Monday, March 31, 2008

Chris talked to my nurse in Houston today to try to puzzle out what's been going on with me health-wise. I haven't had any repeats of Saturday and my temperature has been normal or just below it for the last three days. I've felt pretty consistently well and my appetite has been normal--unless you count what the scale says, in which case it could be described as "robust". I've gained a pound over the last week, so I'm doubtful that PTLD is rearing its ugly head.

Cathy thinks it was probably something that I ate and I'm all for that.

Two days and we're off to Houston to get another check-up. Cross your fingers that my immune system keeps towing the line, assuring normal numbers. My GvHD is pretty entrenched and my hands look hideous. I'm very hopeful that Dr. Hymes just puts me in the light box in order to get my skin a bit closer to "normal".

Stay tuned for any new developments.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day +306

Things have been quiet of late and I suppose I took that for granted. Last night I started vomiting about an hour after dinner. I'd been feeling well all day and it came as a surprise. One minute I was sitting next to Chris and the next I was flying through the house desperate not to get sick before I reached the bathroom. I ended up being sick three times over the next hour or so, but I feel fine today. Maybe it was something that I ate. This might be the first time in my life that I'm pulling for food poisoning.

I have appointments at MDA next week, so we're just going to sit back and see what happens. If I start vomiting again, or have any other symptoms then we'll probably go into Houston a day or so early.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In 2006, my super amazing friend Tina was faced with a very scary medical situation when she lost all feeling and muscle control in her lower body. Her symptoms pointed to Multiple Sclerosis, MS, and since being diagnosed she's been doing well. She's been a very dear friend for half of my life and one of my most vocal champions when my transplant was in jeopardy and I needed help with the fight. She and her fabulous sister Katie are participating in an MS walk and need sponsors. If you'd like to donate to a very worthwhile cause, please just follow this link: http://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=256497&lis=1&kntae256497=7A20387054A84EF68B70D7D457771794&supId=0&team=2753253&cj=Y

Thanks!

"Did you read Jurassic Park either?"

Day +303

WBC 2.7 K/uL
RBC 4.17 M/uL
HGB 12.7 G/dL
PLT 386 K/uL
ANC 1.4 K/uL

Just back from our check up at our local hematologist and things do seem to have moved in the right direction. Ann's WBC and ANC count have risen since our trip to MDA last week. What a relief! Why exactly isn't clear, but she has been off of Bactrim-DS for the last week, which is sometimes known for speeding the destruction of neutrophils. It could also be that she has beaten a small asymptomatic viral infection, or is simply recovering from the flu from last month.

The exact reason doesn't really matter as long as the baby stem cells are doing what they should, and there is abundant evidence that they are. Our doctor at MDA asked Ann to go without steroid cream, so that they could see what the chronic GvHD on her hands looks like, and she has been itching like crazy since. There have been a couple of times that I have asked her if she would call MDA and get permission to use the cream, but each time she declines and decides to tough it out.

We are scheduled to go back to MDA next week for our monthly check up and see dermatology again. I have a feeling that Ann is going to end up in the "light box". From it's description to me it reminds me of that scene in the 1971 film, The Andromeda Strain. In which the scientists have to descend into the quarantine level of a secret desert laboratory set up to study an alien pathogen accidentally unleashed on Earth courtesy of a satellite sent up to look for life in space.

Among precautions that the scientists in the movie have to take is one that involves very intense UV exposure. They have to put a covering over their head and then are blasted with UV light for a few seconds until the top layer of their skin is turned to ash. All very dramatic, but you would expect that from a Scifi thriller. The actual "light box" is probably much more mundane. Think more of tanning bed and less of Bill Bixby sitting in an Incredible Hulk making gamma irradiator.

I mentioned this to our transplant doctor at MDA and she stared at me blankly and asked as earnestly as she could "what's the Andromeda strain"? Then after I explained it, she admitted to never having seen it. Wow, that honestly floored me! I thought that it was one of the movies that you were almost required to see prior to becoming interested in the medical field. It is after all the story that Micheal Crichton sold to pay his way through med school. Go figure.

I'll keep that in mind before making a West World reference.

