Where to begin? So much has happened in the past couple of months since my last update. First, an apology for a lack of news for those still following Zoe’s progress. My father became ill in April, and over the course of 2 months was in and out of the hospital. He lost his fight on May 26th, his health was just too poor and immune system too weak to fight off infections. A bitter irony, to be sure.
Michelle and I have been juggling the girls, work, and illness of one kind or another now for so long, it has become our norm. We’re still hoping for that break in the clouds though, when Zoe’s health is clear and the rest of the family remains in good health as well. Oh for the days of just work and family.
Zoe has generally done very well in recent months, with one unsettling exception. She has had rashes that have come and gone regularly, but seemed to get worse as we tapered her tacrolimus, which is the immuno-suppressent medication that she was expected to be on for approximately a year post-transplant. We’ve passed that point and so continued with her taper, but when we actually stopped it, the rashes seemed to get worse to the point where we felt we had to restart.
Michelle and the girls went to Duke on Monday, and their level of concern was high over the rashes. So high, there was even talk of a return of HLH, though we have to believe that’s not possible. The thinking until now was that the rashing was the result of a drug interaction (possibly sun sensitivity, a side-effect of tacrolimus) or something else, perhaps hay fever or an allergy. There is also a risk it could be GvHD.
Zoe’s last chimerism test to determine how much of her immune system is donor and how much was hers was very positive, >98% donor. As I understand the science, this should mean little or no GvHD, which is why everyone has continued to feel the rash was something else. It has proven persistent enough and has increased not decreased, so we have to find the cause.
We’ve ordered a new chimerism and we’re very anxious and scared about the results. Hopefully the result is the same and there is something else going on with her skin. If her graft has begun to dip, things will get much harder for Zoe again. She was due to have her port out in a week — that’s not looking like it will happen yet.
Zoe’s mood is good, she’s had a great few months learning to play with her sister and having new experiences since the end of flu season. She’s been able to play with new kids, visit lots of places she didn’t get to go this past year, and even spend a week at the beach (inside during the day). She looks good, not withstanding the rash, and when she’s not itchy she feels good.
We are trying to remain optimistic that we’re still on course and that this is just a confusing detour. Everything has gone nearly perfectly so far, it would be heartbreaking to have to restart any portion of her treatment, and a nightmare to contemplate another transplant and the huge risks that that would entail. I’ll update again when we have news to share.