Thursday, November 6, 2008

While sitting in clinic yesterday, my forehead started to itch. Of course, I didn't think anything of it when I reached up to scratch it. Gasp! Yes, I scratch in public. It turned out to be not so innocent. My forehead was covered in tiny bumps and as the minutes passed, they began to appear down the right side of my face. The long awaited rash had appeared. My new immune system was picking a fight with me.

When I showed Chris, he smiled in relief. He's been anxiously awaiting the appearance of GvHD and what could be better than a little rash. By the time my APN saw me, the rash had wrapped around the left side of my face and it itched like you wouldn't believe. Much to my relief, she refused to take a biopsy because it would have meant a scar on my face. She's a woman after my own heart. I was advised to apply hydrocortisone cream to it to help control the itching.

Today, I had the opportunity to see my transplant doctor and I'm not entirely sure, but I think she was a little excited by the appearance of the rash. She noted that I was presenting the same way I did last time around and that she wanted me to see the resident dermatologist GvH expert.

As she was leaving the room, Chris blurted out that I couldn't press my hands together like a regular person. This is something that we discovered when I first started physical therapy. My joints are stiff and my range of motion is a little limited. I really didn't think anything of it, but Chris suspected that it might be another form of GvH. He was right. My doctor put me through a range of motion tests and concluded that I'm presenting with classic symptoms. She's scheduling an appointment with the resident chronic GvHD expert to have some statistics and photos taken. As it happens, the resident expert is also the doctor that performed my first transplant. It'll be nice to see him again.

It's not official, but it looks like it's heading that way. Just as a caution, I'll be starting oral steroids and another anti-viral medication since I'll be really susceptible to CMV. I also have to start taking an antibiotic regularly, since the steroids suppress your immune system. Another little gift is that the steroids might make me diabetic. I'll be tested regularly and if need be, I'll start insulin. I'm hoping not.

In a nutshell, I'm an itchy, stiff little mess.


Anonymous said...

Itchy, stiff, little mess-

CONGRATS! I am thrilled you have some GVHD. Well, maybe not "thrilled" but relieved that there is some presenting. Your new immune system is kicking in.

Keep goin'!!! You are doing great-

Susan C said...

"My new immune system was picking a fight with me." LOL

May the GVHD continue to be enough to show that you're in the fighting game, but not enough to knock you out.

Thinking of you ALWAYS!

Jim said...

I'm with Susan ... LOL and Dori is too as I read this to her. GVHD, do what you need to do - the good stuff - and then be gone. Jim

Wiley said...

There's nothing quite like hoping that an old friend will develop a rash! I'm delighted to hear about your rash (and stiffness) this is the really good bad news we've all be waiting for! Keep it up, Ann! We're thinking of you!