Last but not least I would like to introduce Erica Murray to our faithful readers. Erica is a leukemia patient and like Ann did, now needs a bone marrow transplant. Erica had a 9/10 match that just recently fell through, and is now looking for a marrow match so she can move ahead with her treatment. However Asian's only make up an estimated 6% of all the registered and current marrow donors. That means matches are hard to find for people who are depending on them for a chance to live.

To all you LSU students: If you know someone who is Asian or part Asian please take a moment to ask them to become a marrow donor. They can contact our local Red Cross or the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) at (800) 593-6667. It costs nothing and only takes the time required to fill out a form and swab your cheek. In return someone's life might be saved.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GvHD anyone?

Soonja, my new PA at MDA, gave me a call yesterday and delivered some rather surprising news. My biopsy results were in and it would appear that I don't have GvHD of the skin. Rather, she managed to find the one minuscule spot on my back that didn't have GvHD and took a sample. What are the chances? She reassured me that the results didn't necessarily mean that I didn't have GvH, since I was displaying all the symptoms. You think?

Way back in January when I first met with Dr. Hymes(dermatology at MDA) she told me that she wasn't going to take a biopsy because it would be an unnecessary procedure (at the time) that would more than likely come back as inconclusive. It seems that she's something of a seer and in my case was absolutely right. Soonja warned me that another biopsy may be in my near future and that it would be harvested from another area of my body. Choices, choices.

My hands are more often itchy than not and I'm breaking out in tiny rashes all over my fingers and palms. The nails look like I've been rubbing them against a cheese grater and I'm desperately fighting the urge to soak them in steroid cream. I know it would bring sweet relief, but the good doctors need to see what's going on with me and using the steroid cream would give a false impression.

My eyes feel just fine and that is a blessing.

Saturday, I spent some time outside keeping Chris company while he watered Dixie's garden. I thought it would be nice to be out since it was such a beautiful day and it would give me a chance to see how well I tolerated the sun. Not so well. Even though I was wearing long sleeves and a hat, the areas that were exposed felt tight and itchy after a very short period. Add to this general discomfort an unholy allergy attack that left me completely congested in under 15 minutes. God help the poor kid who's stem cells I received. I can only hope that he lives in a cooler climate where things don't bloom maliciously, caking cars in pollen and spores.

Chris is coping well with my extreme sensitivity to different environments. When I start to sniffle or cough a little, he knows it's most likely the result of devilish histamines. Today I accompanied Chris on a little field trip to his old office and as soon as I hit the door my sinuses started acting up. These new allergies tend to confound me since I live with 4 cats and pre-transplant I had pet allergies, and yet now I don't have a problem with them.

As for my forbidden foods weekend, I have survived with none of the digestive consequences that I was worried about. I feel really, really well and just want to forge ahead through next week. Maybe I'll have some answers about what's going on with my blood numbers. Local doctor's appointment on Thursday, then we're back in Houston next week to see what we can see.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I had my first beer since being diagnosed and I have to admit to being underwhelmed. I managed to drink 1/4 of a long neck before I just couldn't stand the taste anymore. It was one of those souless ultra-light beers marketed to the low carb crowd. As my friend Caroline will tell you, I generally prefer something you could stand a spoon up in. I'll shelve the whole idea of drinking beer until some time further in the future. Chris suggested I try a glass of wine and after the whole beer debacle I had to decline.

Today's adventure included a salad binge including some yummy blue cheese. You'd get really excited too, I promise. I had a strange moment while crumbling the cheese because I started fixating on the blue veins. I thought it might turn out like my first reintroduction to fresh fruits and veggies. There was a slight learning curve as my digestive system got used to actually having to work for its keep.

So, beer and cheese. Hold me back.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We just drove in from Houston and are both very tired.

I learned on Tuesday that Dale Inouye passed away and have been struggling over the news. For those of you who are new to the blog, Dale was my inspiration and my hero. He'd been fighting leukemia from the age of 2 and though we never met, I followed his blog when we were introduced to it shortly after I was diagnosed. When I felt overwhelmed, I'd think of Dale who fought for seven years and always seemed to be smiling through it all.

