Friday, December 23, 2011

A Leukopenic Christmas

Chemo cycle three, day 54
 by sherry

On Wednesday, Terence and I spent the day downtown Seattle to get his weekly blood draw and dressing changed on his PICC line.  His blood tests came back showing severely low counts, needing a blood transfusion.  Because of the chemotherapy, his body is having difficulty producing enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues and organs.

A blood transfusion for anemia gave Terence a rapid infusion of needed red blood cells, allowing him  to feel better much more quickly than with iron supplements, etc.

During the blood transfusion, a small needle was used to insert in his PICC line. Through this line,  he received healthy blood (the procedure usually takes 1 to 5 hours, depending on how much blood you need) Terence's infusion took about 5 hours, it was done on an outpatient basis.

Saved by the blood.
Terence's friend Sam Chance came by and sat with him during the transfusion, I took a short nap and ran down to the cafeteria and grabbed a chicken salad sandwich.  The five hours past pretty quickly and we headed home. Terence slept all the way home and the next day. By today (3 days later), he feels much better.

He was given doctors orders to stay completely away from crowds (no Christmas shopping, movie theatres, etc) because his white blood cell count (WBC) was barley at a 2 (the average WBC is 4-10).

Leukopenia occurs when the WBC falls below 4,000.  Making him prone to viral infections and overwhelming bacterial infections, (patients with severe leukopenia should be protected from anything that interrupts skin integrity, placing them at risk for an infection that they do not have enough white blood cells to fight).

Christmas eve and morning celebrations may be somewhat limited- the doc says he can be around the grand kids if every one sanitizes and "masks up".  Oh, well, that's how one spends Christmas with Leukopenia- masked.

On the last chemo video I shared that Terence was being tested for a UTI because of pain and difficulty urinating (again)- well, the test came back negative, so the problem is mostly likely due to cancer progression.  He has scans due January 3oth, and a minimum of one more cycle of chemo (if his blood tests come back next week revealing the same problems, chemo will be delayed until he is strong again).

Ps 103:1-5
"Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all our iniquities; who heals all our diseases; Who redeems our life from destruction; who crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies our mouth with good things; so that our youth is renewed like the eagle's" 

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family! 

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