Thanks to all who have volunteered to take over nagging J. for me. She was thrilled to learn there will be no lapse in the endless well-meaning harassment directed toward her.
Today I am writing to you from my new headquarters at the hospital, where as we speak I am having first platelets and then red blood cells infused into a vein in my right hand. Dr. Blood Lite arranged these transfusions upon reviewing my blood counts this week. Needless to say, they weren’t so hot.
Another week, another transfusion or two. I am hoping that once my newly started performance-enhancing drugs kick in, my need for red blood cells may diminish, at least for a little while. I can only hope. But my dropping platelets are another problem.
If a lab test result is out of whack, it may be too high (as indicated by an H) or too low (L). Hs and Ls sprinkle my lab results every time I’m tested. This week I hit the critical (C) range for my platelets for the first time. This drop called for a significant change in symptom management.
First, I will be stopping one of my chemotherapies, the nonessential one that was initiated solely to help me feel better. This chemotherapy, like many others, suppresses blood cell production. Since I’m having enough trouble making my own blood cells as it is, I don’t need my drugs to suppress my production even more.
Rather, I need a way to promote my platelet production specifically, and that’s where steroids come in. In my 54 years, I have managed to avoid being on steroids except for brief periods, but Dr. Blood Lite informed me that they have helped people like me create platelets. I have two options: either I endure the aversive side effects of steroids or I bleed out. Which would you choose?
Why have I thrown a tantrum whenever a doctor has tried to suggest steroids in the past? Because steroids are drugs no one wants to be on. They can make people chubby and moody–of course I’ll get moody if I get chubby!–and they can challenge sleep. The potential mood changes range from euphoria to irritability. I’m praying for the euphoria.
Over longer periods, steroids can affect bone density, but I don’t much care about my bones breaking anymore. Why worry about long-term health concerns if I’m only going to be here over the short term?
Steroids may also suppress my immune functioning, rendering me more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but viral infections are more challenging. Shingles anyone? For this reason, I will concurrently be starting anti-viral medication, which, thankfully, is easily tolerated.
Maybe I should consider the potential positive effects. With a bit of weight lifting, I could look like this:
I’d need anabolic steroids, not corticosteroids, you say? Alas.
So I was thinking, if you want to get together, we should probably do it sooner rather than later. I may not be pleasant company once the corticosteroids kick in, and I’d hate to subject you to irritable me. As J. can attest, I’m not me when I’m cranky. If I am a grump when we do get together, remember that I warned you. 🙂