Friday, July 22, 2011

7 month post-transplant update

On Monday, Chris went to Montreal as part of the research study to have a Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) scan.
These scan are very similar to an MRI scan, however, they are able to evaluate the severity of MS, establish a prognosis, follow disease evolution and most importantly, evaluate the effectiveness of drug and treatment interventions.

Chris will have this scan, in addition to two MRIs, each year to monitor his progress.

We had travelled to Montreal on Sunday, so that I could do some shopping and Chris, who had never visited Montreal, could see some of the sights. And of course, because it was a weekend and we didn't even think to pack our contact numbers for the hospital, something weird had to happen to Chris.

Earlier in the week, Chris had started to get really itchy dry skin. He works outside most days and is awful for remembering sun screen, so neither of us thought anything of this. By Friday, he was covered in small, extremely itchy hives, all over his body. We assumed it was maybe an allergic reaction to something.

Two days on Benadryl and train ride to Montreal later and the hives were bigger, the itching was more intense and Chris was a pretty miserable guy. In addition, his skin became so sensitive that anytime anyone touched him he would break out into goose bumps.

Unfortunately, we ended up having to call everyone in the Ottawa hospital before we were able to get some advice, which provided little reassurance: see a doctor immediately. So,  Chris ended up having to spend two and a half hours at the walk-in clinic to find out that they had no idea what was wrong with him.

Chris finally made it back to the Ottawa hospital to see Dr. Atkins. There was a concern that he might have chicken pox (since he would have lost his immunity to this due to his transplant), so the nurses and doctors had to be extremely cautious. The likely suspect is that Chris has conveniently developed an allergy to one of his medications. So now he has been taken off all medications and he will be reintroduced to them slowly to determine the culprit.

The irony of this all is the treatment plan for Chris' hives.  When Chris had the transplant, he celebrated that fact that he would never have to take another Rebif injection or take steroids whenever he had a relapse. To try and combat the reaction that he had from his transplant medication, Chris now needs to take steroids for the next week.

In terms of improvement, Chris was able to walk approximately 10 km in extremely hot weather in Montreal, with only one break (to have world famous smoked meat sandwiches). Last year at this time, he wasn't able to walk 2km without being in pain from his leg and needing a break, and at the MS walk in May, he needed to have a break on the 5km walk.