The downside of my very own militant union

Workers marching on strike

I’ve told you many times that I revere my esteemed hematologist, Dr. Blood. She has kept me alive and well since my diagnosis with leukemia. I’d be long dead without her. This knowledgeable and dedicated physician has well earned my adulation.

During each of my hospital stays since I’ve been under her care, Dr. Blood has appeared on an as-needed basis just like a fairy godmother, consulting with the doctors charged with my care. She doesn’t interfere; she’s just hovering in the background if she’s needed, although she does add her two, five, or even ten cents’ worth if it’s warranted.

During my recent hospitalization, Dr. Blood visited me briefly for the first few days to make sure I was on track. She reviewed my file before she came and was always up to date on my condition and my care. Each day I peppered her with questions, and she always answered patiently and clearly. She even minimized the effort she expended overseeing my care, framing her visits as “social” and blaming them on her obsessive nature.

Over the course of my infection, my blood counts tanked. My white count fell within the normal range, which is atypical for me, my platelets, which had recently reached a safer higher level, began to fall, and my red blood count, which had, after months of iron supplementation, finally reached the normal range, dropped precipitously. Anemia, here we come, again.

I expected the dropping blood counts had something to do with my infection, but I wasn’t sure how. So, during one late-day visit, I asked the esteemed Dr. Blood to explain what was happening. She provided her interpretation in beautiful terms that even I, the concrete one, could understand.

“Think of your bone marrow as militant union workers, ” she said. “If conditions aren’t perfect, those workers will refuse to do their job.” Thus, my blood counts would be expected to drop while my body fought the widespread infection, and to rebound once my condition had improved. Makes sense, doesn’t it? No wonder I’d lost my appetite. My innermost innards were on strike!

The day I was to be discharged from hospital, my platelets were especially low. The resident discharging me wanted to top me up before he released me, but first he asked: “What would the esteemed Dr. Blood do?” J. and I knew exactly what Dr. Blood would do. She would say: “Big deal. Don’t play tackle football or get into any bar fights for a few days and you’ll be fine.” Upon hearing this, the resident sent me away with follow-up bloodwork to review with my doctors, just in case.

Yesterday I went for that bloodwork, and tomorrow I will review the results with Dr. Family. If my newfound voracious appetite is any indication of my internal strike status, I expect good news. Dr. Blood received a copy of this bloodwork as well, which of course she will review. If she has any concerns, she’ll alert me. That’s just the obsessive way she is. Takes one to know one.



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