Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Skin

It has been two months since I went off of Prograf and the motley assortment of prescriptions that went with it. As such, I've been living with the strange affects of a stand-alone immune system. My two most prominent complaints: allergies and itching.

Pre-leukemia, allergies were a very minor nuisance. After the first transplant, environmental allergies put me on a daily dose of medication. I could not function without Claritin or Atarax. I've been taking Claritin each day for three years.

Since my liver numbers are now slightly elevated over last month's near normal numbers, I've decided to try a little experiment. Many of the drugs that I've been on in the past can elevate these dreaded numbers. So can GvHD. I've decided to abstain from most over the counter medicines--including Claritin, to see if it makes a difference. It's not scientific and there are a host of reasons my liver numbers could be elevated; the most prominent being graft versus host disease.

It's been five days and I'm functional. My nose runs off and on throughout the day and I'm prone to the odd sneezing fit. There's a hell of a lot of pollen in the air, so I'm staying indoors for the most part.

As for my second complaint, I itch. The skin GvHD issue is getting a little worse. There are only small windows during the day when my skin doesn't itch. Very small windows. My arms, abdomen, and legs are covered in multiple, small rashes and stretches of very dry, irritated skin. I keep cortisone cream close to me and have resorted to taking benadryl when the itching becomes obsessive.

That swath of skin across my cheeks and nose has been joined by two new patches on my chin and forehead. It looks like an odd cross between rosacea, eczema, and mid-life acne and--you guessed it, it itches. Sun exposure makes it worse, even with the use of sunscreens.

I'll be going to Houston at the end of June for a quarterly check-up and I'll raise the issues then. My local oncologist is aware of the problem.

I've been staying busy with the class I've been working on and various other things. This week, I've been getting estimates on termite prevention treatments for the house. Formosan termites are swarming this month and one poor homeowner in the neighborhood presented with $50,000 worth of termite damage very recently. I'm all for an ounce of prevention, hence the estimates.

I'm scheduled to have a treatment installed next Wednesday which means Chris and I have a few things to do in order to get the house ready. The planting strip along the side of the house has to come out since the treatment plan includes digging a six-inch wide trench along the perimeter of the house. About half of the plants will be relocated to a new planting bed under the shade trees in the front of the house. The plants that haven't been doing very well in the ground will be transplanted to pots and nursed back to health if they survive the transplanting process.

Yard wok should prove interesting this weekend. I'm sure a post involving out-of-control allergies and new rashes will be appearing shortly thereafter.

6 comments:

Susan C said...

I was just trying to imagine how beautiful your side-yard planting must be by now. I'm bummed that you have to dig up the plants. Will you post a picture before the transplant?

Susan C said...

PS And I must say it's lovely to be transplanting flowers instead of stem cells.

Ann said...

Susan, I will take pictures before we dig in. And yes, this type of transplant makes me smile. :)

Ronni Gordon said...

At the hospital someone called me Queen of Rashes. On and off at some points I was covered. They gave me Atarax (same as Benadryl only stronger and makes you more tired, but it worked for a while. When home, a discovered a great body wash at Whole Foods, big natural food store. Do you have one? If not, I'm sure there's something like it. I can't remember what it's called, but I didn't know the name and they just found it for me. I think it's a body wash for excema. I just said I was looking for something for itch. White bottle, pump. It calmed me right down.

An itch can drive you crazy!!!!!!

Ann said...

Thanks, Ronni! The next time I'm at Whole Foods, I'll ask for it. I put a request into my transplant doctor for some Atarax. It helped me with itching after my first transplant. The itching is definitely driving me to distraction!!!

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