Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bone Pain

Before I get into my topic, I want you to scroll down the blog to the Spoon Theory blog and read the comments by PSPam. Wow! Finally, someone who really understands how Hep C effects your life!

Ok, to my subject for today. Many people on chemotherapy struggle with maintaining blood counts, as chemo destroys all cells - good & bad. Often, pretty much every element of a complete blood count is low - a condition called "pancytopenia." I experienced pancytopenia during the last 3 months of treatment in 2008 and my biggest challenge was my neutrophil count. Neutrophils comprise the largest part of our white blood count which is responsible for our immune system. My neutrophil count was so bad that my doctor had to give me a drug (injection) called Neupogen, which is also needed by many cancer patients. Neupogen stimulates the bone marrow to make more blood cells as most blood cells are formed in the marrow, particularly in the large bones such as the leg bones and hip bones. Many who receive this drug experience a great deal of bone pain. I have a friend who was on chemo for breast cancer and she remembers Neupogen as having the worst side effects than any other chemo drug she took. But it doesn't affect everyone the same way and I had seven injections - a little bone pain, but I felt better. Having a dangerously low neutrophil count makes a person feel very very sick and I was thankful for feeling a bit better.

Another blood component made in bone marrow are platelets (also called thrombocytes). Platelets are one of the factors in blood clotting. A normal platelet count is 200,000 - 400,000. Mine has been running around 90,000 which is typical of a person with my stage of liver disease. Therefore, my body has been trying like crazy to make more platelets and I've experienced a great deal of bone pain lately - much more than when I took Neupogen. My pain is located exclusively in my legs and it's a very difficult pain to describe. It's a deep, achy tired feeling; almost as if your bones were badly bruised.

Honestly, this dying slowly and suffering is for the birds. I have very little hope that anything will change in the next 5 years; I've been dealing with this for 5 years already.
Be grateful, be very very grateful for your health - if you have it.