For the last week or so, I’ve been sitting around, waiting for my counts to come up, so I can be discharged. The counts in particular that we care about:
A measure of the overall ability of your red blood cells to get oxygen to your various body parts. Mine has been hovering around 8.8+/-1 for the past few days. That’s a good sign, because previously, it would go transfuse me up to ~9, wait 2 days to drop below 8, repeat. The fact that it’s just kinda chilling at a number means I’m producing red blood cells at about the pace that I’m consuming / they’re dying. We want me to be producing an abundance of red blood cells, but this is like…stage 2 of the recovery process. A normal amount of a healthy young athletic male should be around 16 to 18. I showed up in the hospital at a 5.
Platelets are in charge of clotting during cuts, clearing bruises, and all sorts of other things. A normal amount of platelets is anywhere between 140,000 to 400,000. Same thing here as the hemoglobin – I’ve been generally hovering around 30,000, because they transfuse me up to 40,000, then it drops down to 10,000 (where it gets very unpleasant – just about anything you do that causes bleeding causes a LOT of bleeding, and just the process of moving around can leave you bruised for days) and they transfuse me back up.
Yesterday I was at 11,000, almost assuredly needing a transfusion today. Today I’m at 13,000 – no transfusion needed. If tomorrow I’m still in the positive, this is a great sign.
The last thing we’re looking for is a specific type of white blood cell. This is really what I wanted to talk about, because the doctors decided to use a drug called neupogen to try to kick start my bone marrow into producing more neutrophils (they’re the white blood cell responsible for dealing with bacteria, and once their count gets to ~1,000, I’m free to go home). Yesterday, my neutraphil count was 165, and the day before, it was 54. Today should be the first day that shows the positive effects of the injection of neupogen, but they haven’t come in with the numbers yet.
What I want to talk about, though, is the injection of neupogen itself.
I got the first shot Friday night. I checked the side effects, which seem to be pretty minimal. One in particular catches my eye:
Some patients that take neupagen experience bone pain.
BONE PAIN? What the HELL is bone pain? Too late now – injection is already in!
I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little sore in my legs and hips. This progressed to real sore by the afternoon. By the night, when I got the second injection, this grew to full on pretty god damn unpleasant.
You know what it felt like?
Remember when you were 11 or 12? And you finally started to grow? But then the backs of your legs ached, and you just had kind of a general pain in and around your body?
Yeah. Like that. No amount of stretching, rubbing, hot compressing really helps. It’s just your bones saying I’m WORKING over here!
Now, I’ve felt worse pains. I’ve torn ligaments, separated a shoulder, gotten concussions, cuts, bruises. Somehow I’ve avoided ever breaking a bone (except for a few fingers, I suspect – never went to a doctor for those though).
This ranked as one of the most annoying types of pain to deal with. To try to help me, the PA prescribed a drug with the nick name “hospital heroin”. I was pretty god damn underwhelmed, to be honest. Took 1mg, waited slightly more than an hour, then took another 2mg. After another hour or so, I started to feel a little better. Whether that was due to the opiate or not, I have no idea, but I asked for a benadryll to help me sleep, and that got rid of the rest of the pain.
What the hell is with me and a ridiculous tolerance to opiates? I’ve never used an opiate before in my life, but regardless of the dosage (we’re still talking normal, human level dosages, not addict level), I’m pretty much unaffected by them.
This is really frustrating.
Oh well. I woke up today feeling much better, although I’m pretty tired. I’m just thrilled I don’t need a platelet transfusion, as they have to give me IV benadryll (in addition to a steroid and tylenol) to avoid allergic reactions. That stuff puts me in a straight up coma for several hours.
Still in the hospital, still not looking like release is as imminent as they had originally planned. Still in the expected range though (I don’t think we start to worry about my bone marrow’s lack of recovery until a minimum date of this Wednesday, although a few days past that isn’t really cause for worry either).
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