Friday, April 30, 2010

Bring on the X-Wing Fighter - Attacking the Lymphocytes

As I wrote about in my last post, while, initially, we thought my thymus was the problem. (Sam says my thymus is like the emperor from Star Wars. The supreme ruler of the most powerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed.)

We now think my lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell responsible for defending the body) are confused and have started attacking my normal, healthy infection-fighting white blood cells (my neutrophils & monocytes). We are calling the attacking lymphocytes the Death Star.

So, how do we defend against the Death Star? Rebel Alliance spy, Dr. Lopez, believes something called immunomodulating treatments will neutralize the attacking space station. We're hoping these treatments will knock down my lymphocytes so my neutrophils and monocytes can grow.

Before they start the immunomodulating treatment, the anti-lymphocyte program, they want to do another bone marrow biopsy so they have a baseline and can make sure there are "no funny cells." (I'm not sure when they will do the bone marrow biopsy. He usually does them on Fridays so it could be as early as next Friday.)

As part of the treatment, I will receive an injection of some type of steroid. (We've already tried quite a bit of Prednisone and while the doctor noted that I responded to it somewhat, he said, I didn't respond well and my response wasn't permanent.) They want to use something more profound (his words).

A few days after they have been able to review the results of the upcoming bone marrow biopsy, they want to give me an infusion (an introduction of a solution into the body through a vein for therapeutic purposes) of something called ATG (antithymocyte globulin) for a few days.

I will also take a pill of something called Cyclosporin. I don't know much about these specific drugs or any potential side effects. Dr. Lopez says they have had good results using immunomodulating treatments. He said it usually really works for patients like me.

He said there are three possible outcomes. One is that everything will be better, meaning that after the treatment, I will have normal numbers. The second possible outcome is that things will be "better enough," meaning I won't have the numbers I had before I became ill but that they will be better than they are now. The third possibility is that the treatment does not change anything. He said having no response is the least common outcome.

Sam said the treatment was like Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Fighter. With the aid of Han Solo, the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the power of the Force, Luke Skywalker was able to successfully hit the small target, and triggered the Death Star's demise.


Anonymous said...

Well then, may the Force be with you!
Angie Degelman ;o)

marymaddux6272 said...

Thanks, Ang!