If you'd like to read about Dale's fight go to http://inouyeboynumba3.blogspot.com

I know I promised an update tonight, so here it goes:

I met with my transplant doctor on Wednesday after having blood work done and she reassured us that I was doing fine. My white blood cell count was down from last week's reading of 2.5 to 2, but my absolute neutrophil count had increased from 0.6 to 0.7. This situation isn't unusual and my doctor has seen it in other patients. She explained that it could be the result of one of three things.

1.) Chronic GvHD--I am currently suffering from a bout with this and I have evidence of elevated numbers of eosinophils in my blood which are a strong indicator of a GvH flare up. As if the rashy, itchy, blistering skin didn't give it away.

2.) A build up of Bactrim in my system. I've been on a steady diet of Bactrim since my days as a leukemia patient and it's not unusual for it to cause a severe drop in white blood cells. Why now, you ask? I couldn't really say, but I have been taking a healthy amount of bactrim for more than a year as a prophylaxis against pneumonia and it has steadily been building in my system. As a side gripe...wouldn't you know the month I stop taking antivirals I get the flu and a cold. I don't want to tempt fate, I'm just saying.

3.) A low grade infection that hasn't manifested itself in an outwardly physical manner yet. I wouldn't be surprised. To a vagabond virus or a gaggle of misguided bacteria, my new immune system probably looks like an easy mark. I imagine the stem cells are rather like college freshman trying to navigate a huge campus on their first day of classes. You remember, trying to look desperately adult while you run across parking lots surreptitiously checking the badly printed map clutched in your sweaty palms. LSU is a big campus and it's not unusual to have classes at opposite ends of the campus with only 10 minutes to sprint for your life. I'm a 5'2"(almost) woman in her early thirties with a new immune system designed for a new born. I'm sure the little stem cells get a bit overwhelmed by their new environment.

There is still some concern over my GvH of the skin. It's never really resolved, especially on my hands. I was surprised to find out that it's infiltrated my nail beds and that I'll probably lose my nails. The good news is that nail prosthetics actually exist. Could you imagine putting on 10 little fake nails everyday? The debate continues over whether to start me on systemic steroids to reboot my immune system or continue trying to treat the GvH at a local level. There's a real danger if I'm placed on oral steroids that the PTLD(pre-lymphoma) will come back with a vengeance since my immune system will once again be severely compromised, giving the EBV that I carry a chance to knock me out all over again. Freaking mono. At 18 I never would have believed that it could lead to re-occurring tumors all over my body fifteen years later. I've done that once, thanks very much.

Dr. Kebriaei consulted with Dr. Hymes(my dermatologist) and the consensus was that I needed to be re-evaluated before we made any decisions. There are a few options open to me before I have to go on oral steroids. Vanity be damned, but I could care less if my fingernails fall out if it means not having to take a chance on a second cancer that I've already experienced once before. I also seriously doubt that I would wear fake nails to hide the fact. Let people stare if it comes down to it--I'll just be happy to be around to deal with it. I'll see Dr. Hymes in two weeks and I'll also have a follow up with Dr. Kebriaei.

I had to have a skin biopsy because of my skin GvH. Silly me, I just thought it would be a skin scraping this time around. I should have known better when the new PA walked in loaded down all sorts of neat instruments. I got a shot of lidocaine in the back--feel the burn--and a respectable punch of skin taken from my upper shoulder. This required a very small number of stitches to close up and as of this very moment just feels like a minor wasp sting. Lucky Dr. Hymes gets to take the stitches out when I see her next. :)

In the mean time, I have to see my local oncologist next week to have blood work done. My transplant doctor decided to have me stop taking bactrim and gave me a neupogen shot to stimulate my neutrophil production. I was scheduled to stop taking Bactrim in May so this is like getting a half day off from school. It's a really big pill and it does interesting things to my digestion, so I won't be sad to see it go. I've had a few bone pains from the neupogen shot, but it's always been manageable. The hope is that my immune system will start behaving and start cranking out the appropriate cells. I'm still neutropenic, but I've been given the go ahead to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

