zen.org Communal Weblog

July 17, 2011

Dubliner Bruised But Not Beaten

Filed under: — brendan @ 22:47 IST

Since yesterday I’ve had a bruise on my left arm by my elbow, not caused by any bump in particular. To make the day more interesting, I got a higher fever (39.4), which we were able to reduce withcold presses, drinking cold water, and finally taking some paracetamol (acetminophen). I was really tired in the early evening, took a bit of a nap, but at 11 was sleepy again, which was different from normal.

This morning my temp was back down to 36.5. But we found some new bruises, a few on my legs and a couple on my arms. The doctor had warned us last week that a primary side-effect of the Hydrea oral chemo would be a risk of platelets going down, so this seemed to fit. (Low platelets can prompt inexplicable bruises appearing.) When we were talking about it then, the doctor said they’d just do regular blood samples in the Day Ward and top up the hemoglobin or platelets as needed.

Why the concern today? One of my biggest fears is a repeat of the retinal hemorrhaging which happened at the beginning of my first treatment back in March—caused in part due to the really high WBC and low platelets. So E and I decided the best thing to do today is to go in to the A&E (Emergency) department and just get the bloods done now, and either they’d find I needed more platelets, or it would relieve the worry. The alternative would be waiting until tomorrow and bringing it up at St James Hospital while learning more about the clinical trial.

Luckily Elana’s father was able to make a stop in Dublin as part of his trip back from his ongoing research work in Greece. So he was more than willing to mind the boys while we went in to the hospital, and my three aunts were also coming by to see both her Dad and the boys in the afternoon. All of that helps a lot with accepting the time we have to spend here waiting.

The bloods came back decent: hemoglobin at 9.3 (they want it over 9), platelets at 17 (okay for minimum of 10, but over 20 is better), and white cells at 85. That’s still much higher than the 20-30 for normal counts, but it’s got a positive: a few days ago it was 115, prompting the increase in my dosage of the oral chemo. The increased dose is doing some of what was intended. The bogus cells generated by the leukemia are still happening, but the chemo is slowing some of it down, and helping to reduce the crowding of the bone marrow with those bad cells.

The haemotologist upstairs in St Annes Ward (where I’ve spent most of my time these past months) said they want to boost my platelets and red cells. So I got one bag of platelets, and about 2-1/2 hours left of red blood cells. Taking longer, all-told, than I hoped more than six hours ago, but glad we did this.

When in doubt, READ

I’ve finished new Dubliners, an awesome collection of short stories (modeled on Dubliners by James Joyce) which was compiled and edited by our friend Oona Frawley. I can’t recommend it enough, particularly as a gift for anyone curious about modern Dublin life. The authors include Maeve Binchey (Circle of Friends, among others), Joseph O’Connor (author of Star of the Sea, one of my favorite books), and Colum McCann (wrote the awesome Let the Great World Spin).  It has helped pass the time perfectly.

OK, plug finished…

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