Saturday, September 19, 2015

Numbers go in the right direction, skin softens up

A few days ago, Melissa emailed me saying she had asked Diane at ECP to check on the kidney function that was elevated last week.

That was a little disquieting since I thought I was done with all that, but then I realized it was most likely due to dehydration. Taken to the extreme, dehydration can even cause kidney failure. I wrote her and asked if that was the reason; she said yes and apologized for not having mentioned that effect of dehydration.

In any case, I worked hard during the week to ameliorate the problem. Also it wasn't as humid so I probably did not lose that much in sweat. Just as George congratulates us on having a "mature shot" in tennis, I gave myself a little recognition for having a mature reaction to the email about my kidney function, in other words, I didn't jump to the conclusion that something dire was wrong.

I never got those results, although I did find out that my hematocrit was back down to around where it should be – 31 – compared to the high of 35, which, although usually normal, suggested dehydration in me because I have been lower due to the ECP.

In a follow-up email, Melissa told me the good news that my ferritin is down to 877. That is very big news because I have been working hard on that by making myself take Exjade most mornings to reduce the level, which I think was as high as 6,000 after all those blood transfusions. (Normal is 12-300 nanograms per milliliter.) I wish I could share that with Patricia.

I drove myself in on Thursday because I had a dermatology appointment at 1 p.m. at another location before my 3 p.m. ECP at Dana-Farber, and although on paper it might have worked out to take the rides, I could see a disaster waiting to happen if I went that route. Dr. Alyea had predicted that my skin would have sprouted nasty things due to my sun exposure over the summer, but in fact Dr. Lin only saw a few things to which she gave a light zap.

She said she could see that the ECP is helping my skin; pressing on my abdomen, she explained to a resident that I had previously had a hardening of the area – scleroderma – and now it is getting softer.

She did, however, tell me to apply chemotherapy cream to a flaky spot on my upper lip. I had a Mohs procedure to remove a squamous cell cancer there, and while it should be gone, the flakiness suggests that perhaps some is left. Hopefully the cream will take care of it so I don't have to get that surgery again.

Then it was on to ECP, where the needle went in fine, as compared to last week, when dehydration had caused my vein to flatten out, thereby requiring two unpleasant sticks.

My nurse on Thursday, Esther, is a pillow fluffer par excellence. She is the best one at getting me as comfortable as can be for the three hours that I am immobilized with my arm outstretched.

When I have the time, as I did on Thursday, I like to go onto the other side and thank the platelet donors and tell them the story of how an anonymous donor saved my life when I was at death's door.

Everyone seemed pleased, except for the nurse who, upon seeing my Metrocard bag, asked if I was a Yankee fan and was disappointed when said no.

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