Thursday, July 22, 2010

Driving solo

I had a GvHD check-up in Houston yesterday, and I think my transplant doc's exclamation, "Has it already been a month?" pretty much sums it all up. I have been in a doctor's office every two weeks like clockwork. It's either been for GvHD or some pedestrian crud.

Taking 0.5mg of tacrolimus twice a day seems to have done the trick. My GvHD is back in line with where it was before the flare-up: just enough to be very mildly irritating, but not life-threatening. I still need to use the steroid mouth-rinse, because the tissue is still sensitive. I get a blister on the left side off and on.

Chris was swamped at work and so I made the trek alone. The drive was pleasant mostly thanks to my sweet hubbie's thoughtfulness. He assembled a music play list containing my favorite band and gassed up the car the night before.

Five hours of driving, four hours of MDA, and then a little over five hours of driving home. Exhausting.

Here are the numbers for those that are interested:

WBC: 7.9 K/UL

RBC: 4.07 M/UL (WOO-HOO!)

HGB: 12.8 G/DL

PLT: 362 K/UL

ANC: 5.34 K/UL

ALC: 1.28 K/UL

AMC: 0.92 K/UL

AEC: 0.29 K/UL

My tacro level is less than the measurable amount, which is fine, because it's keeping things in line. Dr. K. ordered an immunity panel which returned in the low end of normal, even on tacrolimus. This is a good thing and shows that the killer T-cells are theoretically capable of doing the job, so to speak.

As for me, I had a few curve-balls to throw at Dr. K. The first on being the laundry list of vaccinations LSU wants me to have before they'll allow me to attend classes. Dr. K. had a letter drafted explaining why I can't have them and explained that due to my compromised immunity, there is a very large chance that getting these vaccines would end in a reactivation of these viruses which would lead to some seriously bad stuff. The second requirement LSU has for me is a PPD test to show whether I've ever come into contact with TB. They want this because: A) I was born in Asia, B) I have had leukemia, and C) I take immunosuppressants. MDA doesn't normally do this test in-house. It's a skin test that must be read 48 hours after giving it.

Since it wasn't a practical proposition to have it done in Houston, I'm going to see if my local oncologist can do it. If he can't, I'll find someone. I also need to see about getting a temporary parking pass that allows me to park closer to classes. I spent 15 minutes in the sun walking from my car to a test on campus and came away with my forehead, nose, and cheeks covered in small blisters, scabs, and pustules. It itches and is uncomfortable. I was wearing a dedicated sunblock and two other products containing sunscreen. I don't know what doing that everyday would do to me.

My final curve-ball for Dr. K. came in the form of a question: Have you ever had or heard of a female patient post transplant being able to carry a pregnancy to term? Due to the excessive chemo through two transplants, I am sterile. I've been seeing a lot of sensational new articles or documentaries about women in their sixties and seventies being able to conceive and give birth thanks to donor eggs and in-vitro fertilization. If they can do it, why can't I?

Dr. K. explained that she's never had a patient post-transplant do it, but that there is plenty of data that shows that it's possible and does happen. She also explained that she can't see any reason why I couldn't do the same with a donor egg. She cautioned me to wait until I was cancer free for five years. The magical five year mark is when the chance of relapse plateaus. I understand her caution and I also understand that I'll have to see a fertility doctor in order to determine whether this little scheme is even feasible. I'll put it on the back burner while I concentrate on finishing school.

As for that, I have three more lessons to finish and one more test to take in order to be done with my marketing class. I'm up against a hard deadline, so things will be quiet here until the last week of August. If something is wrong, I will post. If something deserves celebration, I will post. If you don't hear from me until 8/21, then know everything is status quo.


Susan C said...

Great numbers, Ann!

I can't believe you did all of that driving and doctoring in one day!

Wiley said...

It's great to hear that the numbers are good! Keep up the good work. LIVE every day of your life; you've earned it!

Jim said...

In the meantime, we expect you and Chris to practice a lot the next few years until you go egg hunting.

Karen said...

Always in my prayers....

Nancy said...

Great Numbers Ann. I can't believe you did all that driving in one day by yourself. Good for you Girl!!! Keep up the good work. I thought at 4 years post-transplant, I could handle the sun with 80 spf block on. WRONG!!! Ended up with gvhd on face, lips, arms, legs, etc... (my lips looked like botox gone wrong) You are right to press for closer parking and keep using that sunblock! Good luck with your class. love ya

lisa adams said...

Thanks for the update. I, too, can't believe you did the trip alone... I will think of that when I do the 3 hr each way to Philly in 2 weeks with Tristan! See, you inspire me in MANY ways. Hope to see good news posts in the next few weeks, and will await your return to fun! xoxo

Ronni Gordon said...

Just catching up. Love the numbers. I also can't believe you did that drive. I wouldn't be able to stay awake!

As you know I've been dealing with some similar ups and downs in terms of getting all the levels right. It's frustrating, but my sister points out that I'm kind of like a chemistry project now, and it beats dealing with something more dire.