Day +3506: How do you slow your blood…

“The expression on your face that told me
Maybe you might have some advice to give…”

Stats are a lot like statistics. If that leaves you a little puzzled, that’s ok; this blog entry is by Michael. There, the disclaimer out of the way.

After the bone marrow transplant (BMT), Karen’s blood counts never really did level out to what would be technically normal for the statistically average person. But as you might remember from almost ten years back, having counts for reds, whites and platelets at all is a bit miraculous (insert George Carlin with a Buddy Christ here). The counts, although a bit A. B. Normal, settled into a comfortably predictable pattern. Periodic blood work would always receive a gold star by the doctors or techs delivered with that “A Okay” smile. Any indicator of this or that being marked H or L (high or low), was professionally examined and declared ok for you too! All right the platelets are bit tiny and over-plentiful, too. Yes, a bit of generalization, since nobody is interested in the …cytes or …phils….; but I digress.

We often talked that once life runs over you with a bus with cancer in the driver’s seat, the illusion of immortality is crushed. Karen and others continue on, but as a survivor, the walk down the sunny road of life is forever draped in the shadows of uncertainty. So little things like periodic blood counts do more that indicate a state of current health. They provide a little emotional boost and reassurance to face the rest of the world and those trivial nuisances that a BMT presents along with the gift of life.

So Karen, yes you know her, the computer scientist and mathematician. Well she studies her blood work in detail – all patients should; but that math gene also causes her to track trends and here is where a bit of anxiety popped up. About six months ago the counts started trending downward still within the “ok” range. A consult with the Transplant doctor went as predictable – you’re ok! No worries! Don’t misunderstand, we have great faith in his technical expertise; but farting rainbows and roses seem be a “bedside manner” flaw in his patient interactions. The counts are mostly normal, but have been dropping unexpectly? What does that mean? Hey, you’re ok!

“…Limbo lower now..
…Limbo lower now…
…How low can you go?…”

It’s the human thing; uncertainty results in the mind latching onto the worst possible scenario – relapse or for a twist, Lymphoma. Ok, that was me.

Karen, on the other hand, called her hematologist and her routine appointment was moved from August to today. Karen spent an hour with her hematologist. Simply, he is a straight shooter. We trust him implicitly, but Karen still makes him explain the whats and whys of his diagnosis. Blood work check. Cells scanned under the microscope. Flow cytometry panel pending …I hate waiting.

“…. How do we sleep
While our beds are burning…”

“…How can we dance
…When our earth is turning…
…How do we sleep…
…While our beds are burning..”

How to eat a chocolate covered cockroach, oops wrong chapter.

So, why not cancer? Because if it was a relapse your counts would have tanked. What is causing the downward trend? Could be a myriad of things. Ok, so going to do monthly bloodwork for awhile again and see if this is just a switchback in the road.

If you find this a little less than reassuring remember it’s Tuesday.

Karen perseveres. She is ok.

Sometimes this is as good as it gets.

p.s. As usual, three songs for you to name.


  1. Kathleen Scott

    Hi Karen,
    Sorry this fly in the ointment has occurred. Praying all will work out. We literally live from phlebotomy to phlebotomy. We know more about our blood counts than we ever wanted to know. It takes a lot of fortitude not to panic. I’ve experienced a similar snafu lately. Chimerism count going in the wrong direction. Take care. All my best to you.

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