Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dad was right

There was good news in my future, and now it is in my past:  the results of the cytokeratin staining are negative!!!!  Woo-hoo!!!!  There is no evidence of a tumor in my T9 vertebral body.  Also, now that I am personally reading the report, I see that the atypical cells were "rare" in my sample.  That is promising, it seems.  So, what do we do now?  We keep an eye on T9.  Another PET scan in 3 months.  Life goes on (albeit with some temporary back pain--turns out it's not so bad).

More good news regarding my platelet magic:  the solution to the riddle is that my body is producing antibodies to heparin, and these antibodies also attack platelets.  Heparin is a substance that gets injected into my port after every use to prevent blood clots in the port.  It is not surprising that after 4 months of continued exposure to heparin my body is producing antibodies against it.  The bummer is that these antibodies apparently also attack platelets, which I do not fully understand but certainly is not cool.  Solution:  no more heparin in my port.  Instead my port will be flushed with saline after every use.  This might put me at an increased risk for blood clots, but a girl can't live without her platelets.  By ceasing exposure to heparin, my body should stop producing anti-heparin antibodies, and my platelets should live in peace.  In the short term, Dr. Surgeon says she only needs my platelets to be at 50, so I should be good for Monday's surgery.  We'll check the platelets again tomorrow.

Regarding the contaminated platelets, it seems that I have emerged unscathed.  I asked how I was able to receive contaminated platelets, what part of the pipeline broke down.  Dr. Oncologist said that platelets have a greater risk of being contaminated than red blood cells due to extra processing, and that bacterial contamination is detected by culturing (think Petri plates).  Usually these bacteria grow up within a certain amount of time (probably 2 days), but the bacteria that were contaminating my bag of platelets grew slower and did not show their ugly faces until the platelets were already administered.  Hence the contamination being missed, and possibly hence me not being sick right now.  This last part is my own addition, and my thinking is that my body has been able to fight off these slow-growing bacteria that were not adapted to my Wonder Woman bloodstream.  Considering the incredibly forward technology that I have at my fingertips everyday at work, it continues to amaze me that such low-tech methodologies persist in medicine.  Said another way, I can't believe that we are still culturing to detect bacterial contamination.  But I digress...

Last but not least, my cold:  pretty sure it's turned into a mild sinus infection.  We're skipping the CT scan this time and going straight to antibiotics.  Gotta get this knocked out before Monday.  I don't want anything to delay Monday's main event.  The red spot that chemotherapy chased away is starting to come back a little bit, but you can only see it after a hot shower.  Nonetheless, I'm ready to no longer give this spot access to my body.  I have mentally quarantined it, but I need some surgical assistance.

NOW my back hurts.  Time to give it a break.  Thank you for being with me today.  Thank you for being with me this week.  Hardest week since October, to be sure.    

23 comments:

  1. !!!!!!!!!!!! SWEET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!OOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGG!!! Words don't express my excitment!! I love you so much

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  3. Uncork the champagne!!!!!! FREAKIN" FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!!! :) :) Such wonderful news!!

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  5. I've never been more happy to hear the results of a cytokeratin staining before. Man - huge sigh of relief over here!

    Is it happy expletive time? Because I've been practicing...I have a few good ones ready to go! :)

    So, so glad!

    Bec

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  6. GIGANTIC exhale!!!!!!!!!! Whew. Sending love. Always.

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  7. Awesome news! May this be the first of many more positive developments.

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  8. Good thing that bacteria is your b&*@#.

    Better that your news is good.

    Best is you!

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  9. Wahoo for a healthy T9! I wonder if they could inject the anti-coagulant that is produced by the medicinal leech (I think it's called hirudin)? I was possibly going to be doing some whole blood experiments & that is the anti-coagulant I would have to use. Keep kicking @$$ on the bacterial/viral/cancer front!

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  10. I just did my happy dance in my cubicle! I am sure that the CVB lab staff on 2nd floor North is wondering what the heck is wrong with me and monitored the situation to make sure it wasn't having a seizure (yes... I am actually a pretty bad dancer!).

