Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So this is why I'm so tired!

One week down! It's been a tough one. Today Cindy had blood work done. Why is Cindy so tired? Well besides being "whacked up the side of the head" by Chemo, many of her blood work levels were low and some extremely low. Hematocrit or "HCT" is a blood test that measures the percentage of red blood cells found in whole blood. This test is used to determine levels of things like anemia. Cindy traditionally has a very high HCT level. This week that count dropped 7-8 points and while she is just below the "average" levels and there is no alarm, it is a significant drop for her. Red blood carries the oxygen in our blood. Without it we have little energy. The next levels to look at in blood work is the White Blood Count. White blood cells are our bodies defense system. Within the white blood cells are cells called neutrophil. They are the "soldiers" that attack infection within our body first. Sort of like the Marines. Now Chemotherapy is designed to kill the cancer cells but it's not smart enough to kill only bad cells, it kills good cells too. Usually it doesn't kill all the good cells at once though. In Cindy's case the Chemo is working so well at killing cells - which is good, that it has knocked nearly all the white blood cells and neutrophil's out of her system - which is bad. What does this mean? It means that she is extremely susceptible to infections. She must avoid crowds. She must avoid anyone who is ill, even a tiny cough or cold to us could be a really big deal to her! She needs to keep her skin clean and dry. Reed has anti-bacterial gels all over the house now. Hydration is a must. 64 oz of water or fluids a day, minimum. And any sign of fever is reason to call the Doctor or head to the hospital. Thank goodness no fevers have appeared, except for those "hot flashes" she constantly experiences. (Women are not wusses is all I can say!!!!). In addition to low HCT, WBC and Neutrophil her Platelates are also low. Platelates are essential for blood clotting. It is best to avoid bruising and the use of a soft bristled tooth brush is good. It is also best to avoid shaving, so won't it be convenient when she looses the hair on her legs! All these conditions are to be expected with Chemotherapy but in Cindy these levels are unusually low which means just a little extra precaution needs to be taken.

This week is her "off" week, meaning she has no chemo treatment until the next Thursday, July 9th. They will have to check to see if her white cell count is higher than 1.5 in order to administer the chemo. She has a ways to go to get up to that level but last week she was given a shot that helps the white cells grow. We will keep our fingers crossed.

A couch potato she is not! Lying around is not one of Cindy's past times nor is it one she wants. (I told her she needs to take lessons from me :). I'm pretty good at lying around eating bonbon's.) Nonetheless she finds herself with little energy, a dizzy head and sensitive tummy. And for those of you who don't know, the Gardner home is also in the middle of a major remodel. (That alone could drive one nuts) So unfortunately instead of being able to rest up in her normally clean, well organized and serene home, she must put up with chaos, dust, construction sounds and can't even sleep in her own bed. At least we know that when this is all done, Cindy will be gorgeous and so will her home!

Please keep your prayers said, emails and card sent and blog comments posted! They mean so much to her and with visitors limited this next little while they will mean even more. Reed, Cindy and family send their thanks and love to you all.

Posted by Libby


  1. Thanks for the update. Loved the comment about losing the hair on Cinny's legs :)
    We all should also be aware that while we may not be "sick" we do carry germs from the outside world. This might be the time when we write little love notes instead of giving hugs...phone calls and cards instead of person to person visits. Just a thought.
    Hang in there Cindy. Think of those little immunity "soldiers" marching through your bloodstream as the Seven Dwarves whistling as they work. Positive attitude, if you know what I mean.
    Love you!

  2. I don't even know what to say, I am so at a loss and wish so deeply that this could be taken from you. I guess the only one who knows what you are really going through or what is in your heart is our Savior. With his help and all of us at your side (figuratively speaking) you will make it through this. You are truly one of the strongest people I know. You will do this Cindy, I know. A day at a time and before you know it, you will be in Hawaii! I love you.

  3. You go girl! Fight those nasty little cancer thingies!!! You are such a pillar!! Your name is in the Mesa Temple and will be. I pray for you and my heart is with you. I know the Lord knows you and is watching over you. He loves you and counts you as His own.

    I love you too.

  4. Hi little sister! I know how it is to be constantly nauseated and loosing hair etc. I hope you will talk with your new chemo friends about what foods work for them and what foods don't. Usually if it smells ok, it will go down ok, but that doesn't hold true for everyone.

    Personally, I love not having to shave my legs, although my hair has started to grow again, so I am sure I can look forward to that again soon. Hang in there. LeGrand and I are praying for you. I know they will get your counts under control. This really does change your perspective on things. How it changes will be up to you, but my instincts tell me it will make you invincible! Love you, Susan

  5. Cindy: Well, from one person who hates being a couch potato to another, let me know if you would like me to bring down some simple little hand-work projects. Do you know how to do simple embroidery? If not, would you like to learn? We could do dishtowels, or quilt squares or whatever you want. Even though I am very healthy right now, I would be glad for Gary to bring me home a few masks from the hospital and I could wear them when I come. If you wanted to do some quilt squares I would be happy to make them into a quilt for you. By the way, speaking of quilts, yours is at the quilter now and I am just waiting for her to complete it and I will get the binding on and bring it down. Love and hugs- Mary p.s. Please give Reed a squeeze for me, I can see that this is very tough on him and he needs our love too.

  6. Cindy, my mom just passed along an update on you to our family, so I wanted to jump on the blog and let you know we are praying for you and your family. We hope that your levels get taken care of before next Thursday, we will specifically pray for that. And tell you family hello as well, I'm sure it's not fun to watch their mom & wife be sick! You have always been someone I've looked up to, and you continue to amaze me through this journey as well. Our prayers and love are with you. Love, Annie Nelson Dent

  7. Cindy, You are being such a trooper! I'll see you after the 4th. Have fun with Jason.
    Love, Karen

  8. Just adding a bit of love from Oakley, Utah. We are thinking of you daily. We have you in our 24 hour a day prayers. We are amazed at the strength you exhibit even though you don't realize it. We hope you will endure each day as it comes. Don't look too far ahead. Know people love you and enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones. It sounds like Jason may be coming. Awesome. I love that kid. I love all your children. Tell them we love them and Reed too!

  9. Cindy we love you so much and we're so grateful you're in good hands (both at home and in the hospital). Keep up the strong work and know we're thinking of you. It really is good you're responding like you are (medically, at least), even though it makes you feel crappy. Hugs and wishes for rising white counts and hgb...! :)