T + 107 Happy New Year
A very happy 2009 and to you all. I saw in the new year at my friend Andy's house and it was a very pleasant evening.
Earlier in the day yesterday I went to the Transplant Clinic and deliberately didn't put any E45 moisturiser on so the doc could see my flakiness in all its glory. He confirmed that, as suspected, I have the symptoms of Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) with a reddening rash on my chest and neck and dry itchy skin on my face. This means the white cells produced by my donor stem cells are attacking my skin as it sees it as a foreign body. It's very common for this to happen with unrelated donor transplants and can usually be controlled quite easily with some steroid cream or tablets.
The doc prescribed me 100mg of Prednisolone tablets dropping to 75mg after three days and put me back to a weekly clinic appointment until the GVHD has settled down. Steroids are wonder drugs and already my skin is less itchy. They do have some downsides though and in high doses can cause high appetite ( could be tricky for a New Year diet ) affect blood sugar and blood pressure , cause euphoria and difficulties sleeping. When I was on Dexamethasone steroids earlier in the year I did get some euphoria and appetite issues but nothing too difficult to handle so maybe the prednisolone won't be so bad either.
The other thing steroids do ( and they reason they are used to fight GVHD ) is that they further suppress the immune system. So I've got some anti-fungal liquid called itriconazole to take as a precaution and will have to be extra careful about mixing with people etc.
Although GVHD is very common and virtually everyone who has an unrelated donor transplant gets it at sometime, this is a bit of a setback and may delay the process of weaning me off the ciclosporin anti-rejection drugs which will in turn delay my immune system recovering enough that I can get back into normal circulation but hopefully only by a week or two.