Hanging in …

Feeling puny...

I thought things would improve quickly after my tune-up at the clinic.  However, my blood pressure continued to be low – 90’s over 60’s – causing me to feel weak and dizzy.  Standing it dropped to as low as 64/41.  I was also very short-of-breath with any kind of exertion (like walking).  I had to call in sick for a third time.  Also called the clinic to report a continuation of my symptoms despite keeping hydrated and the increased dose of cortisone.

I went in for a follow-up on Monday – blood pressure was improving slightly but my hemoglobin had dropped to 8.5 grams.  That’s anemic.  The guideline is generally to transfuse when it drops less than 8.0.  I haven’t needed a blood transfusion in years.  Everything seems to have been caused by a viral infection.  We think Sophie had an episode of Fifth’s disease, which is characterized by a distinct rash pattern.  It is relatively harmless and transient.  The agent is a parovirus B19.  Infection is more problematic in adults, especially those with immune disorders.  So that may or may not have been the culprit that knocked me down.

The whole issue of my health recast in the context of me returning to work, albeit very part-time,  has caused me to reexamine a little what being a cancer- and transplant-survivor means.  Both my minor disabilities and the fragility of my health look and feel different under this new lens.  I hope to write about that in the near future.

To complicate matters, my 87 year old mother feel in her yard three weeks ago.  She bruised her ribs, making it painful to take a deep breath.  Combined with being less active due to the fall, she developed a pneumonia with fluid on her lungs.  So she was put on an antibiotic that in turn shifted the balance of flora in her gut, causing several days of diarrhea.  This led to dehydration and stress on her kidneys, already compromised from chronic renal failure.  Bottom line we ended up in the hospital all day Monday, first in ER then in a holding area waiting for a room.  More to write about here also.  Tish and I had to drive to the other side of town for my appointment.

And all of this is happening against the backdrop of a planned trip to South Carolina for my nephew’s wedding.  So my Mom and I are both weak, hypotensive, dizzy and de-conditioned.  The plan is to drive the 550 miles.  But we got the okay from her nephrologist today so all system are go.

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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