Friday, February 20, 2009

If I haven't told you yet, Melissa has been in the hospital for a few days.

Tuesday afternoon, Melissa was admitted to the hospital. For the past month, she has been bruising without apparent cause (she's self-admittedly clumsy at times, so she didn't think too much of it) and getting really bad nosebleeds, sometimes lasting up to an hour. We made a doctor's appointment for the first available time (in two weeks, of course Rolling Eyes )

The night before her doctor's appointment, she fainted. She told me she felt light-headed and, though she's never fainted before, felt like she might. I caught her and lowered her down to the ground as she blacked out. After a few seconds she was conscious again. We decided, with the help of my sister (who is a nurse), to wait until the next day and go to her appointment instead of heading to the ER.

The next day, talking to a nurse while signing in at the Doctor's office, we were told to go across the street to "Urgent Care" because that's all the doctor would tell us to do after he heard she had fainted. Urgent Care seems to be like an ER-lite. They got her in pretty fast, checked her out and took some blood. We waited around for an hour to get the blood work back and found out she was severely anemic. (which is what we expected) As we were headed out of Urgent Care on our way to the hospital, Melissa fainted again. She was already sitting, but this time it took a little while longer for her to regain consciousness. The doctor's and I moved her to the bed and they called an ambulance to move her to the hospital (which is, again, right across the street)

In the hospital they took more blood, ran more tests, and started her on a blood transfusion and iron supplements. The hematologist came and told us that it thought it might be ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) which is a big, long word that means she's bruising, has a low blood platelet count, and they don't know why. Commonly, it's immune related, so her own body might be eating up the platelets that it's making. They started her on an IVIG drip (Intravenous immunoglobulin) and Prednisone (a steroid) to suppress her immune system. They also gave her a couple units of platelets through an IV, to try and boost hers.

This morning, she was feeling a lot better. She was sitting up while eating, and not feeling dizzy. She ever walked around the floor, which is about 100 times farther than she was able to walk the previous day. Strangely, her platelet count wasn't rising from the treatment as it should have, so they think it might be a similar, but different thing called TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) - and they wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy for diagnostic purposes and start her on Plasmapheresis, which is basically taking out her blood and putting it through a sort-of dialysis machine to take out the plasma & mix the rest of the blood with fresh, clean plasma before putting it back in her. They didn't have the big machine to do the Plasmapheresis at this hospital (They're a pretty small, but very nice hospital) so in the afternoon they moved her down the road to a bigger hospital.

Right before I left, at the end of visiting hours, they were re-doing the blood screening (I guess they can't take the other hospital's word that she's O positive - they have to find out for themselves) and as soon as they got the results from that, they would start the first round of Plasmapheresis.

The funny thing about these disorders is that the only way you can tell which one you have is by what treatment they respond to. There's no test that says "okay, you have this." So it's a little maddening, just waiting around and trying to figure out what's wrong.

Melissa is generally in good spirits. She's really being a pretty good sport in light of all the needle-poking, and bitchy nurses (that's a WHOLE other story.) Her mom and one of her sisters are flying in from Seattle (actually, they just landed at O'Hare) to be with her. I took off of work and have been with her as much as the nurses have let me.

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