Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DAY +15: Some Signs of Progress but Still in the Woods

Top Line: the transplant metrics are very good and Susan's temperature is now normal, but the inexplicable pain remains

Let's start with the good news . . . . The top line tells the story but for those who want detail:
-- white cell count - 7.8 (normal range)
-- red blood cells - 3.1 (below normal range but good for transplant patient 15 days out)
-- platelets - 590 (quite high, which is good at this stage)
-- temperature - 97.8 (normal for Susan)
Also, Susan was feeling a little bit better (or rather, less bad) from mid-afternoon on. In part this is due to the morphine (Susan is single-handedly supporting the economy of Afghanistan) but also, perhaps, to the Toradol she is now receiving. Toradol is an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Of course, as the inflammation subsides, so should the pain. Her mucositis may be a little better, but the improvement is so subtle to this point that it's hard to be sure.

We should take comfort from the fact that Dr. Soiffer, Susan's lead transplant doctor, says he is very happy with how the transplant per se is progressing.

And as for the bad news . . . . Soiffer admits frankly to being mystified by the pain and UTI/kidney problem. The news isn't really that bad (except that Susan is suffering) in that the medical team is confident they will manage through whatever it is. Remember that all Susan's doctors are professors at Harvard Medical School, so they presumably are the bow wave of the state of the art of their respective disciplines, and they meet as a team to discuss her case every day.

The current plan is to let the Toradol and the several different antibiotics Susan is receiving continue to do their work, as there does appear to be progress (e.g., normal temperature, waning inflammation), and to provide pain medications as needed. Anything and everything that can be cultured is being cultured (except Bob, who is cultured enough already), but so far, the results have been negative. If she does not continue to improve, the medical team is considering
  • bringing in a nephrologist (kidney specialist) to supplement the urologists on the case
  • consulting with an Infectious Disease Specialist
  • administering a renal ultrasound (this non-invasive diagnostic would be in lieu of the cystoscopy, which they have decided has too much risk for the potential benefit)
That's the news to date. I'll keep you all posted as developments (or the lack thereof) warrant. Let's hope and pray that Susan has a good night.


  1. Dear Susan,

    Hopefully your team of Harvard MD's will drop enough bread crumbs to lead you out of the woods.
    This past year has certainly given me lots of empathy for the ups and downs you're going through. Hopefully, the highs will start to predominate soon.
    Much love,
    Barbara (Hamilton)

  2. Hello, Susan -
    I've been following your progress daily - so pleased to be "with" you in this way! I send sincere sympathy for the pain - it sounds utterly horrible - and congratulations for all that your body is doing right! Sending love,
    Barbara (Felton)
    PS Forgive if this is duplicate, I'm getting the "post comment" bugs out of my system!