The past few days have been stressful, tough, and full of anxiety as we face our first bout with the unexpected. About a week ago Dan started having diarrhea, a very common (and expected) side effect from transplant treatment. After it continued for days, he tested positive for a bacteria called C-Diff, another common consequence from extended antibiotics. Dan started a new series of antibiotics that were meant to clear up the bug and his diarrhea; however, quite the opposite occurred. The volume continued to increase to a concerning level so doctors started mentioning the dreaded phrase - graft versus host disease (GVHD). In short, GVHD happens when donor cells attack the recipient and begin to kill cells they don't recognize. Dan is on medication to help the cells work together, but often there is a battle between donor and recipient that result in some, sometimes very serious, complications. Yesterday, Dan had an EGD procedure where a camera examined the linings of his digestive tract. Results confirmed moderate GVHD so steroid treatment started right away. We're upset that we are facing an unexpected complication, but are grateful doctors caught it early and started treatment right away. GVHD is a very common complication that is successfully treated in many cases. Please continue to pray that Dan responds well to standard treatment and "the big d" (as the Lyons family has dubbed it) clears up over the next few days.
In other news, and probably worth mentioning first, Dan has reached a white blood count of 500! He has to stay over 500 for three days in a row to officially officially be engrafted, but we are on day two and optimistic. He is feeling so much better overall and is currently enjoying a milkshake in his chair watching Notre Dame on their way to 11-0. Dan is seeing a physical therapist to rebuild his strength and teach us the right way to exercise post-transplant. The PT quickly learned Dan's competitive spirit when he insisted on more reps, steps and stretches than he was asked. His mucositis cleared up and he's had a normal temperature for days. The IV nutrition is gone and there are fewer and fewer bags hanging on his pump every day. Basically, if it weren't for the GVHD he would be on his way out of here.
We've been feeling the love from all of you through your cards, emails, and facebook posts. Every day, but especially on the hardest ones, it's great to smile for a few moments when reading the words of family and friends. My mom surprised us with 90 countdown bags labeled by day and filled with items from our family. Each bag has a note, comic, picture, or prayer to pick us up and give us a smile. We love opening the bag each day and guessing who sent each item (something tells me my dad is responsible for the wishbone from family dinner). The pile is already shrinking as we make our way to 100!
much love and big hugs - and don't forget to pray that the big d goes away so we can go home and spend Thanksgiving with Colin and Kathleen!