Time To Get Serious – Aplastic Anemia Rear’s It’s Head


I’ve Been Crossmatched!

If you’ve ever followed this blog, or were subscribed to it, you’ll notice with this post that the name of the blog has changed to Livin’ Like A Boss.  This change isn’t drastic, nor does it reflect the fact that I’ve grown into a narcissistic, egotistical jerk, but is more of a mindset to allow me to be positive about some of the challenges that I’ve faced this year.

I have aplastic anemia, a diagnosis that I’ve had for 24 years, and upon my upcoming 40th birthday, this condition has fully reared it’s ugly head and has shown that I’m not invulnerable.

I hope to restart this blog, as I seem to have a lot of free time on my hands since I haven’t been feeling so hot this summer.  I haven’t been to work since July, and now that the summer is drawing to a close, I feel that I need to keep occupied, and writing has always been a joy of mine.  I have contributed as a writer to BlackBerry Empire (www.blackberryempire.com), but my duties have been lax lately due to not feeling that great.  I will continue writing for BlackBerry Empire, as it is an awesome blog on all things BlackBerry, and the owners and chief editors, Michael Heredia and Kris Alvarez are great guys. I look so forward to assisting them on keeping this great site current and active with promoting, providing news, and promoting the BlackBerry Community.

The best description I have found for aplastic anemia, is posted on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institues Website:

What Is Aplastic Anemia?

Aplastic anemia (a-PLAS-tik uh-NEE-me-uh) is a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells. Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue inside the bones. It makes stem cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets (PLATE-lets).
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of your body. They also carry carbon dioxide (a waste product) to your lungs to be exhaled. White blood cells help your body fight infections. Platelets are blood cell fragments that stick together to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.

It’s normal for blood cells to die. The lifespan of red blood cells is about 120 days. White blood cells live less than a day. Platelets live about 6 days. As a result, your bone marrow must constantly make new blood cells.

If your bone marrow can’t make enough new blood cells, many health problems can occur. These problems include irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections, and bleeding. Severe aplastic anemia can even cause death.

Overview

Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia. The term “anemia” usually refers to a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. Anemia also can occur if your red blood cells don’t contain enough hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This iron-rich protein helps carry oxygen to your body.

In people who have aplastic anemia, the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This is because the bone marrow’s stem cells are damaged. (Aplastic anemia also is called bone marrow failure.)

Many diseases, conditions, and factors can damage the stem cells. These conditions can be acquired or inherited. “Acquired” means you aren’t born with the condition, but you develop it. “Inherited” means your parents passed the gene for the condition on to you.

In many people who have aplastic anemia, the cause is unknown.

Outlook

Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious disorder. It can develop suddenly or slowly. The disorder tends to get worse over time, unless its cause is found and treated. Treatments for aplastic anemia include blood transfusionsblood and marrow stem cell transplants, and medicines.

With prompt and proper care, many people who have aplastic anemia can be successfully treated. Blood and marrow stem cell transplants may offer a cure for some people who have aplastic anemia.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been feeling pretty crappy.

I have known I’ve had aplastic anemia since I was 16 years old, and the lead up to this diagnosis is best saved for another post, as I want to focus on what has occurred since October of last year.  I took two months off work, due to my hemoglobin count dropping to serious levels.  I came back to work prior to Christmas, as I believe I am superhuman, but gradually started feeling not so great once again.

Jump to July.

I attended a friends wedding out of town, and didn’t feel so great after a couple of days.  On the trip home with my wife, I was feeling VERY awful.  Tired, listless, very grumpy and very thirsty, I attributed this to just having a good time at the wedding, a couple of late nights, and a little to much booze.  The next day, I started running a small fever, which, within’ two days had spiked to the point where all I wanted to do was just lie on the floor in my living room because it was cool.  I had gotten a blood test and was called in by my family doctor the next day.

Isolation and the Blood is Coming

My hemoglobin was at 62 (normal person is 150), my platelet level was at 9 (normal person 25) and my neutrophil count (which fight infection) were in overactive mode.  The doctor told me to head to emergency right away, and upon reaching the emergency at the local hospital, my fever was at 39.9 celsius (normal person  37.3 °C).  I was immediately taken out of the emergency room, and taken to isolation, where blood was drawn and I was cross matched for immediate blood transfusions.

Cocktail anyone?

Long story short, 3 days later, and 5 units of blood later including antibiotics and magnesium and saline pumped into my body, it was determined I was out of the woods. There was a strange infection in my chest, to which I got chest xrays, and strange things were seen, to which to this day there is no explanation, other than it showed a weird gross thing of some sort.

For the next 14 days, I was monitored and had antibiotics and saline pumped out of my body.  The highlights of my visit was that I had a great view of the lake from my hospital room, and my friends came and visited me, as well as broke me free for a couple of hours, which meant the world to me.  (I LOVE SLURPEE’S!!!!) My mother came and stayed, and my wife was a trooper throughout this whole ordeal.  Without her love and support, I wouldn’t of been as strong as I was.

I was not in isolation for the whole time I was there, after day three I was moved to a shared room, with a woman that was battling (and sadly losing) to lung cancer.  She was an amazing and very kind woman, and I wish her the best.

Today I am out of the hospital, but have not returned to work, but have enjoyed the summer and have View from the Hospitalworked on my tan as my hematologist and family doctor work out what the next plan of attack is.  My blood counts got leveled out and raised a bit while I was in the hospital, but did drop over the past couple of days, but have leveled out (81 for hemoglobin and 14 for platelets) . I’m very tired, short of breathe, but this Friday I get to go in for two more units of blood, to boost me up so I don’t walk around like a zombie.

There is discussion about performing the ATGAM treatment for the second time (first time I had it was in 2005) which basically means killing my immune system, and jumpstarting my body to get that pesky bone marrow working properly.

I will continue to post, and share ideas, but the shape of this blog will change a bit.  I love technology, and really enjoying sharing and being exposed to new ideas, so please follow my Twitter at @Geof_Smith, as well as my Tumblr at http://www.tumblr.com/blog/morbium

I’ll be posting pictures, random oozing thoughts, as well as the possible occasional video.  I will also be sharing my story of recovery, as there is no way in hell this condition is going to stop me.

Fuck that .. Like A Boss.

About Geof Smith

A technology lover that has oozing thoughts. Blogger for Living Like A Boss (http://www.llaboss.com) and BlackBerry Empire (http://www.blackberryempire.com) View all posts by Geof Smith

3 responses to “Time To Get Serious – Aplastic Anemia Rear’s It’s Head

  • The Word Has Come Down – Treatment Ahoy « Living Like A Boss

    […] Time To Get Serious – Aplastic Anemia Rear’s It’s Head (morbium.wordpress.com) […]

  • D

    Did they ever figure out what caused you to come out of remission? Do you have any theories? Good luck on the treatment.

    • Geof Smith

      Hey D,

      No, the problem with Aplastic Anemia is that the true cause is unknown, but there are some theories. It may be due to some exposure to toxins at some point, or that a combination of medications at one point may have something to do with it. I grew up in a pulp mill town, so the theory is that may of caused it.

      For me coming out of remission, there is no indication why. The doctors have not given a clear indication, but I am going to pursue that once I have a chance. I’ll do some research, and question my hematologist about that.

      Geof.

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