    Disappointed to hear that you are not a magician after all. I guess I will have to find other entertainment for Erin's birthday party!

    Man... I am tearing up and grinning ear to ear right now! Awesome, awesome news Heather. Now, prepare to ditch that boob and then the dancing (on the beach) can begin!

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  11. Freeeekin fantastic and a BOOOOYAHHH (from guess who!?)!!!!! Keep the great news coming!

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  12. That's wonderful! So happy to hear your news!

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  13. Finally some good news! You guys deserve more of it! Love you so much!

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  14. SO happy to hear the good news!! And thank you for the wonderful scientific explanation of your low platelet count! Being the huge nerd that I am, I looked up the structure of heparin. I'm sort of surprised that it's immunogenic, but how interesting is that?! Not cool for you since you're making the antibodies, but I'm glad you got it figured out. And how scary that you were injected with strep!? High fives to your killer immune system for wiping that out. Good luck on Monday! Love you!

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  15. Heather Kae, your complete and total positivity and love, even in the darkest of your hours, inspires us all. We are better collectively on so many levels to bask in your loving light, regardless of your situation de jour. Also, if you'd be so kind, please tell your Warrior Husband how much we love him for maintaining course in the worst of your darkness.

    Freakin Team Allen prevails to the next battle on Monday...again, as you always do. Damn if I don't love me some BOOOOYAHHH today!!! RJC, you done nailed it son.

    Eastbound and down is now replaced with Eastbound and done. Hang on to your a** Fred.

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  16. Oh man. I have the biggest whole body sigh ever. I'm mad I was so scared. Whatever T9. You don't scare me
    (anymore.)
    Love you and thinking about you. I don't want to bug you in your pre-op prep. But call if you want help/to hang out.

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  17. What wonderful news! I'm hanging on your every word, so thank you for all of them. You are amazing.

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  18. Heather, Thanks so much for keeping us so informed. I love reading the blog. This is stupendous. Now the mind and soul bridges can turn to Monday to make things go rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright that day.

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  19. I had told Hilary that when I tried to comment on your last post but I kept filling the spot up with expletives. I was prepared to teach you some new curse words Hats off to you girl. You are much stronger than I could ever be. FINALLY some good news and you can move forward. I think of you and your family every day. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  20. wow. just wow. I wonder how many other people have been holding their breath for you. ok, collective exhale......other than that , I am at a loss for words.....

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  21. Great news Heather!!! Justin read me the blog post while I was washing dishes last night and we both felt a huge relief from the good outcome. I just wanted to share with you that I'm learning all about your testing here at Mayo so as you post lab tests I can go look them up. I just finished a rotation in the coagulation lab where one of the things we learned about was HIT....which is actually quite common given the huge number of people given heparin (up to 5% of people treated). The antibodies recognize the heparin-bound platelet which is why your platelets drop. The lab result they look for is a drop in platelets of > 50% usually between 5-10 days post-therapy start (obviously not for you). That's the sure-tell sign of HIT and they take you off heparin right away. Anyway, enough of the lab nerd stuff. Keep enjoying the high of your negative cytokeratin staining (I don't rotate in that lab so I have no pearls of wisdom). Justin and I both wish you the best for Monday!
    -Leslie

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  22. Oh Heather, I'm with everyone else in saying YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank god. I was scared, but I"m so so happy that the universe has recognized what a wonderful and positive person you are, and that you definitely don't deserve this shit.:) Take that T9, beotch!

    p.s., thanks for the science, and also thanks leslie for the anti-heparin update!

    much love and kisses to you and ian and the girls!!!!!!

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  23. There is no better feeling than the feeling of knowing your faith is in the right place, it's more than just believing it's knowing.
    Your Father is so awesome
    .... so is your earthy one! I am so happy that you have that kind of person in your corner. That by itself is a blessing. <3

    I have said it before I think - if you want to walk on water, you gotta get out of the boat. Think beyond your realm, beyond your realm.
    Great news to give great praise about.

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