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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Bloody Decision

I went in for my weekly blood test today. Until today, it's been very hello-how-are-you, fine-good-no-complaints, great-keep-it-up! And it would end. But today, Delsey, the woman who takes my blood and goes over the results with me, had some more interesting feedback.
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.)

14 comments:

  1. Cool hives. Perhaps "lunar landscape" would describe the temporary condition. You know. Sharing like you are is providing great information to others to approach cancer with more facts and less emotion.

    Is it because you're the daughter of a doctor that you are so matter of fact?

    PS---The haircut looks great.

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  2. I'm sorry about the cancery-feelings, and those hives. You definitely carry off that haircut though! Good luck this week & veel sterkte.

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  3. Fabulous haircut! Where are the modeling shots of you with the scarves? Totally supporting all your bloody decisions. XOX

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  4. Wowie!!!! Do you look absolutely gorgeous with that new 'do!!!!! I told Annie that if I hadn't been growing my hair out for the past year I would have joined you in bald solidarity!!! I've always wanted to have that freedom!!!! Who knows...in the future I may join you. I agree that those hives look like lunar landscapes! Good luck with the tranny-fusion! May the blood of some herculean person be flowing to help you get strong!!!!

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  5. Awesome haircut... glad to see the "all the way" look replaced the "killer mohawk" look. So that's twice now you've shaved your head for a "not-fun" reason.... lice and cancer. Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something... like that you are gorgeous with no hair!!! Next time do it just cuz... third time's a charm, my mom always said. Those hives are disgusting! Now you know why Barb is the nurse and I'm a teacher. Teachers get to send kids to the nurse! By all means do whatt it takes to continue with the treatment and doing everything you can imagine (and some you can't) to kick this thing in the butt and boot it out the door. Done. Gone. Love you. Auntie Coral...

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  6. G.I. Jane! What What. My hero.

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  7. Love the haircut...you have the face for it. Ouch for the hives....I used to bitch about the small, sissy ones i would get...no more! Many hugs to you. When you go to the gym use the cleaning wipes on all the handles you touch so you don't catch any cooties.

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  8. chels and i are sitting her betting on who ANON is. she's got her money on scott. regardless looking sexy kia.

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  9. Hives,hair, and hemoglobin oh my ! I'm O neg, can I ship you a bag ? Agree, nice hair cut ! Hope your Thursday transfusion went well. Who knows, maybe now you can play the Banjo or something !

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  10. Hair cut looks great. I talked to Shahab and must admit I admire you and your manner of dealing with this. I'm sure her are other people with cancer that need someone like you to remind them that fear and falling for the emotions can become an illness by it self. I imagine it is hard to go through all of this, poisoned with the chemo and feeling the way it makes one feel. This is a phase, a hard phase too, that you will get through. Think of all the people who love you (except for one or two) and receive the energy they are sending you. Love your body and be very kind to your body. This is the time for you to receive. Let every one who can help help. Barbara said you have your lavender oil to smell and what about getting massage?
    I love you very much and send you good strong energy. We'll get through this and YOU are the light at the end of the tunnel.

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  11. Hives or no hives, I'd still scissor cuddle with you.

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  12. Thigh hives... Maybe less fun than high fives. But still kind of awesome!

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  13. Stay positive and don't let the man keep you down!

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  14. I'd like to cash in on that scissor cuddle. Alobar, make it a triple?

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