Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Anemia

Today's entry is more of a journal than anything else.  It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m wide awake.  Some sleep habits that started in the hospital have followed me home and while they’re not bad habits, they’ll be difficult to incorporate into real life.  Right now, I’m sleeping when I’m tired, so last night while watching TV, I nodded off around 6:30. I checked in with family to let everyone know I’m OK and then went to bed about 9:00.  Six hours of uninterrupted sleep leaves me awake at…yes, 3:00 a.m. So, it’s not a bad thing, just a different thing.

My fourth round of stab-me-in-the-back chemo was supposed to happen yesterday morning, but my lab reports showed that my platelet count was below 5,000, which means that I could bleed very easily. So, instead of the chemo, I got a transfusion of platelets.  A normal platelet count is anywhere between 140,000 and 420,000. This is an expected part of the chemotherapy that I underwent the week before last. In fact, I’ll be getting some red blood either today or tomorrow which should help out immensely with respect to my energy level.

When I arrived at the hospital yesterday, I needed to stop by the lab to get my blood drawn before going up to the ward for my chemo treatment. I’m one who will take the stairs unless I have a broken bone, so I climbed the flight of stairs from the parking lot to the ground level and then went up another flight to the first floor where the lab is.  Those two flights winded me like I’d just run a sprint. I’d also been getting a throbbing headache if I coughed.  When I mentioned it to the doctor, he said, “It’s just the anemia.” OK, thanks for sharing.  He pointed out on my lab reports that my hemoglobin was intentionally low as was my hematocrit, both indicators of my red blood count. By explanation, the red blood cells are not just those that give your blood the pretty red coloring, but they carry oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body.  If your red blood count is low, then you can do the math and see that you’d become winded pretty easily. My white blood count is now officially neutropenic again (really, really low – 0.2; normal range is 3.5 - 8.3), so my paranoia about being around other people is shared by everyone. I got some antibiotics and antivirals to be on the safe side, but am still feeling just fine aside from a bit tired…again, thanks to the anemia.

When I walked down to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions, a little flier was on the seat next to me and as if cued up by the universe, the topic was “Anemia: A Major Side Effect of Chemotherapy.” And unlike the leukemia, I have every symptom listed for anemia: extreme weakness and tiredness, loss in concentration, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, headache, dizziness, paleness, and difficulty sleeping.  Lovely, huh? At least I know what this is…and getting a transfusion of blood will take care of most of these problems in the space of a few hours.

Music of the day – “Breathe (2 a.m.)” by Anna Nalick
...you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.

No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe
Be well, stay strong, and just breathe...much love to you all!