Friday, March 30, 2007

Another Round of Good News & Hope for More Healing

It's been seven days since we were at our lowest emotional state over Brianna's condition. Since then, good news has trickled in over the week and yesterday afternoon brought even more.

For the past three days, Brianna has been getting G-CSF, a drug that stimulates the bone marrow to turn any baby cells into white blood cells. Plus she's gotten two infusions of blood donor white cells, or granulocytes (named thus because under a microscope smear you see granules). These infusions have skewed the numbers on how many white cells her own body is making, so it looks like a lot. But in fact, they are just blood donor cells that will die within 24 hours.

So she was purposely not given another granulocyte infusion for a day, so we could see what her body was doing. Tuesday night she got an infusion and at midnight afterward, her WBC (white blood count) was 4.2. On Wednesday morning, it naturally dropped to 4.0 as some of those donated cells died. It fell even further to 3.5 close to midnight that night. Then, at 6:30 on Thursday morning she got her third dose of G-CSF to help her body make its own white cells and later in the afternoon, her white count jumped to 5.0!!

When Lizi our nurse practitioner who takes care of us told us, I cried. I asked several times, "Can that be right?" How could it go from 3.5 at midnight to 5.0 without any infusions?? Well, her marrow must be kicking in!! Of course, our dear sweet daughter is skeptical just because she doesn't want to get her hopes up. And I must admit, as happy as I am, I am also fearful that it won't really be true. And, admittedly, a part of those cells could still be from the last white cell infusion. BUT, even if only a portion of that, say 2.0, was hers we would be so overjoyed!!

So it's been decided she won't get any more white cell infusions from volunteer donors, starting today. And it was nice that my donation yesterday morning will most likely be her last. I wasn't able to give her a huge bump - only 405 ml of white cells versus the typical 700 mls most male donors provide. But at least I was able to contribute.

I arrived at 7:30 am, after taking G-CSF about 12 hours before, to get my body making lots of extra white cells. About five minutes after they put the IVs into each of my arms, black splotches began to appear. I said, "Uh, I think I'm going to faint. I'm feeling really dizzy and faint." They immediately scrambled around to lower the head of my chair, told me to take deep breaths, turned off the machine and put some cold compresses on the back of my neck. They said it was a vaso vagel response to the needle punctures in my veins. I had no control over it. So after 10 minutes of getting me stable, the process began and worked until almost half way through. That's when my right arm stopped cooperating. After several more IV punctures to find another suitable vein for the return of my blood, we had to call it quits.

I had been sitting in the chair for almost three-and-a-half hours, and they said I need to be rehydrated. I kept apologizing about how difficult this was for them and they were very nice telling me it was no problem! I felt so bad. I had only given a little more than half of what they wanted.

The doctors said it was fine and that actually it was better they didn't get a huge amount. So Brianna got some of my white cells, and it only bumped her up a little bit - her WBC was 5.8 as of midnight that night. So I have a huge bruise on my right arm, but it did feel good to contribute. I also got a taste of what poor Brianna went through with all those weekly needle sticks from October to February. She is such a strong person! My experience was nothing compared to what she's endured.

Monday will most likely give us a real picture of where her white count stands. The doctors are pleased and she'll get G-CSF every other day, then taper off.

As for her lung infection, an x-ray yesterday showed that there is a little more fluid around it. This makes it difficult for her to practice her breathing - something she hates anyway because it causes her to cough. Her left lung is perfectly clear and we pray it stays that way. Now we hope for some miracles to be worked on her infection.

Surgery is looking more and more like a reality, but it really can't be done until her platelets start being produced. So once her white count is stable, we're looking for her platelets to come in. Unfortunately, it could take weeks. We are left playing the waiting game on her lung. I can't tell you how stressful it is to just wait.

So we're going to try to get out on the roof and walk around today. She is very naucous again, which is most likely the gunk from coughing and quite possibly a touch of graft-vs-host of the gut. But we've come so far in seven days, and we thank God for all the good news we've gotten in the past week. We just want it to continue, and hope for some healing on her lung.

A couple of my friends came by yesterday to say hello and gave me a hug. Ingrid and Tilma's visit was a total surprise, and was so nice. We chatted about our life here at the hospital, Brianna, and health. I got an update on all the tennis happenings in my area, and it was nice to talk about normal stuff, even for only an hour. They literally popped their heads into Brianna's room to say hello and gave her a very sweet Easter basket, and left because, Brianna didn't feel well. It was a nice break for me.

Later that afternoon, John came over with our clean laundry and mail. Brianna was still sleeping so we went to a little restaurant across the street. Again, it was so nice to get out just for an hour. We also celebrated the good news about her whtie count. When we got back, Brianna didn't even know we had left. She was still sleeping. Sometimes the guilt about leaving pulls so hard. But I am reminded that I need to replenish my spirits so I can be strong for her. I am looking to help replenish hers with an afternoon stroll outside with her in the sunshine and no mask.

Thank you all for helping us stay strong, to see the light at the end of the tunnel - no matter how small - and to keep believing.


Kitty Forseth said...

Oh Iva!! I am sorry that Brianna is feeling so ill... but the good news is SO encouraging!!! We'll keep praying for the lung infection to heal, and for those healthy cells to continue churning out!!

Thinking of you..



Disgusted Cats said...

Hello my darlins!!!! I am glad for every bit of good news you have received. Yeah baby, lets get those blood cells pumping!!!!!!
We want to see Brianna jumping up and down like Rocky Balboa on the top of the art museum steps when she's done with all this, oh OK, on the steps of the Louvre!!! LOL
Rocky does Paris, or somethin' like that. Love to you both!!!!

JoEllen said...

What good news. I am rejoicing along with you Iva. Thank you so much for sharing the good news with all of us. Brianna is in our hearts and prayers. You are also a very strong person Iva. I know it doesn't feel like it at times but you are! I know how good it feels to be able to do something for your daughter while in the hospital. I was able to give my daughter blood. She had major surgery when she was five. You just want to do anything that might help. I am so excited she made it to 5 how exciting. Yippy. May that sun shine brightly and the walks you get to take do wonders.

Hugs JoEllen

Kathy's Prims said...

Wonderful News Iva!! So happy everything is finally working the way it should! Still sending good vibes and prayers!

chelseatroper said...

I am so happy to read that Brianna is doing better. Tell Brianna that I am thinking of her. We, every one of her friends, care for her so much.She is my hero too!


Kitty Forseth said...

Mornin Girlie Friend... Just thinking of you and sending lots of love across the bay.

xo Kitty