with skin cancer. She said it was really up to me and that she'd remove it and have it biopsied if I'd like. I was just as happy to leave it be, but Chris looked terrified at the thought of having to deal with skin cancer down the road. I agreed to have the procedure and fifteen minutes later found myself missing some skin with two new stitches to add to my list of war wounds. It currently feels like a tiny red hot poker is digging into the back of my shoulder every time I move my arm. I know it's the stitches pulling and it's driving me crazy. I still didn't get to see the mystery mole, but it was described as looking like a figure 8 with the top part colored in and the bottom half covered with a white dot. I did see the skin sample sitting in the little jar and it was impressive.

I thought that I might be developing a cold sore on my lip and started taking Valtrex again just in case. Chris pointed it out to the two doctors who surprised me by telling me that it was something else. It turns out that it's a tiny yeast infection that's confined to the corners of my mouth. Forgive me for sounding like a three year old, but "Gross!" It would seem that this is pretty common among the general population and some people are more prone to it than others. My immune system is surpressed and my upper lip over laps my lower lip in the corners. I was the perfect candidate to start yeast farming. They prescribed an ointment to take care of it and I'm still taking Valtrex just in case.

I'll have to wait a week for the biopsy results, but have been assured that they didn't think there was anything to worry about. Fine by me. There are no other appointments on the books until February 5. This means that I'll be having a few procedures while the seething masses are celebrating Mardi Gras. My appointments carry over until the next day, so it's a long visit in Houston for us.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

You are NOT alone!!! Even 20 months post-transplant, I have itchy-scaly spots on the back of my hands, the tops of my feet, on the right side of my face (cheek) and also along my hairline on my forehead! I've tried many things to calm it down to no avail. The scalp/hairline scaly thing is the worst because it looks peely and could be mistaken for a bad case of dandruff... uuggghhh. Oh well, it's really nothing when you consider what we've been through (but I do wish it would clear up.) Thanks for the heads-up on the Cerave cream. I'm going to try it. Take care & keep up the good work. love, n