Sunday, December 21, 2014

T It Up!

Good news on the T cell front - Ezra's T cells have reached the normal range! We also received the results of the general function T cell test and his T cells have surpassed the "two-thirds of normal" immunological marker. They aren't functioning normally yet, but they are making slow and steady progress towards a safer place. Looking back to September, Ezra still had very few T cells, and it felt like we would never see the day when he would have normal T cell numbers. Now, three months later, he made it!

Although we have reached this milestone, nothing changes as far as his treatment and isolation. In fact, Ezra had normal levels for these tests prior to transplant, but this is an important milestone for a post-T cell depleted transplant patient. We still need to see if he can make antibodies in response to the vaccine. This will be the true test of whether he is cured. Another round of tests to see if he responded to the vaccine have been sent to the lab, and we should have the results in the next couple of weeks. Please send some positive antibody thoughts Ezra's way!

We have also continued the slow wean of the immune suppressant. Getting off the immune suppressant and steroids is another challenge that Ezra needs to surmount in order to have a properly functioning immune system. His doctors are keeping a close eye on his counts to make sure there is no autoantibody flare up while we wean. So far, so good. 

We have been fully enjoying the light of Hanukkah this year. It isn't just the giant menorah that is once again on our front lawn. It is the love that has been bestowed upon Ezra. He has received gifts from many people who we know wish him good health most of all, but want him to also enjoy himself in the meantime. He is having a blast! 

We also had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays at Menorial Sloan-Kettering's annual pediatric holiday party. We spent time with Ezra's wonderful primary nurses from his time in-patient and celebrated with the doctors, nurses and staff who have gotten us through the most difficult times of our lives. It is also Ezra's favorite time of the year at the hospital because hidden away in the basement level is a magical hallway transformed into a winter wonderland by the operations staff, including a model train display that always captivates Ezra. We've become experts at finding light in even the darkest of places. Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Living In Limbo, But It's Ok

We had a chance to speak with Ezra's primary transplant doctor this week at clinic about the state of Ezra's immune system. As we wrote in the last blog post, we have been feeling very unsettled by the fact that the part of Ezra's immune system that isn't working right now (the ability to make antibodies) is exactly the main part that wasn't working prior to transplant. We got back the results on the vaccine antibodies test from a couple of weeks ago. He may have responded to the polio part of the vaccine, but for complicated reasons, the results are not clear. He definitely did not yet respond to the other viruses/bacteria in the vaccine. Ezra's doctor believes it is too soon. They will check again in two weeks. 

If he still has not responded, Ezra's doctor assured us that she does not think that it is because of Hyper IgM Syndrome. She said that the communication between the T cells and B cells that is needed for B cells to make antibodies (and what Ezra's immune system was not able to do prior to transplant) is the last function to come back post-transplant, especially in T cell depleted transplants. She is optimistic that if we can get him off the immune suppressant, then with time the ability to make antibodies will come. His IgG also stayed the same for the past two weeks. It would be reassuring to all if we can see an increase in IgG, but we will certainly take stability - and it buys us another two weeks without IVIG. 

Ezra's doctor also explained that Ezra is in a safer place in terms of handling an infection now that he has more T cells and their function is improving. They are most concerned when there are low numbers of T cells and they aren't functioning. We obviously don't want to test this out, but it was very good to hear that he is making progress. Another T cell check is cooking in the lab and we should have the results in a couple of weeks. 

Thankfully, we have started weaning the immune suppressant. The wean will be slow over several months. He is still on a very low dose of steroids and we will hold him on this dose for now while we wean the immune suppressant. We are praying that he doesn't have an auto antibody flare up while we are weaning. 

Despite all the uncertainty, we are starting to feel like there are slivers of hope for the future. For the first time, I bought a shirt for Ezra during the holiday sales to put away for next year. I had never before allowed myself to buy something in advance for him. It always seemed presumptuous to think there would be a next year. Throughout this journey we've learned the hard way to never think ahead and to take each day at a time. We are starting to allow ourselves little glimmers of a healthy future, and we so hope we aren't proved wrong.