Last Wednesday marked yet another three-month follow-up visit at MD Anderson. This time around I had my patient loyalty card punched in the stemcell clinic. It should have been a routine visit full of all the routine things you get to do post bone marrow transplant. Mostly, it was.
My blood counts were excellent, with nearly everything in the very normal range.
My breathing, however, is not so good. Ever since my initial diagnosis of GvHD in the lungs, I've had a small amount of trouble breathing. High humidity makes it hard to breathe. Allergies make it hard to breath. Extremes in temperature equal breathing torture. Up until a few weeks ago, it was a small thing that I'd grown used to. Roughly three weeks ago, I noticed that climbing stairs would leave me winded. I thought it had something to do with the humidity. When the breathlessness started occurring on a regular basis after climbing the stairs at work, I realized that the GvHD in my lungs was trying to make a comeback. The very last thing I want is a little more of that.
My lungs are filled with scar tissue from the last time I had GvHD there. It gets better, but it doesn't go away. I had a routine pulmonary function test in March. It was almost normal, which is a very long way from the 50% lung capacity I was lurching around with in 2010.
Dr. K. ordered a PFT for me after I saw her Wednesday. I got the results a few hours later while I was on the road home. Diminished lung function. GvHD. I was told to resume the steroid inhaler I set aside three months ago.
If I'm lucky, the GvHD will respond and I will have shown an improvement by my next visit with Dr. K. in September. The last thing I want to do is go back on high-dose oral steroids. It's likely what will happen, though.
I'm also displaying signs of chronic GvHD on my hands. All of my fingertips are torn and cracking. No amount of moisturizer helps.
My next visit to MDA is scheduled for July. Go figure, it's another three-month follow-up. The Head and Neck center own my dance card that day.