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Immunity, Immunity, Where Art Thou?!

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I walked into the lab again, as I scanned all the familar faces, I saw him! My favorite guy. The one that gets that sneaky, rolly polly vein of mine. Except, this time, I was in for disappointment. It took two tries and a little wiggling to find it. Oh the heartbreak… and the pain. Oh well, I told him I wouldn’t break up with him, he is still my favorite vampire.

This would be the second time in a week that I was in the lab. Last Thursday my labs came back with a very low white blood cell count. An unfortunate side effect of the anti-rejection medications.  It should get better with some time. My WBC was 1.4, at the VERY least it should be 3, some hospitals want you hospitalized at 1.5-2. However, UCSF isn’t one of those hospitals. I had to go get retested this week, it came back low again. It was still only 1.5…  The doctor told me NOT to leave the house. Can you believe that? I’m on house arrest and I didn’t even get to steal an awesome car! Doctors, I think as little kids wanted to grow up and be cops. House arrest…

Now having a WBC of 1.5 means I get Neupogen injections. They are injections that stimulate your bone marrow to produce more WBC’s. Another trip to the pharmacy. Where I get to pick up needles, my favorite things! Then, per my coordinators directions, I have to find a “roll” (her words not mine!) I told her, “Rolls! I don’t have ANY rolls”. She’s never seen me so she didn’t know if she should take me serious or not. It was one of those funny awkward moments. Of course, I was joking, doesn’t every american have some jelly rolls somewhere or another! God bless the USA…

All joking aside, I am not looking forward to this. I have to take claritin and tylenol to help with the side effects. Likely side effects include a fever of up to 102-103, headache and bone pain and more. Some of the more “serious” side effects include paralysis and spleen rupture but hey… it gets my white count up! I don’t understand medicine, it seems crazy to me to take this. I guess it is quite dangerous though for me to have such a low immunity. Transplant patients can and have died from catching a common cold because they have no immunity to fight it. So, I’m praying my white count comes up fast! I’d like to get on with my life.

I also have a bit of good news, for a few days it was a question if I had CMV, a dangerous virus for transplant patients that can take months to get over. If my results came back positive I could have been hospitalized. I am so thankful God answered our prayers as it came back negative.

Not this past week but the two prior to that I’d been feeling awesome. I was out running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I had so much energy! Then, wam bam thank you mam, I lost it. The last week I’ve been laying around the house looking for that energy. I think it ran away with my white blood cells. If you see either, please tell them to come back, I quite enjoyed being a headless chicken.


About Kortni

I received a living donor liver transplant from my amazing and selfless sister, when it failed, I got a 2nd transplant 4 days later from my other hero! I have an amazing family and wonderful, supportive boyfriend. I love hiking, photography, natural health care, being outdoors and crafts. Did I mention that Jesus is my best friend and He has blessed me immeasurably!

3 responses »

  1. Yep, that happened to me too. Low WBC but more importantly low nutraphils count. Mine went to zero. Cause: one of the antibiotics causes this. I forget which one. The Nupregeon you are taking will fix it up. Minor problem.

  2. {{{Kortni}}}

    I would like to invite you to the Liver Transplant Support Group if you happen to be at UCSF on Tuesdays between 1 – 2 pm. I don’t know if you have ever been to a meeting but myself and a number of my post-transplant friends are the core of the group. Sometimes we have 5 people there other weeks there will be 20 people. The size varies but the solidarity we share is always healing. You can share your experience with other post-transplant patients and hear the experiences of others. It is my impression although I could be wrong, that you are comparing yourself to others who have never had a serious health condition. Liver transplant is a life changing event that will affect you for the rest of your life. I am not saying in a bad way but as something that most layman can never comprehend.

    Oh course we all want it to be smooth sailing after going through the ordeal of the transplant operation and recovery. Unfortunately this is not always the case especially during the first year after transplant. There are bumps in the road. No, they are not pleasant and they can be very stressful but they don’t mean that you will continue to have problems in the future. Liver transplant is not for the weak. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to go through all you have. You need to give yourself credit for all you have accomplished. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.

    Most of us that need a transplant or have had transplants are in our 50s. Which is why you heard the “Rolls” comment.

    Us older folks have a lifetime of life experience to draw on to help us get through the psychological aspects of dealing with our transplants. You are young. That has its advantages and disadvantages. Physically you have reserves of energy, healing power and stamina that we can only dream about. But many of us have been through many life crisis which you haven’t. So we have had some experience dealing with big changes in our lives. But I am not saying it is easy for us either. Myself and many patients I know go to therapists to help us deal with our changed lives, suffering, and issues of death and dying. None of us ever imagined such a thing could happen to us. We were in the prime of our lives only to find that without a transplant we only had a short time to live. This is not something anyone is prepared for. There are no guidelines to tell us what to do and how to do it. As you know complications and symptoms can appear when we least expect them. I got liver cancer in June of last year. Could I ever have been prepared for that? No. I am still having a rough time dealing with it every day. I had one tumor, now I have another one. Scared? Yes. Like I have never been scared. Even transplant patients that I know don’t understand how difficult it is. They think cancer is a good thing because I move up the list more quickly. Well that is true but it also means I have a good chance of dying within this year before I get a transplant.
    Sorry to got off the point…but what I am try to say is we are all dealing with some of life’s most difficult issues so it is “normal” to be stressed and worried. If we weren’t than there would be something really wrong.

    I personally find that by talking to others with similar condition helps me to put my suffering into perspective. There is always someone worse off than myself. So I find the UCSF Liver Transplant Support Group invaluable for me. Social Workers Pauline Rogers or Jessie facilitate the meetings.

    Hang in there. Reach out for help. There is no shame in that. Believe me most people can not fathom have you have been through. You are a unsung hero like so many other patients that have faced their own mortality. You have strength beyond what you even realize.

    Hugs ❤
    Patient of Dr. Norah Terrault


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