Mathew is now in week 3 of Chemo Round/Cycle 1. His blood counts fell throughout the second week so he isn’t feeling as good as the first week. While his hemoglobin is still above a transfusion level, his platelets went from 224 all the way down to 15. His white blood cell counts dropped to levels below 1 so visitations and travel immediately stopped.
Platelets are your blood’s clotting factor. The transfusion level is 20 and if they drop to 13 or below your organs can spontaneously start to bleed. Mathew’s blood work last Thursday showed a platelet count of 25 so his Oncologist requested he come in to the hospital the next day for a repeat test. John and Mathew had to hang around for the results and once they came back at a count of 15 a transfusion was ordered immediately. He gets one bag of platelets that takes about 20 minutes to transfuse. Platelets are an icky yellow sludgy colour. This is not the red hemoglobin (whole blood) which is what is donated when we give blood. The blood product was separated and the platelet portion removed.
The platelet count from Monday’s test was 19 but Dr. Burnell decided to hold off on a transfusion. I take this to mean she believes his counts are going to go up. We were advised to bring him to the hospital if he gets a nosebleed that doesn’t stop….. Otherwise his next test is on Friday.
Mathew is still receiving daily neupogen injections and will until his Neutrophils are above the count of 1. Each injection costs $400 because he needs 2 vials of neupogen. Thankfully this expense is fully covered but for many people it is not.
We draw the solution up into a needle we assemble. After drawing up the solution from the 2 vials we replace the needle tip to ensure it is sharp for the injection itself. Dull needles HURT! Not paying attention when assembling the parts and drawing the solution up HURTS! I don’t stick myself as often as I did in the beginning but I tend to jab my knuckle when I do… that also means a new needle tip before injecting Mathew.
The needle is given in an alternating arm each evening and is injected below the skin (subcutaneously). John and I learned how to do all of this when Mathew’s first treatment started 2 years ago. Unless his platelets are so low the skin site bruises there is nothing to show where the needle was injected. We alternate arms to give side a day’s rest.
Two years ago Mathew needed two shots a day; the neupogen in his arms AND the blood anticoagulant shot in his belly. The injection to prevent blood clots came in self-contained needles all ready to go with a self-activated needle plunger. It is a relief to only have to give one daily shot this time.
The sleep cycle still isn’t happening well. I see a very slow change to better hours but we still catch naps whenever we can. Sometimes I’m a walking zombie going through the motions! When it all catches up to me and I go from Mom to cranky Creature then I call John to take over while I nap. That was the case last Friday when Mathew needed to go for the second blood test and subsequent transfusion.