Thursday, October 28, 2010

Weekly doctor update

I saw my local oncologist yesterday to have blood-work done and my numbers appear to be doing what they should.

For those that are interested:
Numbers in parentheses are the normal range.

WBC: 17.9 K/ul (4.5-10.8)

RBC: 4.30 M/ul (4.20-5.40)

Hemoglobin: 13.4 g/dL (12.0-16.0)

Platelets: 177 K/ul (150-350)

ANC: 14.8 k/ul (1.5-10.0)

ALK PHOS: 47 IU/L (32-92)

AST/SGOT: 29 IU/L (10-42)

ALT/SGPT: 71 IU/L (10-40)

LDH wasn't available when the report was run.

According to Dr. B., that obscene white blood cell count is mostly neutrophils due to steroids. My platelets have also plummeted as a result of steroids, so please avoid approaching me with sharp objects. My liver numbers are down slightly from last week, but not significantly so. I'm pleased overall.

The steroids are starting to manifest their presence in new ways. When I was on the same dose in 2008/2009 I developed severe knee pain. It would wake me at all hours and the simple act of moving my legs was torture. My transplant doctor attributed the problem to muscle weakness. She was right.

Steroids over a period of time rob you of muscle tone, especially in the legs. The only thing you can do is exercise and fight it. I've been doing 60-100 minutes a day, five days a week, on the treadmill in addition to the walking I do on campus. It's been three weeks and I'm starting to feel the loss of tone.

Three days ago, I had a small amount of trouble standing from a squatting position. I was able to do it without having to push off of the ground, but it was an ominous feeling. Two nights ago the knee pain started. It was confined to my right knee and was as hellish as I had remembered. The only thing I can do for relief is to ice it down, and so I did. Thanks to the discomfort, I only managed 3 hours of sleep.

I've also been getting cramps in my hands, feet and lower legs. My thumbs tend to lock in a very unnatural position and all I can do is stretch my hands against solid surfaces until the muscles relax. When it attacks my feet, I have to get up and walk around. It usually happens when I'm sleeping, so I can forget a solid night of sleep for the next few months.

These are all very minor things in the scope of everything. I expected this. I'm doing things to be proactive in the hopes of limiting the damage. I feel well. I've managed to only put on 2 pounds instead of the 20 plus that settled around my middle the last go around. Most importantly, I'm happy that I'm not letting this limit me.


Ronni Gordon said...

Just tried it. Thanks to steroids, I still can't get up from a squatting position without hands on the floor. But I can get up from a chair now with no hands, which is progress. So as this stupid stuff happens, just remember that it will pass!

Sorry you can't sleep. That's tough. Have you tried a little of my favorite drug, Ativan?

Ann said...

I was using Ativan, but it only puts me down for about 2 hours now before I start getting cramps, etc. My doctor prescribed ambien. I tried it one night and was able to sleep through for 7 hours, but I felt like hell for the rest of the day. I'd rather feel edgy from lack of sleep than try that again.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I'm a lurker and occasional commenter. Is it beyond the realm of possibility to add just a bit of resistance exercises to your 60-100 minutes? Cardio doesn't do much to retain muscle tone and strength, but even if you threw in some body-weight squats, knee pushups, even lifting some soup cans or small weights, you'd be telling your body to build muscle.

I have no idea about what the amount of steriods your on does to the ability to lift things. I just know that under normal conditions, if I do only cardio, I lose muscle tone, and the teeniest bit of resistance exercises can help me retain it (even without doing cardio, incidentally).

Best of luck!

Ann said...

Abby, you make a good point. I have some light weights and a balance ball that I really should use more. I've been doing squats, but I could do more and have been thinking of incorporating pilates into the routine. I have the treadmill set for variable inclines throughout my sessions so that I'm constantly challenged. The excess walking helps me to burn off some of the manic, steroid induced energy. A little like letting a hyper child wear themselves out. It makes for a much easier day. Thanks for following along! :)

Nancy said...

Love the Teddy video. Your a bust up. Sorry, that you have to be on roids. I know what it does and seriously, it can be called "evil" for halloween, but it does help with the gvhd which is why you are on it in the first place.

Props to you for fighting the effects. That's more than I did. I just let it do what it was gonna do and dealt with it later. In retrospect, you are smart for fighting it from the get go.

Take care... happy halloween.. n