Just to test the waters, I asked when I would be allowed to have all of the delicious soft cheeses that have become contraband due to my weakened state. Much to my surprise, most of my dietary restrictions have been lifted. I've been given permission to have the occasional glass of wine or Guinness. I can stuff my face full of brie and Maytag blue cheese without having to worry about any scary infections or reactions. You'll all think I'm crazy, but I got more excited about fresh fruit and cheese than a glass of red wine. I have yet to indulge in any of these things since we've been on the road for the last two days. Sushi and "raw" meats are still off the menu for another year or so. This means that I will have to wait a few months more before I can enjoy a lovely medium rare steak. I'll live

I saw my opthamologist today for the GvH of my eyes. She told me that my eyes look perfect and that I can cut back on cyclosporine drops. I've been doing drops four times a day and it's really amped up my tear production. There are times when I'm lying down that my eyes just start to well up and shed tears as a result of my prone position. It's a bit of a nuisance. I can go back to just dosing twice a day until further notice, or the rest of my life. Since my vision is still 20/15, I can not make a single complaint. Not having to track down reading glasses just to be able to read big print is a very welcome miracle. Now that I don't need reading glasses I managed to find the pair that have been missing since October. Luck and coincidence are fickle things.

It's just about 2AM here and I am exhausted and heart-sick. I'll let Chris fill you all in on the finer points of our visit tomorrow. Please say a prayer for the Inouye family and my transplant buddy Leslie who has been stuck in the hospital these last few weeks fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It was a very long day at MDA today with another to follow tomorrow. We elected to drive both ways each day, so I am brain dead. I didn't want anyone to worry since we haven't posted since last week. All the news was of a positive nature today, but I'm too tired to get into it right now. I promise to post something late tomorrow night when we get in from Houston. Sleep tight.

Friday, March 14, 2008

News about the Accident

Day +289

I got this email from my Dad today...

...The man [I hit] is recovering and his wife called last night to say that he was out of ICU and that his neck was not broken but there was a fracture. He is able to see out of his eye and is beginning to recover from the pain of the accident although not yet completely. I am doing fine no pain - just praying...

The Mazda 626
Dad's SUV

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Found out that my Father was involved in a car accident in Alabama. He apparently hit a stopped car from behind at 70 Mph. The other driver broke his neck and may lose his eyes. My Dad's SUV is totaled as is the other guy's sedan. He sounds OK on the phone, but he doesn't want to be examined by the doctor at the ER. Frustrates me because he has a heart condition that he is frequently in denial about.

I'm tired of worrying.
Day +288

Written language can be a funny thing, the same can be said of human perception. I once took a class with a particular professor in my chosen major who insisted that we write in single stroke upper case. I subsequently went on to take three other classes with him, so my handwriting became upper case block print. I didn't think anything of this since everyone else in the professional field I aspired to also wrote in the same style. Unfortunately, my day job wasn't in this field.

I worked with a person who could kindly be perceived as "high maintenance". Generally not a bad person, just difficult to please. When I would leave a note behind to explain what had been going on when he was off, it was written in single stroke upper case. I soon discovered that this left him unhinged as he would call me angry and upset that I would be "yelling" at him by leaving written notes all in capital letters. His perception was that I was being irrational by writing in all caps. I explained the reason behind my handwriting to no avail. Our supervisor had to intercede to calm him down. He eventually backed off of me, but when a subordinate left a note written in all caps, he exploded all over again. I'd received several notes from the same person and she just wrote with the caps lock on. Perception.

The same guy used to get really bent out of the frame when I said, "Okay," while he was explaining something to me. For example: "You do it like this;" "Okay." His face would get very red and his manner would become brusque. At one point his body language started setting off my alarm bells so I just asked what the problem was. He felt that I was mocking him and blowing him off every time I said "okay" to acknowledge that I'd heard and understood him. It would appear that this is what he did when he was dealing with someone who he thought was inferior. I suppose the lesson that I'm trying to convey is that we're all on a different page as far as life experiences and perceptions go.

