Blood Tests this Morning

November 17, 2008 Comments Off on Blood Tests this Morning

This morning I went for bloods and was reminded of all the times I went for bloods when I was sick and the results were life or death (although at the time I sort of blocked that out of my mind). For someone with leukemia the blood test results take on an almost cosmic, overwhelming importance. They become your whole world and are given daily in the hospital—even written on a poster on the wall in your room. They indicate how the chemotherapy and then the recovery are going. First, there is the CBC which gives your overall numbers: WBC (white blood count) needs to be up but not too far, RBC (red blood count) helps one not feel exhausted and platelets also have to be up high enough to keep one from just bleeding to death inside.

After the bone marrow transplant the CBC numbers indicate whether or not its working. i.e. whether the transplant engrafts. Later, the emphasis switched to ALP and ALT (liver function tests indicative of GVHD which is a complex process where you want some but not too much). I had moderate–severe GVHD which is more than you want. The numbers had to be monitored weekly and my medication adjusted accordingly. Fortunately my GVHD was responsive to medication and only flared up when I did good things like tai chi or art workshops (like I said, it was complicated).

Today’s bloods were just part of a routine checkup but the reminders of what bloods used to be like for me brought tears to my eyes.

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