Thursday, March 27, 2008

"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.


Asia Blume said...

Hi Ann and Chris! I know we've never had a chance to meet, but we sure know about you. I'm Asia with the AADP in NorCal and we ran some drives with Ann's story on it. Glad to hear your'e still doing well. We're rooting for you! This blog has a couple lurkers from the office, but just wanted to drop a note to let you know.. well... we appreciate the updates and wish you well.

Mara said...

Wow, Chris, you're only the 2nd person I know who has ever seen West World. Wait, Wiley just chimed in, he's seen it, but gave it a negative review.

Anonymous said...

Ann and Chris,

Thanks for letting us know simple ways that we can help others! I sent the message about Erica to all my Asian friends on facebook....and to some people who aren't necessarily even "friends" but are just acquaintances and probably will think I'm crazy! haha. I hope maybe one of them will be compelled to join the donor registry!