It's not my intention that people perceive Chris as an "alarmist" who "incites hysteria." An angry and hysterical mob wielding pitch forks and torches has yet to ring my door bell as a result of Chris' actions. I sincerely believe that Chris is one of the reasons that I got my transplant. When my insurance company refused to pay for my transplant because someone in the "medical field" reviewing my case said it would be experimental, Chris took it upon himself to contact every major cancer research center to get their foremost expert on leukemia and transplants to write a letter of protest. Most doctors obliged gracefully. Chris was able to assemble quite an impressive and pedigreed list of doctors' letters arguing that stem cell transplant using cord blood was not experimental. The insurance company flipped its decision regarding my transplant before Chris was able to submit the packet. It would seem that the doctor who reviewed my case was a GP with no experience with transplants, stem cell or otherwise. The reversed decision was not an act of compassion, but rather a decision to avoid bad publicity in the very likely case that I died as a result of their actions. There's more to that story, but I'm not going to get into it.

Chris was asked to turn the letters over to the head of transplant research. He had managed to accomplish something that they didn't think possible. It has now been turned into a packet that I believe is used whenever other patients run into similar insurance problems.

Chris makes sure that I follow doctor's orders to the letter of the law. When he's not clear on something, he asks questions to be sure. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and gets teased about it regularly by staff because "you can always spot the engineers by the questions they ask." These are the guys who make sure that buildings don't collapse and machines are designed to perfom a "function". As far as design goes, I'd rather get involved in something knowing that the person who designed it asked a lot of questions and was supremely anal in making sure everything was as it should be. I'm just one of those people who doesn't relish laying under a pile of concrete because someone was having an off day.

I know that I'm reacting to a comment that was left and I'm sure that the person that left it was only trying to be helpful with good intentions. It's just that "hate" is one of those words that makes people stop actively listening. It tends to create an irrational feeling of bias regardless of an innocuous context. As for people in the "medical field" hating family like Chris, so be it. No single person is infallible and we all hate being questioned to some degree. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life that were corrected when someone "questioned" me. There are a lot of professions that get lumped under the banner of "medical field," from very well compensated doctors down to nurses' assistants who aren't so well paid. So, if a person with an extensive medical education resents me or a family member who peppers them with questions regarding a loved one's health, so be it. I'm currently watching someone die of a disease that is similar to mine because she's happy with the status quo and her doctor tells her not to worry that she's been running temperatures of over 102 for the last month. Her family members don't ask questions of the medical staff and friends that have dared to question the doctor's decisions have been brushed off as "alarmist." I suppose it's all in a person's perception. I've been in identical situations to hers and my team acted differently and I'm grateful, because I'm still here.

By no means am I slamming the medical community, far from it. There are so many bright and talented people in this community who are really working to make things better. These men and women have my utmost respect because they do such an emotionally and intellectually difficult job. I've been lucky in that my care has been under some very amazing doctors and nurses.

If my doctors and nurses get a bit piqued because I or Chris ask too many questions, then so be it. They're allowed to fire me as a patient. There is no law that says they have to have me as a client. They are encouraged to speak their mind and very often do with no lasting ill will on my part. I very much appreciate a doctor or nurse who can have an open dialogue with me. When I was getting ready to be transplanted, I learned that the average successful transplant patient weighed 5 to 10 kilograms less than me. Wanting to be in optimum shape on transplant day, I asked my doctor if I should lose weight to ensure success. I could tell by her startled look that I'd surprised her. Then she started to laugh quietly and told me absolutely not. Had I not asked, I would have been on some ridiculous diet in the midst of treatment. The thought still cracks me up.

I promise, Chris is not an alarmist and doesn't mean to incite hysteria. He's just a man who is worried about his wife and whether or not he'll get to spend a long life with her. As for me, I am following doctor's orders for when I'm neutropenic. This means no crowds of people and wearing a mask when I go out in public. No fresh fruits or veggies unless they've been cooked thoroughly; making a point of keeping my hands clean and not touching my eyes or mouth after handling something. Chris doesn't keep me locked up in a sterile bubble, I promise. Those of you who know me know that I wouldn't tolerate it. So, as far as following doctor's orders...check.

