I don’t know why I thought Christmas of 2016 would be any better than the rest of the terrible, awful, no-good year. My latest health adventure started on Saturday, Christmas Eve, with uncontrollable diarrhea. It was the type of diarrhea that laughs at Immodium. It continued overnight through Christmas Day on Sunday. I tried to hydrate with Pedialyte and coconut water but it was a losing battle. Mary Pat lobbied me to go the Emergency Room but I was hard-headed and insisted on treating myself. I think after nearly a year of being in and out of the hospital I do everything I can to avoid it. By the middle of the third day Mary Pat showed me a medical journal article that warned that GvHD-related diarrhea could, if left untreated, result in necrosis of the intestines. That news was enough to cause me to give in to her demands. We drove to the Emergency Room at M.D. Anderson late on the afternoon of the third day.
The attending physician there instructed my nurse to obtain a sample of the diarrhea for a culture and to give me 1 liter of fluids and 2 grams of Magnesium. She then sent me home and told me to return the next day to see Dr. C for a followup.
The next day Dr. C informed me that my condition was not likely to be caused by GvHD because my liver enzymes were in the normal range. Mary Pat and I assumed GvHD was the culprit because I was having some skin rashes on my face that were definitely caused by GvHD. GvHD of the intestines is bad news and I hope to never face that problem. The results of the culture came back and it was good news. The true culprit turned out to be a virus called the Astrovirus. It is common in infants and children under the age of 10 but most adults have immunity to it. I have the immune system of an unvaccinated seven month old infant so I was a big target for the virus. I am still recovering from the Astrovirus but feeling a little better each day. I am so ready for 2016 to end. It has been the WORST YEAR EVER!