Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stem cell transplant and Graft Versus Host Disease

My husband has had his transplant and is at the hospital recovering and hopefully his body is accepting the cells. We won't know right away but he gets blood draws twice a day (if I remember correctly) to make sure  he at least is not reacting badly to the donor cells. He will be at the hospital for the next 4 to 6 weeks for testing and monitoring for side effects or rejection. One main risk factor of this type of transplant is Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) where the transplanted cells can attack the recipients body's cells. To some degree this happens in all stem cell transplants but some are more severe, this is why they take so much care to make sure his body accepts the cells. I am not exactly sure when we will get word on if his body accepts the cells, and if the cells accept their new home and set up shop to produce new cells. Here is some more information on GVHD from PubMed Health:

There are two types of GVHD: acute and chronic. Symptoms in both acute and chronic GVHD range from mild to severe.
Acute GVHD usually happens within the first 3 months after a transplant. Common acute symptoms include:

Abdominal pain or cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

Dry or irritated eyes

Jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin or eyes)

Skin rash, itching, redness on areas of the skin

Chronic GVHD usually starts more than 3 months after a transplant, and can last a lifetime. Chronic symptoms may include:

Dry eyes or vision changes

Dry mouth, white patches inside the mouth, and sensitivity to spicy foods

Fatigue, muscle weakness, and chronic pain

Skin rash with raised, discolored areas, as well as skin tightening or thickening

Shortness of breath

Weight loss
If you are curious and want to learn more you can visit the PubMed Health page on GVHD, here. My husband currently is having abdominal issues with a lot of nausea and vomiting, as well as weight loss, I am not sure what his current weight is but since this whole mess started he lost at least 30+ pounds. They have finally managed to get his nausea under control with the use of a regimen of anti-emetics and now an anti-nausea patch. He wasn't able to eat much, if anything, since the transplant (March 14th) except broth and clear liquids. The patch has made great improvements for his nausea and from what he has told me has been able to eat a little better and keep it down. I am planning on making a trip back over to Buffalo within the next week, perhaps next weekend. My husbands father will be in town and I can have him watch the kids and just go spend time (quietly!!!) with him without the boys--which will be so nice!

Meanwhile back here at home, I am having issues with my 3 year old and listening (or rather not listening). He refuses to pick up his toys when I ask stating that 'he is too little' or 'too tired'. It is so frustrating! I already have a hard enough time getting him to eat! For some reason he does not like to eat hardly anything, and when he does ask for something he always wants junk, except he is a big fan of fruit so that is a plus. When it comes to games or crafts however, he is all for it and listens quite well. I think he just doesn't fully understand what is going on with daddy and why daddy is gone so much, and is finding other ways to act out. Not sure if this is normal for a sibling to do this when they have a younger sibling but he keeps saying also that he 'is a baby' and I think he is also having jealousy issues as well. I try to give them each my time equally so no one feels left out. I think this upcoming trip to Buffalo will be a good recharge for me, I will get to see my husband and a brief respite from the kids.

Will try to keep you all updated. I have some upcoming giveaways that I have signed up for so stay tuned in the next few weeks for posts about those!

Jennifer