For the person who left the comment, I hope that I have not offended you and I really do appreciate that you spoke your mind. If you stop reading the blog as a result of my response, I'm sorry, but I had to let you know how I felt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grrrr

Day +287

I'm back to living in my gilded cage, hiding behind a surgical mask and washing my hands every few minutes. Hooray! My temperature is normal for me and even though I hate taking my temperature every few hours--it smacks of cancer treatment--I do it because I love Chris and hate for him to fret. Dr. Kebriaei called this morning and she's siding with my local oncologist as far as my counts go. It's just going to be a wait and see campaign. Fine by me, but I don't know if Chris will be able to survive the suspense. I have appointments at MDA next week, so the wait won't be all that long.

On a lighter note, I spotted Minnie the hit-and-run puppie out with her owner the other day. She's still wearing her sassy pink cast and I'm supremely happy to report that she's gained weight and can now be comfortably called a "chubby puppy".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Neutropenic Again?

Day + 286

WBC 2.5 K/uL
RBC 3.79 M/uL
HGB 11.7 G/dL
PLT 368 K/uL
ANC 0.6 K/uL

We had our follow up today with Ann's local hematologist and I can honestly say that I am concerned. The reason why is that Ann's absolute neutrophil count (ANC) has dropped below the threshold normal range of 1.0 - 1.5 K/uL. Ann's Hematologist says that this could be a normal reaction to the bug she picked up last week and it may clear itself. Further he indicated that he didn't see a reason to worry because Ann's counts were roughly the same as her last blood test.

I was (and am still) worried, so the first thing we did when we left his office was to call MDA and see where Dr. Kebriaei wants to go with this. In the meantime while we are waiting to hear back from them I am going to be proactive. Ann has enjoyed freedom from neutropenic safeguards for the last couple of months, but that ends today until this situation is resolved.

So it is back to taking her temperature multiple times during the day. No fresh fruits or vegetables to eat. Most of all though, it means that our little excursions to the market or grocery store will have to come to a halt and when in public a mask will no longer be optional equipment.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried or scared. I'm very much both. Why would Ann's ANC count cut itself roughly in half from 1.3 K/uL since our last check up to 0.6 K/uL today? What are the baby stem cells up to? Is this all part of a normal fluxuation in the production of blood cells that infant immune systems go through?

I wish I knew the answers. All I do know is that when I look into her beautiful brown eyes I know with absolute certainty that I love her more that anything else I can imagine.

By the way I should add that Ann says she "Feels great!" and doesn't see what the fuss is about.

Note: I do feel fine and I do understand Chris' concern. Let's not forget that I finished a round of anti-biotics last Tuesday because of an indeterminate bug. My local doctor says that my ANC is in keeping with that information. I'll be careful and I'll take all the precautions that I took when neutropenic during chemotherapy.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I keep blogging about how nothing is happening this week and it occurred to me this morning that that's not really true. I've talked about how my GvHD of the skin has been flaring up, but I haven't really been giving the whole story. Don't get excited, it's not salacious.

My hands have never really recovered from my initial bouts of GvH, especially the area around the nail beds. It's very prominent on both middle fingers and has caused the cuticle to completely disintegrate. The skin is very prone to tearing open in a ladder rung fashion up to the first knuckle, which causes considerable discomfort. At any given time the skin peels or scabs over which necessitates moisturizer carried on my person at all times. Every room in Dixie's house is replete with its own bottle of Cerave lotion.

This morning I woke to find that the GvHD has moved down on the inside of my wrist. There is a red peeling patch of skin roughly the size of a quarter about an inch down from the manifestation on my palms. It looks as though I must have been scratching it in my sleep because it looks a little abused.

I felt the need to call my dermatologist at MDA to get permission to start using steroid cream to treat all of the patches covering my body and discovered that she'd taken a short sabbatical. After much holding and transferring, they were able to track down one of the other dermatologists working with her on my case and she was able to set a course of treatment. I get to apply steroid cream once a day for the next week and possibly the one following that in the hopes that the baby stem cells back off of my skin. The doctor will be checking in with me in about a week to see what's happening. I thought it was interesting to learn that my most recent bout with the flu could be responsible for causing the flare up. Apparently, viral infections trigger the cells' memories, causing them to go crazy. She also informed me that stress can bring on an attack. I suppose I can look forward to a life time of dealing with this issue. If this is as bad as it gets, I can't complain. It's irritating, sure, but it could be so much worse. This time around it's on my legs, arms, feet, hands, and maybe my face--this could just be a break out, though.

