Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Beautiful Number

When former Australian Federal Labor Treasurer, Paul Keating was what he described as “the Placido Domingo of Australian politics”, he would often speak lyrically of “beautiful numbers”. Yesterday, I had a beautiful number of my own.

I’d had an absolutely crap 10 days, with each successive day seeming worse. I’d developed a heavy cold the day after taking part in the Walk Against Warming, and was already aware from my previous visit with my haematologist that my thrombocytes were disappearing again. On December 11 they had dropped to 119,000, and the professor warned that if they kept dropping, he would have to put me back into hospital to administer more IV immunoglobulin, and probably do a bone marrow test to see what was going on.

So by yesterday, December 23, I was feeling so wretched – absolutely no energy most days and no brain power either – that I was convinced they must have dropped to 60,000 or less. I even put myself under “house arrest” for the last 3 days, (apart from friends taking me downstairs to the coffee shop in my apartment building), terrified that if I went out on the street during the Christmas shopping frenzy I’d get knocked over and start bleeding internally.

Not only had I convinced myself, but also my family and close friends, all of whom were very worried for me.

When I saw the professor after my blood test, and he asked how I was feeling, I replied, gloomily, “I’ve felt better.”

“No.” he replied, “You’ve felt a lot worse. Your platelets are up to 193,000. You’re almost back to normal.”

So I poured out my sad story as he sat there, grinning broadly. He had the decency to acknowledge that I had indeed suffered, and explained that most of the misery would have been from the cold, exacerbated by the still-annoying steroid side-effects – most especially the lack of sleep.

The Good Things About Taking Steroids

So, in acknowledgement of the very real benefits I’ve received from my daily prednisolone this past couple of weeks, I’ve decided to list the positives:

  • My thrombocyte count is almost back to normal
  • I don’t have to spend Christmas in hospital, eating incredibly bland food & having daily blood tests and IV transfusions
  • I'm up so early, I can watch the daily miracle of the dawn from my balcony, really conscious of the earth rolling from east to west as the sun rises over the tall gum trees behind the university
  • Being up so early, I have time to do some stretches & gentle exercises before breakfast
  • My eczema is temporarily suppressed - I can eat foods from the nightshade group- tomatoes, capsicums and chillis, that would normally bring me out in a rash within half an hour.
    At last my homegrown basil can combine as it should with fresh tomatoes for the perfect vitamin-rich summer salad!

A Christmas Break

Since my haematologist thinks I’m safe until I see him again mid-January, (so long as I’m sensible), and has given me permission to travel, I’m able to accept my friends’ invitation to spend a few days with them and their cats over Christmas in the beautiful Blue Mountains town of Katoomba.

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