Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ill equals normal

GvHD manifests in many ways, and for me it's the skin, eyes, mouth, and occasionally the muscles and joints. It can hit you in a myriad of combinations and no portion of your body is safe. Thursday night, my feet started cramping and the toes kept locking in unnatural positions. When it's at its worst, my toes spread very widely and curl upward. This is what kept happening first to the left, then the right foot.

When this happens, I find it helps to massage my foot. If that doesn't work, I have to walk in order to stretch the muscles. I had a really hard time finding relief and as soon as one set of muscles would relax, the other foot would kick off. I took an ativan in the hope that it might help relax the muscles a little.

The ativan didn't help with the GvHD, but it did put me to sleep, which is all I was trying to do in the first place. Chris woke me an hour or two later because he said I felt really hot and needed to take my temperature. I can be an extraordinarily graceless person when my sleep is disturbed, so I know Chris must have been worried when he did so. 100.8 degrees fahrenheit.

Post-transplant, a fever of 101 degrees fahrenheit is a mandatory trip to the ER. Fever usually means an infection and transplant patients aren't so good at fighting them off without a lot of help. For me, it usually means three or four days in the hospital getting a cocktail of IV antibiotics. Dare I mention the poop swabs?

I did not go to the ER. Chris wanted to take me, but I argued that I'm nearly two years post-transplant and that the fever was probably the result of the excessive GvHD that I'd been suffering with that day. I now believe it was the other way around.

I think the GvHD flares were a result of my immune system reacting to an infection, but not quite understanding how to deploy an effective defense. Instead of sending in a small team of special forces, my immune system went nuclear and started attacking everything, hence the excessive itching and horrible cramping.

When Friday morning found me still feverish, I put a call in to my local oncologist. A nurse returned my call a few hours later. After getting details, she promised to confer with Dr. B. The result was an appointment with his APN, G., for the same day.

Dr. B. ordered so many blood cultures, the phlebotomist had to use both arms to draw blood. When I asked what the cultures were for, she blithely replied, "Everything."

By this time, I was feverish, my head hurt, I was nauseated, I had a sore throat, and all I wanted to do was sleep. G. checked me out and relayed the information to Dr. B. He popped in between patients and looked me over. Because the symptoms of leukemia can be similar to the symptoms of an extreme case of the flu, he decided to check a blood smear. He didn't think that I was in the throes of a relapse, but considering how it all manifested the last time, he wanted to be cautious.

A prescription for Biaxin was called in and he promised to call if he saw anything strange in my slides. I went home and slept for the rest of the day. There was no call, so I feel pretty confident that I'm suffering from some pedestrian illness.

I've been fever free for almost twenty-four hours. I get nauseated if I'm in a moving car, and I'm still not one-hundred percent. I'm pretty certain that the antibiotic is doing its job and helping fight off the infection because the skin GvHD has come roaring back. Although I itch as a result, I'm happy for it. I'd rather have this manageable complaint than the alternative.

Since I'm housebound, I've managed to think up a new knitting project using some yarn that's been languishing in my motley collection, so the down-time isn't totally a waste. I'll resume coursework tomorrow. The deadline is quickly approaching and I have six more lessons to turn in, as well as two tests left. This means I won't be answering calls or be present on the digital front for a bit.

I'll pop in once a week to keep everyone updated.


Susan C said...

You really had me scared there for a minute. I'm thankful, as always, for the vigilant Chris and even more thankful that it appears this "pedestrian" bug is passing.

Ganbatte on the homework.

Ann said...

Susan, I'm sorry. I definitely don't want to worry anyone. I am feeling better & bossing Chris around, so things must be improving. :)

PJ said...

Hope you're feeling better today. Did they leave you any blood?

Ann said...

PJ, I am feeling better today.

Nancy said...

Ann, I'm glad you are fever free. I'm sorry that you had a fever and had to go through all the testing. Take it easy and continue to recover! n