The next time I'll see dermatology is in July. No worries.

On the field trip front, I got to go to the dentist with Chris this morning. I am a freak of nature in the sense that I love going to the dentist. It was really nice to get to visit with Dr. Cyndi and Dr. Toi. If you are in need of a dentist in the BR area, Premier dental care is amazing. I got to watch while Dr. Cyndi worked on Chris. Poor guy had two cavities filled, but the good news is that there was no mention of a follow up visit. I'm sure Chris was very much relieved since he doesn't share my enthusiasm for dental hygiene.

I plan on working on a bit of knitting this weekend to keep myself busy. I'm psyching myself up to attempt a sweater. There's something terrifying about having to put together a fabric puzzle when you're actually the person responsible for creating the pieces. Early recipients of strangely shaped scarves--Tina--will be happy to know that I have mastered the rectangle and am no longer menaced by the specter of mis-shapen gloves.

Now, for purely selfish reasons, I must take the time to thank my fellow transplant bloggers--Susan, Nancy, PJ, Leslie, Michelle and so many others. You guys are all so amazing and your comments never fail to conjure a smile. Also, the voyeur in me appreciates being able to peer into some one else's life. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Nothing of consequence to talk about today. I managed to go to the grocery store without bursting into flames every time someone sneezed. We did cut it a bit close, since it was after 3 when we checked out. The place was starting to fill up with little children and frazzled looking moms.

I haven't seen a doctor in over three weeks and that's as close to normal as I've been in over a year. I'm looking forward to next week's appointment, if only to confirm my feeling of well being.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I took my last Z-Pak yesterday, much to the relief of my poor digestive system, and things look good. Of course, the storm front rolled through, bringing strange atmospheric changes that set my new allergies off. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Over the last few days, I've noticed that Chris has asked about my GvHD more often than normal. Every day was peppered with questions about how my skin felt, were my eyes bothering me, etc. He has a theory that when my GvH goes into hiding, my immune system is gearing up to fight something scary, like the flu or EBv. This held pretty true during my recovery from the flu. My hands stopped itching about a day or so before my symptoms fully manifested and while my immune system was busy fighting the new invaders, my skin and eyes got a break. As soon as I was over the flu, the scratchy watery eyes and mega-itchy hands returned with a vengeance. My hands stopped itching sometime last week and the cold or what ever it was took over.

This morning Chris was all smiles as he reported that I kept scratching my hands in my sleep. Indeed, they are especially itchy today and my eyes are back to feeling like they're coated in sand. I suppose dealing with minor GvH is definitely preferable to dealing with the scary germs and viruses. I will admit that I miss the days pre-leukemia when I was able to take feeling well for granted and a sneeze was just a sneeze. I'm sure this is the lament of most recovering/recovered blood cancer patients.

Since the little germies have been banished, my appetite has returned in triplicate and I'm eating like a champ. As a result, the scale displays a very ugly number every time I step on it. I'll get it right one of these days, but until then, I'm going to go enjoy something deep fried and crunchy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The bad weather has finally rolled in and I'm currently watching a sad and dejected Pez languishing by the front door. She's determined to go out and investigate the rain herself and I'm determined that she won't.

The Z-pak seems to have done the trick and my cough is history. A nurse from the stem cell transplant clinic called this afternoon just to check in and be sure that I was taking my prescription. As if I wouldn't. I know that there are non-compliant patients out there who think they know better than the doctors. It boggles the mind.

This weekend was nice and quiet, although I was a bit concerned that Chris was going to have an aneurysm Sunday. I talked him into taking me to a rather large and busy craft store in the hopes of finding really long circular needles for my knitting project. He was on high alert and made sure he always got between me and anyone who might wander down the same aisle. I know that he knows that germs and viruses won't stop at the invisible line drawn in the sand, but it makes him feel better to do something. At one point, I was considering some yarn when the squeal of an approaching baby literally made Chris jump out of his skin. I figured that since I couldn't find anything that I needed, it was time to take mercy on Chris and leave the store.

So, that was it. No scary news to report, which is how I'd like to keep it.