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