Well, it was old home week at the hospital this week. Yep, we were back in. Didja miss us? As you know, Kajsa is now immunocompromised due to her transplant – the effect of which is that she can have fairly sever responses to some normally benign diseases. So when she began having fevers and a fair amount of lethargy, I packed up a few clothes and headed back down to Phoenix.
Long story short, Kajsa has/had Parvo virus. Yeah, you read that right…Parvo. (You may stop barking now.) This is a human form of the disease and not entirely uncommon. My understanding is that most of us have had it. And that includes you. Yes, you out there. Yipping away just isn’t as funny now, eh?
For the immunocompetent individual, Parvo primarily manifests itself as a red rash on the cheeks and trunk, and clears up in a week or so. However, in immuno-compromised individuals whose immune system cannot properly clear the infection, infection can lead to a depletion of RBC precursors and lead to chronic hemolytic anemia and pure- red-cell-aplasia, a low red-blood-cell count. B-19-specific IgG immunoglobulin prophylaxis and/or RBC transfusion are used to aid immuno-compromised patients in clearance of the infection. This information is ripped from this lovely page provided by Stanford. Thank you, Stanford.
What then, you may wonder, do you do for yon wee Kajsa’s poor ravaged eurythocyte population. Well, we support it, while force feeding her body antibodies. You remember antibodies. They basically attack any recognized foreign body on a cellular level. We do this through an immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy. And this is where it gets kinda cool.
OK, say you go to the local blood drive and offer up your arm to the phlebotomists for the grand good of all. You might think that they take that blood, check it for scary viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis (here I remind you to never use this as a method of screening for a disease – it’s so totally uncool) and then simply dump it into some pathetically needy sick person. But no, it’s way more interesting than this.
Yes, they screen the blood. Then they spin it down to separate the red cells from the platelets. The red blood cells are what are often transfused to patients. They call these PRBC’s, or packed red blood cells. This greatly reduces the possibility of passing on viruses as there aren’t any leukocytes present. This is the form that all of Kajsa’s previous transfusions have taken.
With the rest of the blood, they do many things, including helping burn victims. Pretty nifty, huh? But the part that pertains to Kajsa is the formation of immunoglobulin. This is essentially the process of culling the antibodies from many people’s blood and creating this magical elixir of hard core, bad ass, disease fighting serum. Some very diligent guy named Mike has created a site that tells more about immunoglobulin than you could possibly ever pretend to stay awake for. It is; however, well organized. So if you have a question in mind, you can likely find the answer there.
So there we were for six lovely days watching the sun rise and set while deliciously cool in our hospital room. Almost makes you want to go too, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t so bad.
We got to enjoy the company of some of our absolute favorite nurses…so there was much chatting and gossiping to be done. We made soooooo many crafts. Let’s see we have a caterpillar made out of construction paper, googly eyes, and glued baubles. We created a sunflower from a couple paper plates and glued buttons. We’ve made baby birds, and magnetic photo frames.
I read every pop-up book and/or board book until my jaw ached and memorized all of the Winnie the Pooh videos. Furthermore, I am almost finished with a splendid striped scarf worthy of the pages of You Knit What?, for whom I play a stanza of Taps. May their snarkiness rest in some semblance of peace. You were my semi-secret bitchy outlet.
And after a week of transfusions, IVIG and avoiding residents with their undying desire to test for every disease known to man, Kajsa was deemed worthy of release. She’s still having fevers, as her body is waging an all out war upon the Parvo (woof) virus, as well as whatever else may have been lurking in the wings. I have been granted, once more, the honor of caring for my child. Yippee.
We bolted from the starting gate at 12:30 this afternoon and are looking forward to grilling out from the comfort of our own home this evening. Sigh.
So. What did ya’ll do this week?