Where oh where has my marrow fat gone?

This blog was supposed to be an anxiety-free zone, but I have been failing at this mandate recently. Here’s our lesson for the day: fearing the worst is a waste of time. The sky is not falling after all. My apologies to any followers who have been as worked up as I’ve been over the past few weeks.

Picture of prepared bone marrow appetizer.

This must be somebody else’s bones.

J. and I met with my fantastic cancer team this morning for results of my bone marrow examination. I learned, not for the first time, that I am a mystery, an anomaly, an enigma. The testing revealed that, although my bad CML cells are greatly diminished, my bone marrow is not in sync. Marrow for someone of my age should approximate a 50/50 ratio of blood/fat cells. Because I am oppositional by nature, I am sitting at 95/5. Yes, indeed, my marrow bones are low fat. They would not make a very tasty appetizer for a cannibal.

This means that too many blood cells–likely white blood cells since I have an abundance of them–are hanging out in my marrow, squeezing out the fat. Why might I have such an excess of white blood cells? Of course I, a lowly layperson, am perplexed, but so is my hematologist, and even the pathologist. This pathologist’s words (yes, we eavesdropped on the speakerphone conversation): “She’s a funny one.” It’s one thing to stump your esteemed specialist, but quite another to stump the one who’s supposed to tell the esteemed specialist what’s going on. I am surrounded by highly respected medical professionals who have no idea what is wrong with me. Frankly, I quite admire them for their honesty.

Layperson or not, I can explain what is going on: my marrow fat cells have migrated to my belly, where they have instigated a sit-in. This migration is serving two purposes that I can think of off the top of my simple head. First, these cells are providing a protective layer for my very delicate spleen. Whether or not I play touch football, my ginormous spleen is a precious specimen that needs buffering. And, second, these congregated cells are beckoning pregnant women and those with young babes to smile sweetly at my little belly, as if to say: “Maybe we’ll meet soon at Mommy and Me.” It’s all good.

Funny enough, my hematologist does not buy my interpretation; rather, she feels additional testing is warranted. Thankfully, she vetoed the pathologist’s suggestion of another look at my marrow. Instead, she sent me back to the lab for additional, more involved bloodwork, which will take about 6 weeks to come back. But since I gave up waiting last week, we’re not sitting around in the meantime. The doctor approved travel to locations free from potentially dangerous infections, so we’re booking a vacation. I’ll let you know where we’re going.


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