Friday, December 15, 2006

Immuno Compromise?


Medical Update--Still good on the cancer front. It's the normal germs that are getting us down.

Erin always fools me. Like the combat soldier that says "Bring it on," she gets up and attacks each day anew. Somehow, over the last month, I let her mesmerize me into believing that she wasn't that sick. I kept telling myself that her cold symptoms were improving, that surely the stomach cramps and lethargy form the gastroenteritis were about to wind down, that she always gets a cough this time of year. Taken in combination with her immunocompromised body, it just isn't true, as her blood count numbers told us yesterday.

White Blood Count--2200 (this is low and has been this level for weeks with no improvement)
Absolute Neutrophil Count--1400 (this is low, but not too dangerous. If she entertained a bacterial infection, she could probably fight it off)
Hemoglobin--11.4 (this is a bit low, probably a result of virus)
Platelets--199,000 (this is normal, but much lower than she has been running. Again a sign of general ill health)

Plus, her blood chemistry was a bit wonky. Especially the potassium. You never want to scan the lab report and and see LL next to one of the numbers. That means Extra Low, which is why Erin has added potassium tablets to her medical regimen, at least until she recovers. Why does potassium drop? Poor diet and diarrhea. Well, that explains that and also why she has lost five pounds in the last month and why we've had to message her cramping calves at night..

Dr. Russell also tested the three components of Erin's immune system. Surprisingly the IGM, which measures the ability of the digestive system to fight off microorganisms was normal (perhaps finally recovering), but both the IGG (which makes up 80% of the body's immune system) and the IGA (not a grocery store) were low. On Monday, Erin will have an infusion of immunoglobulin, which is like getting a plasma transfusion of thousands of people's immune components mixed together. We're hoping this will boost her back to good heath and help her make it through cold and flu season without further difficulties. Nobody really wants to spend their first day of Christmas holidays in the clinic for five or six hours, but since we had to be in Houston to pick Davis up anyway, we thought we might as well get it done with.

Here's to a healthier holiday!

One non-medical update: Erin thanks everyone who has given up lunch for her. She has received 199 ornaments in the week since I posted the request. That is awesome, and we couldn't appreciate it more. Neuroblastoma is a complicated disease, and we do not know enough about it. Every lunch is one step closer to discovering the silver bullet, which is what we are pinning our hopes on.

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