BK's Cancer Corner - Sponsored by the Original Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer
Several people have asked for a health update so here it is. I've got chemotherapy this week on Thursday. Happily, today I woke up feeling relatively decent. So I will choose to enjoy every minute of the next two days before getting punched in the face again on Thursday afternoon. Please join me in this celebration of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lately, we've been watching my blood counts pretty closely. Yesterday I went in for another blood draw. The nurse joked that every good vein in both of my arms had been used recently. I look like a drug addict. Last time I was in treatment, my blood counts stayed great the whole time. This time it hasn't been so easy. So to help keep you in the loop, here is my stab at explaining blood. Consider it a little course entitled "Blood Facts for Idiots". In my simplified, cartoonlike world, it all comes down to four things: red blood cells, white blood cells, plateletes and plasma.
Red blood cells deliver oxygen to tissue and remove carbon dioxide and other waste material. Inside red blood cells is a protein called hemoglobin which contains iron and is red in color. Sort of like a magnet, the hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs and delivers it to body tissue. It then collects the carbon dioxide and other gases from the tissue and carries it back to the lungs to be exhaled. Red blood cells live for about four months, then die. They are constantly being replenished by the bones, which in addition to providing a structural framework for the body, also provide the helpful service of producing blood. I've been so tired lately because my hemoglobin counts have been low. The oxygen/carbon dioxide shuttle has been running slowly so my body feels tired and heavy.
embed src="http://www.classicgaming.com/pac-man/Sounds/GAMEBEGINNING.WAV">White blood cells are the body's storm troopers. Whenever a germ or infection enters the body, the white blood cells race to the scene. They then act like pacman and gobble up the intruder or they release antibodies which destroy the villain. (Think of antibodies like Thing One and Thing Two in the Cat and the Hat story). They don't live very long, just a few days or sometimes a few weeks. Reading a blood report gets complicated for me at this point, because white blood cells are counted, then there are counts for different components of white blood cells such as neutrophils, lymphocyte, etc. Some of these components have been low for me lately, but not dangerously low.
Plateletes are responsible for clotting. The normal range is 120,000 - 470,000 per something. Mine dropped down to 39,000 last week which means I should avoid gaping flesh wounds, pounding physical punishment and annoying Meg Ryan movies. Thankfully over the weekend, I rebounded to 97,000 which, though low, means I won't bleed to death if I get a paper cut today.
Plasma is the liquid which carries the blood cells. Its like the river and the blood cells are like the boats. Or you might think of it like the commuter train for all the blood cells. I don't even see it show up on my blood report, but its a common term worth mentioning. So that's your lesson for today. Med school anyone?