Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Piece of Red Left My Atlas Today

The title comes from an old Boomtown Rats song. It refers to the collapse of the British Empire. The disappearance of more pink cells from the spreadsheet of my lab results reminded me of the song.

As of today, my white cell counts are all back in normal range! I have a functioning immune system again!

That means soon I'll probably get off my last remaining drugs. I'm currently taking Flucanazole to prevent thrush. Thrush is an opportunistic fungal infection of the mouth that occurs when one's immune system is compromised. I've had it several times during and after treatment.

My rebuilding immune system should also help finally get rid of the sinus infection.

My only remaining blood abnormality is anemia. Apparently that will take a while longer - it takes longer for the bone marrow to produce red cells and for them to mature. I can try to eat more iron but Nurse Practitioner Kate says it probably won't make that much difference. My blood iron levels are healthy already.

The three numbers in the lab results that are still pink that are most pertinent are HCT (hematocrit: the percentage of blood volume that is red cells), Hgb (hemoglobin: the stuff that carries oxygen) and RBC (red blood cell count).

I also currently have excessive monocytes (a type of white blood cell). That is probably due to the sinus infection.

Another value still out of range is RDW: red cell distribution width. Mine is high, meaning the variation in size across my red blood cells is higher than normal. My guess is this is a reflection of the fact that I have a lot of immature (small) red blood cells.

In other news...

I have had a couple of very good days yesterday and today. During my visits today with the nutritionist and nurse practitioner it hit home that I really have made a ton of progress. The nutritionist was very impressed with the variety and volume of what I've been eating. Nurse Practitioner Kate was pleased with all the drugs I'm no longer on.

After my appointments I was hungry. We went to the Dana Farber cafeteria and I had my first meal away from home since June. I had some cream soup and a yogurt smoothie. It felt like quite the milestone to me.

And it's connected to another milestone: today I will get all of my 2000 calorie target through my mouth. I only used the feeding tube to get in extra fluids today.

Perhaps there is light at the end of this tunnel!

1 comment:

  1. Hooray!! So glad to read this good news! Take it easy, keep getting better, and enjoy these lovely fall days... We look forward to having you back at work when the time is right. Hugs!