Long time, no post…


It has been a while since I posted, so here goes. Apologies if you’ve been checking to find new news, but circumstances beyond my control…

Hospital… I was in hospital from 17 to 22 May, having cycle 2B of my chemotherapy regime – R-hyperCVAD. I also spent the day in hospital on 16 May having the rituximab for cycle 2B. Time in hospital wasn’t too bad, though I had yet more nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. I also had four units of blood, because I was quite anaemic.

Home… I came home on 22 May, and basically just went to bed. A blessed relief to get a decent sleep. The next day, Wednesday, dawned, and I felt nauseated and tired. Not too bad, though. It was all pretty downhill from there, with tiredness, shortness of breath and dizziness. By Sunday I couldn’t do anything. Even getting up from lying down or sitting was close to the level of my tolerance. I was a bit surprised (perplexed) that I hadn’t heard anything from the hospital, as I’d been expecting to find that my blood cell levels had dropped – they’d been tested on Friday.

Back to hospital… When I woke up on Monday 28 May I noticed that there was a ‘shadow’ in my right-eye field of vision. A bit of trial and error, as well as a process of elimination resulted in my deducing that I’d had a small haemorrhage into the vitreous. That, and feeling truly wretched, short of breath, dizzy, and nauseated led me to ring the haematology resident (most junior physician in the food-chain) at the hospital to check in. It turned out that due to a series of oversights, errors, system failures and cock-ups my Friday bloods hadn’t been looked at. The resident promised to ring back with the results. He didn’t, but 10 minutes later the registrar (senior to the resident, around the middle of the food-chain) did, apologised and let me know that my Friday haemoglobin level was around 60, and my platelet level about 16. He told me to come to the hospital for a blood transfusion, and to have my eye checked. We packed up and went to Melbourne. My mum was staying, and she was very glad that something was happening, as was Peter. By the time I got to the hospital and had my blood tested again, it turned out my haemoglobin level was 40, and my platelet level 3. Now, an adult male should have a haemoglobin level of somewhere between about 140 to 180. So, I was very anaemic. Hence the shortness of breath, as haemoglobin is the oxygen transporting molecule of the body. Likewise, platelets are generally somewhere between 150 to 400. At 3, I was at very high risk of having spontaneous bleeding – as indeed I did, into (it turned out), both of my eyes. The problem is that because my bone marrow is so suppressed by the chemotherapy, it just isn’t making new blood cells. The red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the haemoglobin molecule inside them, are being destroyed at a normal rate – probably higher, actually, given the high oxidative damage inflicted on them by the chemotherapy drugs, but not made. Same with the platelets.
Monday, then, was spent having two units of platelets and three units of blood. Tuesday (yesterday) was spent having another three units of blood, and a review of my eyes at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (which is, handily, quite close to Peter Mac).

So now… I’m probably still a bit anaemic, but feeling much better than I was!


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