January Check-up

Today I was due for my one month check-up.  I showed up, armed with my not-so-short list of questions for my doctor that I had accumulated over the last month.

Can I just say that my Hematologist is wonderful?  He is very patient with questions, jokes around with his patients but also knows when to be serious, is very knowledgeable and open-minded, and just very easy to talk to.

There were a few things to address this time:  whether my platelet count was still rising, the results of some other blood work that was done to see if there were other causes for some symptoms I am having, and whether to start me on an oral chemotherapy.

My platelet count from the December 16th blood draw was 837,000.  Down some, but still within what my numbers have been in the past.  I also received a call with the results of my CBC from today while I was typing this, and they, as of today, are at 855,000.  So mid 800K is where I seem to hover.

He had also drawn blood to check my folic acid level, B12 level and Iron level, to make sure that there wasn’t another reason for the numbness and burning in my hands and feet.  All of those levels were normal, confirming that I am symtomatic.

That brought us to the last issue: whether to start me on chemo.  Because of my symptoms, my Hematologist decided it is in my best interest.  He has prescribed me with Hydroxyurea (aka Hydrea, and much easier to type), at 1000mg twice a day.

We drew more blood today, to get a baseline platelet count for the Hydrea treatment (which, again, was 855,000).  I will return weekly, on Wednesdays, to re-do the platelet count to see if that dosage needs to be modified.  Then I will return to my Hematologist in a month for my regular check-up.

We had another option with the chemo, which was Anagrelide.  My Hematologist feels that although Hydrea tends to attack other cells as well, it is still a better choice because it is simply more effective.  He said that Hydrea attacks the most prolific cells, which in my case are my platelets, but it can also effect my white blood cell count.  This is also part of the reason for the weekly CBC count: to make sure we aren’t hitting my white blood cells too hard.  It was once thought that Hydrea could influence ET to morph into Leukemia, but that is no longer the school of thought on the matter.  Doctors now believe that some people simply have the predisposition for this to happen, and it is merely a matter of ‘it would have happened anyway’.

Another interesting topic that we talked about was Grape Seed Extract.  I have read some reports about testing done in the U.K. on grape seed extract and cancer.  Not only has it been found to kill off cancerous cells in many types of cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer, but it *only* attacks the cancerous cells as opposed to most cancer medications that also attack healthy cells.  Recently, the University of Kentucky has started trials on using grape seed extract in treatment of blood cancers, including ET.  My doctor had not heard about these trials, but is interested in finding out more.  He also said that if I want to try it, by all means go ahead.  He is very open to natural medicines, and mentioned to me several types of medicines commonly used in cancer treatment that are derived from natural sources.  I think, though, that I will wait until my platelet count levels off with the use of the Hydrea, so that I can tell whether the counts are dropping because of the grape seed extract or the Hydrea.

When I took my prescription to be filled, it wasn’t in stock at my usual pharmacy.  I opted to have it ordered rather than going someplace else because I really like my pharmacy.  So it should be in tomorrow, and I will start taking it tomorrow night rather than tonight.  I am really eager to see how my symptoms are affected as my counts drop.  Very excited about it, actually.  The dizziness is what bothers me the most.  I was trying to explain it to my oldest daughter today, and the only way I could think to describe it was that it is not like normal light-headedness.  Whenever I stand up it feels like the blood is being sucked from my head, and I am being pulled down.  A very odd and unpleasant sensation that I will be glad to be rid of.

For anyone interested, here are some interesting links about the studies done with Grape Seed Extract:

BBC

Science Daily

Medical News Today

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~ by julie70 on January 14, 2009.

4 Responses to “January Check-up”

  1. I’ve read some stuff about grapeseed too. interesting. i am glad your dr is open to it – most think it doesn’t do anything so they give you that “sure, whatever” type of response. good idea to try one thing first & see how you are in a week. i really hope you feel some results fast. are there any side effects (nausea or anything) with the Hydrea?

  2. He did warn me about nausea and headaches. He also said that sometimes it causes vomiting. Hope not. But he said that there are ways of dosing that will make it easier on my system if I start having problems.

  3. I am so happy you found a Dr that you like and is open to other ideas! It makes a big difference in your care. I know Steve was prescribed an anti nausea drug while he was still on oral chemo. Hopefully you won’t need it! If you need anything, just let me know! I am only a few minutes away.

  4. My husband too Hydrea for ET without any side effects. Hopefully, things will be as smooth for you.

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