It was quite the wild ride in Alberta yesterday. First, the NDP swept the provincial election, ending an overly long reign of conservative government. While the election results were being tallied, against all odds, the Calgary Flames won the third game of their series in overtime. I’d love to tell you more but I slept through all of it.
You see, I spiked a fever yesterday, my second in as many weeks, and was out for the count. Before I get into the challenges of the day, let’s focus on the positives: fever begets appetite loss. Between naps, I’m happily moving through the rice phase today. If all goes as planned, within a few days, I won’t have to worry about matching my underwear to my yoga pants. Take that, Chip!
But let’s back up a bit. Before I crashed on the couch yesterday, I went to the Cancer Centre to meet with Dr. Blood. What I learned wasn’t especially comforting. She told me my chemotherapy continues to knock out my leukemia, but, surprise surprise, a blood test has revealed my polycythemia has come back to life after several years of near-dormancy. The doctor thinks my polycythemia may be causing my current health challenges, not my CML.
Does this not sound like a bad joke to you? I’ve told you before that my cancer is the least of my worries, but I was joking.
I haven’t written much about polycythemia in my blog because there hasn’t been much to tell you. Polycythemia is a bone marrow disorder but it’s not considered cancer. People with polycythemia are prone to a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, itchiness, and gout. Let’s skip how polycythemia progresses over time because it’s kind of scary and frankly I don’t want to think about it, let alone worry you.
Unfortunately, medications to manage polycythemia are limited, and not nearly as effective as those for CML. They are largely focussed on reducing symptoms. Once this slow-progressing disorder starts progressing faster, there’s not much anyone can do to stop it in its tracks. I’m just along for the ride, whether I want to be or not. Trust me, I don’t want to be, but I can’t find the exit.
J. and I left the appointment understanding better why I’d been feeling under the weather, but also worried about the implications of this new development. There is a medication that may help me with my symptoms, but I can’t yet add it to my drug arsenal because it may worsen my anemia. So for now I am dosing up with iron supplements, special ones derived from cows’ innards, at a cost of $90/month. Despite our fair country’s socialized medicine, even supplements that are prescribed are not covered by health plans. Being sick is expensive.
If you could pray I get my red blood cell count up, I may score a prescription for this new drug. It won’t cure me of my polycythemia but it will help me feel better. Oh, and while you’re at it, maybe you could pray my polycythemia goes back to sleep for a while. I know your prayers will be more effective than mine, since I ate the Jew’s forbidden fruit–that would be bacon–within the past week. Why would any God listen to me?