I apologize if you are tired of reading about my CMV. I’m getting a little tired of it myself.
Went back to the clinic today to recheck the CMV; the results will be back in a few days. As expected, my counts went down again. They were down so far that, despite being prepared, I was a little shaken up.
My white count was down to 0.7 (normal is 3.8 to 9.2). Not too long ago, I was so proud when I went into the 3’s for the first time in ages. “I’m almost neutropenic!” I said to Dr. Alyea. He explained that low white counts post-chemotherapy – when I was neutropenic in the hospital – are different from when you’re this far out. People walk around with counts like mine and do OK. He did say to restart taking Neupogen shots, or GCSF, to raise my white blood count. I happen to have two boxes in the fridge, left over from the days when my counts crashed six months after my first allo.
My platelets were also down (74), hematocrit was down to 27.3 and hemoglobin was down to 9.6. Actually, I feel fine, and they said I looked fine.
Dr. Alyea said there were two good reasons for the drop: the CMV and the Valcyte used to treat it. Still, he said, he needed to be vigilant, because back in April when my counts took a big dip, graft failure followed. He said not to panic. My latest chimerism, from Oct. 2, was still 90 percent donor – a good place to be.
The plan is to continue the Valcyte and see where the CMV level comes in. If it is still the same, I could switch to one of two antivirals that need to be administered intravenously but which do not lower counts.
A bit of post-traumatic stress kicked in. Low counts bring to mind bad outcomes. My mind immediately went off in this direction: What if I am cured of the leukemia and something else does me in? I know this is a common thought pattern because I’ve seen it on other blogs. I’ve also followed these blogs long enough to see that the complication is taken care of in most cases. I also can think back to a situation where my low counts did not signal anything bad; I was on Valcyte once before for CMV. My counts went down, the CMV went away, I went off the Valcyte and my counts bounced back.
So…I didn’t panic, but I did feel deflated. Big sigh.
When I got home, I quickly put on sweatpants and walked the dog. It was late in the day by then, but still balmy. I bumped into Carol, a good friend from work. We go back 30 years and have been through a lot together. Carol was walking with her niece. They got a caffeinated earful. Carol offered her support and a big hug.
On the way home I passed the fire station and waved to the fire chief, Bill, who was standing in the open bay. He waved back.
A car pulled up alongside me. It was a woman who wanted to know where I had gotten my dog. She said she has a chocolate lab who looks just like mine – small and sleek. She thought they might be from the same litter, but they aren’t. We agreed to introduce them if we bump into each other at the lake.
Life was already gently pulling me along. I came home and gave myself the shot. I watched “Hardball” with Chris Matthews and then, at 8, switched to Comedy Central for last night’s installation of “The Daily Show.” I laughed until my eyes filled with tears.