Pancytopenia

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!

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Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm  Comments (3)  

Dispatches from the Swamp

I woke up around 3 am and realized that I felt ‘different.’ I cautiously mused that perhaps I felt ‘better.’ But I did not want to jinx it so I stuck with different. I can now say that after 17 days in H1N1 hell I am on the mend. My head is no longer swimming and my limbs no longer feel like they are moving through cement.

I love the day after you have been really sick when you suddenly feel better. Everything is brighter, you have more patience, everything tastes better and you are just happy to be alive. The contrast is so striking between the illness day before and the recovery today. I am still taking it easy and I am still eating soup but I am hoping to graduate on to something different soon!

Deb is still down H1N1. I feel so bad her. This flu has been exceptionally difficult because she is mourning Mackenzie who we lost a couple of weeks ago. Whenever she was sick or had a migraine, Kenzie would spend the day in bed with her. Deb is really missing this comfort. When I went down this morning I left her with Gemma and Zoe cuddling with her. Hopefully she will get some comfort from their presence. L still seems to be immune to the virus and is holding down the fort.

All of the dogs are doing well. Kiefer is sleeping in our room right now because A is away dog-sitting and he keeps leaving big chunks of his hair all over the floor. Tucker goes to the vet on Saturday and hopefully we can get one of his meds increased because he continues to have anxiety issues.

We have really noticed a void in the house since Mackenzie has been gone. The little girls seem to be ‘scrapping’ a little more often than they did before. I suspect it is likely that they think there is a power vacuum however they would be wrong – none of them will be alpha in our house as it is the humans who occupy that position. Probably the fact that 3 of us have been down with the flu means that we have not been as ‘alpha’ as we would normally. I think that will change soon as we recover.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from the Swamp

In celebration of NaBloPoMo I have decided to start a new series on the blog: Dispatches from the Swamp.* This new series will focus on the antics of the residents (human, canine, feline, guinea porcine and hedgehog) of Chez Shihtzustaff. It will also serve as a reminder that we live in a swamp – so here goes.

All H1N1 all the time!**

The main news from the swamp is that we are sick (except for L, and more on that later), very, very, very sick most likely with H1N1. Now this in not a flu to trifle with. It can kill you and if it doesn’t kill you, you will wish that it had. It is hands down the worst flu I have ever had. I pretty much lost 2 weeks of my life to the pandemic virus and its long list of symptoms:

Fever – I had a moderatley high fever at 100.6. It is considerably worse when you count in the fact that I tend to run 2 degrees below normal (thanks to the sloth like metabolism I seem to have. I only had the fever for one day. That was enough.

Joint Pain – basically moving was not possible. I was in agony for about 2 days. They don’t make ibuprofen in big enough doses to take on this level of joint pain. I am used to joint pain as it is one of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. I am used to having it in a couple of joints but not every single one. Crap, even my hair follicles hurt.

Sweating – Anyone who knows me knows that I do not sweat. I hate sweating and I take it as a personal insult when it happens. I had been getting better about sweating when I was on the treadmill (oh to be strong enough to get back on!). I have never sweat like I did with this virus. This was one of the longest lasting symptoms. Then there was being cold and sweating and being even colder. Fun times I tell you.

Stomach issues – I have not been hungry in weeks (except for the small hunger pang I felt yesterday). Every time I would try to eat, I would take 3 bites, get overheated and start to sweat. Don’t ask me why but it happened often enough for me to string it all together. After 3 bites my stomach would rebel and tell me in no uncertain terms what I could do with that food.

Dizziness – I have been dizzy for days. In fact I don’t remember most of week 1 due to dizziness, fever and sweating. The dizziness has been coming later and later each day. I am hopeful I will not be dizzy today.

