Pancytopenia is the official diagnosis of why I ended up in the hospital for a week. The reason I developed it is because I was taking imuran for my colitis. Imuran depresses the bone marrow. My dose was doubled 2 months ago to help cope with a colitis flare that was brewing. I am not sure if it was completely the imuran that caused the problem or if the H1N1 flu I had exacerbated the situation. I guess we will never know.
Dealing with pancytopenia has not been a walk in the park. When I was admitted into the hospital I was in critical condition. The scariest thing was my neutrophils (a form of white cells) were at .2. The normal range is 2.0-7.0. Given that these white cells are among the first to respond to any kind of infection it is a miracle that I did not come down with anything. My hemoglobin was at 81. Normal hemoglobin is between 120-150. While in the hospital, my hemoglobin plummeted to 68. At that point I was given a pint of blood. The experience of getting a blood transfusion was rather surreal. It took about 4 hours to run in because they were not sure that my IV would hold. Watching blood that was once in someone else flowing into me was a bit bizarre. If you can give blood, I urge you too. You never know when someone you know or love will need a blood transfusion.
Dealing with the low hemoglobin is quite difficult. I find it really difficult to walk any distance (think to the bathroom) without feeling like my limbs are moving through concrete. I am sleeping a minimum of 12 hours. My pallor is grey. I have very little motivation – especially to eat. However, I need to have good nutrition so that I can continue to make all the blood cells. I find that doing too many tasks in a row where I am moving around is impossible. Luckily, I have been able to sit and work this week. I even worked in the hospital.
The big question is what is going to happen with my colitis. The answer is unknown at this time. I have a new GI who has started me on a new protocol and we shall see what happens. Hopefully this break from my immune system will allow my colon to heal. I have to admit that I am simultaneously cautiously optimistic and deathly afraid.
So for now, I am not supposed to go out except to the lab when I have to wear a mask. I can’t really drive until my hemoglobin is up. But being in isolation at home is way better than the hospital!