zen.org Communal Weblog

April 30, 2011

Why Am I Still Here?

Filed under: — brendan @ 20:07 GMT

A few different people have all asked Elana the question, “Why is Brendan still in the hospital?”

Short answer: Because they’re still in the second round of trying to deal with my condition (for lack of a better word).

Longer answer: After the first round of chemo, the expectation was that the leukemia would probably be in remission, and if it was I’d get discharged and come into the “day ward” periodically for the remaining batches of chemo to finish off the job. Unfortunately, after looking at the bone marrow results, they found that some leukemia cells were still there. So on April 12th, I began my second round of chemo.

That went for 5 days, then a 1-day break. Upon completion, we were told it would take approximately 2–3 weeks before we’ll see various numbers, and the neutrophils in particular, hopefully start to climb.  The growth stimulation hormone shots are intended to help encourage this.   It’s now the end of week 2, and we’ve still got another to go in which no changes may occur.

I’m not able to get out of the hospital right now because of those cell counts. No white cells and among those, no neutrophils, mean I’m at significant risk for infection. If right now I went into a movie theater for the length of a feature film, I’d walk out with at least one, and probably two or three different infections which would have a field-day inside me.

Not to suggest I’d be stupid and go into such a crowded place.  But the emphasis is on the fact that I’ve still got a lot of (regretable) physical dependency on being in here.  Alongside the immune system is the periodic reduction of my red cells and platelets, because the chemo is still working away in there. This is one thing which has me curious about the smaller drop of 4 for the platelets overnight (see below)—making me wonder if this is a hint that the chemo is finishing up and maybe next week will show something. But I cannot focus on this or get my hopes up (beyond the bit they apparently already are), because we’ve learned the hard way that it’s impossible for us to predict things.

So we just wait, and hope, and try really hard to not go nuts with the length of time it’s taking.

Dunkin’ platelets

So last night my platelets went from 13 down to 9, and the doctors decided to give me a bag today, and plan to do another tomorrow. (Stay over 10 anyway, and over 20 would be nicer.) What struck me as interesting was the drop of only 4 in the count; previously, they were 6 or more. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But I’ll look with interest at the number tomorrow, after having gotten the platelets today—and what tomorrow’s supply may do to help, too.

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