Fatigue – I suffer with chronic fatigue because of my ulcerative colitis. Generally this means I need 9-10 hours of sleep every night. Since I got H1N1 I have been sleeping in excess of 14 hours per night, when possible. I never sleep like this! I would normally have a headache if I stayed in bed that long. I had to settle for 12 hours last night because I could not figure out how to get in the 14 I wanted and still make it to work before it was time to come home.

On Friday, A came down with the flu. I felt so bad for her because I knew how horrific she felt. Then on Sunday night, D started to show symptoms. She spent most of Monday in bed wishing she were dead (see above). The only one who has not been felled by this virus on steroids is L and we think that is because she was born in 1956, when, apparently there was an outbreak of H1N1 and she may have some immunity. I hope she is immune because if she goes down I don’t know how we will make it!

*All of my other series have gone so well….not

**I stole this line from one of my FB friends’ status line

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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H1N1

The Herd

The Herd

I spent the whole week at home, sick with what is most likely H1N1. The virus sucks, seriously sucks. I have been so fatigued that staying awake at times has been a real struggle. I have no appetite so having to eat in order to take medication has been a challenge facilitated by much generic gravol. I have had the fever (100.6 – doesn’t seem that high but when you consider that I usually run 1-2 degrees below normal it was bad), the sore throat, a little coughing and the headache. Then there is the sleep. I have slept the better part of the clock for the last 4 days. Twelve to fourteen hours at night and still waking up tired. The virus did not make it into my lungs and this morning when I woke up I had a glimpse of feeling better. I think Tamiflu helped but I cannot be sure.

So I have had a long time to ruminate about H1N1. I have other serious medical conditions like ulcerative colitis and asthma. My asthma is controlled, my colitis not so much. For all intents and purposes I seem to have survived this bout with the flu and I didn’t even get dehydrated or need a ventilator as the scare-mongers seem to think some of us will. I know people have died as a result of getting this virus but that happens every year with the seasonal flu.

This week has also seen the introduction of the H1N1 vaccine. Talk about confusion! Do you get adjuvanted vaccine or not? What should pregnant women have? Oh wait, they haven’t tested the vaccine on pregnant women. They haven’t even run clinical trials of the vaccine approved for use in Canada, by Health Canada, on Canadians! In a normal year, the seasonal flu vaccine would be tested on Canadians before approval goes out. The Canadian government has purchased millions upon millions of doses of vaccine to be put in the arms of every Canadian who wants it. Except no one bothered to check – only 1/3 of Canadians say they are going to get the vaccine according to a Maclean’s article this week.

Entitled “Swine Flu Fiasco,” Macleans tries to make sense of the virus, the risks and the vaccine. They try to make us all understand that for a virus to be called a ‘pandemic virus’ it does not have to be more lethal than regular flu virus. All of this is good except for the ending which you would have thought was written by Health Canada. They go on to explain why it is necessary for at least 70% of the population to get the vaccine – apparently it creates something called ‘herd immunity.’ At least they were finally being truthful. Our government bureaucrats sees us sheep, who can be herded together to take this concoction that we are not even sure we need. As I was reading this article I was reveling in the fact that I would not have to have the vaccine as I likely have had the flu already. Apparently I was wrong. They are recommending that people who have already had the flu get vaccinated too! Seriously? On what planet does this make sense? We are talking about the H1N1 virus, which has not mutated as of yet, vaccine. Why would anyone want to introduce more of it into their bodies along with all the other chemicals and adjuvants etc?

I think the truth is more along the lines that the government (and all Western countries and the WHO) have over-reacted to this virus. They have been waiting for a pandemic and when H1N1 appeared they all could not have been happier because now they can try out all their plans, manufacture a bunch of vaccine and hope that the little sheep will all take it. I think they are going to find that they are wrong this time. I only know one person who is going to get this vaccine and for him it makes sense. Clearly they are going to have to study ‘herd immunity’ somewhere else as normally complacent Canadians do not seem to be willing to be sheep and roll up our sleeves this year.

Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 2:29 pm  Comments (5)  
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