Saturday, October 25, 2008
Almost Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Blood Counts
We got our daughters first blood tests results back since coming home after her chemo. There are four different specific Blood counts that they track, the Red Blood Cells (Hematocrit and Hemoglobin), the White Blood Cells (Lymphocytes, Neutrophils, Eosinophils, Basophils and Monocytes), the ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count) and the Platelets (clotting agent). Now the three that I most worry about are her Hematocrit (the amount of red blood cells in the blood, a lack of these can make her anemic or look pale, feel tired, dizzy, headache, racing heart or shortness of breath. Healthy Hematocrit levels are 32-42% if she gets down to 20% she will need a blood transfusion. Her hematocrit came back at 33.2% (great). Platelets are the cells in the body that make blood clots (she will have easy bruising, bleeding from the gums or nose, or tiny pink/purple freckle-like spots on her skin called petechia). Healthy platelet levels are 150,000 hers are at 94,000, so they are low, but you don't need a platelet transfusion until you hit 10,000 or lower (so she is still good). ANC (white blood cell) is the last that I worry most about. Her absolute neutrophil count shows her ability to fight infections. A healthy ANC is 3000-5000, her is at 0 that is nothing (very bad). She is extremely vulnerable to infections right now. We (her dad) gives her a Neupogen shot every night to help her body produce white blood cells. We have to be very careful to keep her in the cleanest environment possible right now, when we are around her we keep our hands very clean and don't allow anyone that it sick or has been exposed to sickness get around her until her levels go back up. We also need to be very careful with her temperature. If we notice her feeling warm at all we need to take her temperature. If her temperature is at 100.3 for longer than 1 hour or if her temperature gets to 101.3 for any amount of time we have to call the oncologist and they will have us head to the childrens hospital to be admitted and she will be given medicine and watched very closely so that she will be able to fight of the infection in her body. The oncologist told us that once a chemo patient goes home their blood counts will drop and continue dropping until they hit their low point (which will differ each time), then they will swoop back up again at which point she will be healthy enough to begin chemo again. Our little girl will continue having her blood drawn (through her broviac tube) every Monday and Thursday to track her progress. Now everyone can be experts concerning their blood counts!