Friday, September 25, 2009

Low Red Blood Cell Count

Nurse Amy, whom I think is awesome, was my nurse yesterday.

I got Easy Chemo as planned, but in addition I also got an Aranesp injection to boost my red blood cell (hemoglobin) count. My HGB was 9.8 when it should be 12 to 15.5. When Nurse Amy came over with the injection, I thought she was trying to give me the Neulasta injection, which should not happen till next Friday. She explained that we need to boost my red blood cell count. She also gave me a printout of my lab results, which was super cool not that I know how to interpret the 30+ things on the printout.

Aranesp comes with a pretty nice handout. Nurse Amy also talked about how I ought to be eating things that will boost my iron. So on the way home I stopped at a Harris Teeter and got liver. I really like liver!

I have seen Dr Reidel eleven times. One time was when we met for my "second opinion" to review my case and switch me over to Duke. Ten times were for chemo; and eight of those times, I first got a nice long satisfying chat with some random oncology resident who was assisting him. These residents asked a million questions and recorded my answers and all my side effects and passed along the high points to the doctor. (I never realized till now how satisfying it is when someone writes down everything you say!) I know either they or he filtered my info because Dr Reidel would later come in and focus on the important one every week.

The last two visits, however, there has been no resident to chat with. I really miss that! And Dr Reidel does not want to chat. He asks for what's most pressing. As he left the exam room yesterday, I felt vaguely disappointed and unfulfilled. It wasn't till much later that I realized how much I miss his parade of residents.

Ho, but later on, I got plenty of chatting! (People always say be careful what you wish for.) In the treatment room, I sat next to a lovely couple (Chris and Eva ) and chatted with them almost the entire time I was there. He was a "biological" patient -- not a chemo patient -- and she was crocheting and keeping him company. They live like three miles from me!  They sure helped make the time fly by.

Usually, my neighbors in the treatment room simply nod a friendly hello and then ignore me for the rest of the time. That is okay, too, because I bring a book, and my rosary, and my Tetris and just totally entertain myself.


susan said...

Your post sounds sad so I am going to send extra prayers and cyberhugs your direction....with much love, susan and dick

Karen said...

Hey, Susan, great to hear from you! But I am surprised that the post sounds sad. I wish I had time to re-read and revise! But I have to jump in the shower and rush off to the job that I love.

Oh, and people are coming today to clean my house! Nothing to be sad about there.

Regarding the extra prayers: fabulous idea! I appreciate every single prayer because they are working.

Delpfine said...

Liver, yuk! I can eat pate, but that's about it on the liver spectrum. But, glad you like it so you can get your red blood cell count up with something you enjoy. The dark green veggies like spinach are good for iron too. Take care.

omerandpat said...

Do you remember "Karen's Deli" in So. Dartmouth? She had a liver sandwich that was out of this world. You and I made so much about how good it was that Jeff (who Hates lives!) decided to try it. He took one bite and could not get to the bathroom fast enough!! Anyway--do you remember that?
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

I love liver too!! Especially with lots of fried onions and mashed potatoes. We could never have liver when I was growing up because my mom hated it, even the smell. I looked up iron rich food on Yahoo and this is what it said: "One important factor being the form of the iron. Heme Iron, found in animal sources, is highly available for absorption. Non-heme iron on the other hand, found in vegetable sources, is less available. Excellent or Good sources containing Heme Iron: clams, pork/beef/chicken liver, oysters, mussels, beef, shrimp, sardines, turkey.

I wonder if Dr. Reidel would assign a resident every time if you told him it was important to you. The worst that would happen is they say no, which in that case is no different that what you have now. Just a thought .......

I hope you have a great weekend and start to feel OK enough to do nice fall activities.

Love you tons, Debbie P.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried Bison (Buffalo)??? I make burgers on the grill and they taste just like hamburg. It's lower in fat calories and cholesterol and much higher in protein and iron. I too, am low on iron and have been eating this now...

Robyn said...

Been hearing a lot about you from Dan. Sorry I haven't made contact lately.

The other thing is that the next set of residents just arrived in August or Sept and their rotation may not be so they are coming around yet.

Of course, the other possibility is that they heard how much you like to talk from the last class and now everyone runs away on your day!

Seriously, there will be another day with residents-there will always be plenty of them. We used to torment medical students by giving them misinformation when I worked at UNC. It was a bit mean but we tried only to pick on the arrogant ones.

And liver is like sushi-I think others have to get past the idea of it. I luv, luv, luv it. Can't cook it so you'll have to give me pointers.

Keeping you in my prayers!