She explained that my hemoglobin levels have gotten lower since last week. (And the week before.) She said at this point, with my level at 8.7—normal is 12.5-16.5—she could authorize a blood transfusion.
Blood transfusions sound scary, but I think there is still a lot of mental backlash in people's minds leftover from the '80s. My understanding is that procedures have been improved to the extent that doctors can pretty much guarantee there's no leftover Hepatitis or HIV floating around in there.
Yes, of course, there are always risks. My dad told me about a patient who swore that after her blood transfusion she became allergic to avocados and horses, or something like that. Definitely the avocados. So who knows what little wacky thing could happen to me?
I've chosen to do it because my short-term goal is to be in the best possible shape I can be for my next chemo treatment (a week from today, next tuesday) and I think I will most likely stand a much better chance if my blood levels are stronger and I'm not super sick and anemic. The transfusion is this Thursday, so I'll have the four days before the chemo to balance out.
I can sense the drop in HGB (hemoglobin) pretty intuitively. I do feel more fatigued, more winded, several levels less energized. In fact, my whole experience over the past week has been that since last tuesday, when the first round of chemo peaked in my body, I've been aware of some more "cancery" feelings creeping back in. I got some gnarly hives on my legs twice in the middle of the night this week (see ugly photo below), have been running that low grade fever, and then sweating like crazy every time it breaks.
All of these things, I think probably including the drop in my HGB levels, tell me that the cancer is in some way holding a little more sway, and isn't currently being run off like a cat with a water gun, which is what I'd like.
The other thing that has to be considered is that if I weren't to do the transfusion, we would be gambling that my blood levels would be high enough to the full dose of chemo next week. If the levels stay this low or get lower, it is likely that they would have to reduce the dose a second time—and that is not my purpose.
My purpose is to be here getting chemo and thus getting cured from cancer. There's no other way to say it. So if a blood transfusion, a simple preventative measure, is what it takes to get more chemo and less cancer, then I'm all about it.
(Thigh Hives! Not for the faint of heart.)