Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 4 -- In a Drug Haze

It seemed like Day 3 might never end, with blood products and drugs running long into the night. But, here we are on Day 4 post transplant. Tyler's throat hurt a little bit more today, but we see no signs of the fever and the coughing has essentially disappeared.

One of the side effects from his chemo yesterday are long bouts of violent hiccups. He had something similar with his cranial spinal radiation, but seems to be suffering through these bouts even longer.

Today, they started Tyler on his graft versus host disease (GVHD) drugs. GVHD is a condition where the transplanted cells (graft) attack the patient's organs (host). It often begins as a rash (as your skin is the largest organ you have), but can lead to even more serious complications. Acute GVHD occurs within the first 100 days post transplant, while chronic GVHD appears more slowly than that.

GVHD is more likely if the donor was unrelated to the patient or if there is a tissue mismatch between the patient and the donor. In Tyler's case, his dad is only half match (think back to High School Biology and genetics training -- half of the genetic material is from the dad and half from the mom) so it is likely he will experience some GVHD. In fact, some GVHD is good and is termed the Graft versus Leukemia effect. This recognition of the leukemia cells as unhealthy or foreign can reduce the rate of relapse, as the transplanted marrow and it's blood can kill off any leukemia that might be hiding in the patient.

Tyler's protocol called for the introduction of tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil today to combat the possible GVHD. He will likely continue to take those until 6 months post transplant.

Another new medicine today was Filgrastim. This injection actually stimulates the growth of neutrophils (a kind of white blood cell) in the body. Its goal is to help Tyler's new immune system grow as quickly as it can. He will likely continue to receive this injection until his counts have recovered.

We hope that Tyler does indeed continue to grow some new blood and new white cells. He got transfusions today and the last two days before that, so I am hoping that he can have a day off tomorrow. There are so many extra vitals checks with transfusions that it fills up the day a bit. With tomorrow being Sunday and Tyler (hopefully being filled up with blood) off from transfusions, we are hoping to watch the Superbowl in peace and quiet.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bledsoe family,
    Glad to hear you guys are plugging along. Nick had the hiccups really bad with his chemo treatments as well. The nurses said they could give him some medication that sometime would stop them, but, it never got to the point where he wanted to take it. I don't know what medicine it was though. Nick is on Tacrolimus as well. He didn't start right away though, because the protocol he was on was supposed to keep him from getting GVHD bad enough to require treatment. Unfortunately, that was not the case, so he was started on it a while back.

    Good to hear there is no fever, hopefully it will stay that way. Nick was never on Filgrastim, I am not sure why? Anyway, you and Tyler are in my thoughts and prayers each day. Tyler, hang in there, you have been through so much, just keep putting one foot in front of the other for a while.
    Take care.