It all started with my yearly trip to the OB-GYN....and routine blood work. The doctor's office called with a request for more blood as my red and white cells were a little on the high side, as was my platelet count.
OK. No problem. I probably had a minor infection somewhere on planet Nina. So more blood was given. And although the counts had gone down, they had not gone down enough....I met with my OB GYN....and peppered him with questions...the first one being "Do I have the big C?" He was not worried but just to be sure I was going to be referred to a Hematologist. Sheesh.
This doctor was a nice guy who have me a full exam (and was incredulous at how tickle-ish I am) and ordered some blood tests done. By now I am looking as if I had been used as somebody's pin-cushion. Blood sugar was low so I had to go back for another blood test....although I did offer to come in the next time I cut myself shaving and thus save myself a needle...this offer, although kindly given, was denied. Worry, worry, worry.
Then came the dreaded meeting to review everything...was I OK? Mentally I have always known I was beyond hope, but physically I have always enjoyed pretty good health. Other than my own, personal collection of fat and cellulite, I had always been healthy.
This time my luck was up. Damn.
"You are healthy" came the doctor's initial statement. He really could have just stopped there. He could have just said that and sent me home. But he didn't. It appears that my body has betrayed me...and although it is far from the perfect body, it is mine. I have gotten to know it...we have spent many years together and have been through a lot...I was comfortable with it (for example, there is an unspoken understanding that my fat not only keeps me warm, but it keeps my pants up. See? Working fat. That's what I have....and this is SUCH a good symbiotic relationship for us. A woman and her fat...so simple yet so complete.)...but now....now well, let's just say that the doctor's mouth was moving but I did not hear anything....he had to go over the same thing again and again...."you have a rare type of disease...Myeloproliferative disorder....it is a disease of the bone marrow....it is third cousin to leukemia....the type of MPD you have Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)...your bone marrow is producing too many red blood cells...to many white blood cells...your red blood cells are small....platelets are at a high count....got to lower them to prevent stroke....you have low iron...blah blah blah blah blah..."
Fear...."third cousin to leukemia?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Can it turn into leukemia? There is a small chance. Will this kill me? Your weight has a better chance of doing that (smart-ass doctor). Will it ever go away? Most likely, no. You mean I'll be on medicine the rest of my life? Yes. Is it the big C? No.
Anger...stupid bone marrow...stupid, stupid bone marrow. I hate you. You have betrayed me. You have turned against me. You are a traitor. Please don't do anymore bad things. I really don't hate you. I am just angry with you for now.
Fear...."THIRD COUSIN TO LEUKEMIA!!!!!???!!!"
Disbelief....what causes this? Exposure to chemicals...like petroleum, oil, gas....well that let's me off the hook. You see, I have never been exposed to those things...so this might be a mistake, right? No. It may be hereditary. You mean other members of my family may have this? They might.
By now I must have looked dazed....the doctor wheeled himself over to me and started using flow-charts.
One of the results of having this condition is kidney stones. Now, although I have never experienced these little joys, my younger brother has. Last year they removed one from his kidney the size of a lima bean (he has it saved to show me - cool huh?) Yeah, you can guess where my mind is going with this now....does HE have this condition also? Oh geez...I gotta call my parents and share all this information with them...and insist he get his blood checked.
I call my parents....and folks, this was the hardest phone call I have had to make in my life to date. My dad takes it like...like...well like a doctor. He is calm, cool, and wants to know all the facts. My mother...well she is a different story. She is scared, upset....and has a keen insight as to why my iron count is so low...."you need to stop this phase of not eating meat and eat meat....once a week...now DO IT!!!" Leave it to mom to put things in perspective....a phase....one that I have been in for nearly 2 decades...that's almost 20 years mom. "Stop playing doctor with yourself and do this. I will be checking on you now". Nice.
So now I am on medication...and I have to be careful of so many things....one of them being to be careful not to bruise...this could lead to blood clots...and that would not be a good thing. Since my blood is also thinned now, I have to be careful of bleeding... and for once in my life I am COLD! (gotta admit, I am enjoying that). I mean, here I am...the person who was always HOT...always lowering the AC....always calling in and having the temperature in my classroom lowered....always in shorts till February...now I am finally COLD! What an interesting feeling!
I have to admit...I do feel better in one way....my iron supplement is BOO YAH! I have not felt this well is so long....so I cannot possibly have this disease...right?
But alas, I do...as evidenced in the meds I take for it. I move slower now and I am always looking around me once I get to a "stopping point" ...and I eat meat more often (I simply cannot lie to my Mommy)...blek...yucko...gross....but Man of House has been so wonderful....he makes sure he shows me that it is organic and had a humane life before it was...it was...."removed from life".
And the good thing is that we caught this early...very, very early....a matter of a year between one good and one not-so-good blood test. Thank you Dr. OB GYN.