October 09, 2008

In Which Ardith Spends The Night At The Hospital

D'oh. The first version of this got erased when I was being dumb and wrote it in a browser window which died. Commencing Take 2 in a separate editor...

As some of you who read my mother's blog may have heard, I have had an exciting week. Rather more exciting that I wanted, really, but such is life.

Anywho, late last week and over the weekend, I came down with a fever and body aches that wouldn't go away. I thought it was the flu, at first. Monday night it finally got bad enough that I decided to go to the ER. Justin drove me over there, and I got the requisite IV line1, blood drawn, etc. Then they run some tests, draw some more blood, the lady comes in to make me sign papers, they draw more blood ("Your platelet count looks low. Let's test it again."), and then finally the nurse practitioner comes back to tell me that, hey, they talked to my doctor and a hematologist, and I'm getting admitted for the night. Apparently my platelet count was really low2. I also had a UTI3, but that's not a huge deal. At this point it was pretty late at night, and I wasn't terribly concerned.

So, I get admitted and settled for the night. (Which involves not sleeping. There's a fairly well-defined set of external factors which will keep me up all night. Unfortunately, they tend to all be present in your average hospital room) Early in the morning4, the hematologist stopped by and told me I had ITP, or auto-immune thrombocytopenia purpura, and that I was going to be started on prednisone.

Basically, my immune system seems to have decided that my platelets, which are what form most blood clots, are bad. The prednisone is supposed to whack my immune system upside the head long enough for it to get figured out that no, I actually want my platelets to stick around. This is apparently unrelated to the UTI, but could be cause by some random viral infection. I'm guessing it came on pretty quickly, since I hadn't noticed a large amount of extra bruising or bleeding or anything.

Somewhat later in the morning, my general care doctor came by and told me approximately the same thing, and people were telling me I could go home that day. The they drew some more blood, found my platelet count was down to zero, and there was some small amount of freaking out. Apparently this sort of thing is nearly unheard of, and I'm now the person with the lowest platelet level my nurse had ever seen. Bonus points for Ardith!

At this point, the general care doctor thought I'd need to have a platelet transfusion and be kept at the hospital a little while longer, but the hematologist said I'd be fine, and that she'd expected my platelets to disappear. Long story short, I could still go home, as long I stayed away from activities like biking and such, where it'd be easy to get bruised or cut. Apparently our bodies are pretty amazing, and have backup methods of blood-clotting. I was satisfied with this, as it's much, much better to be at home without an IV line in your arm, than it is to be in the hospital with an IV line in your arm.

So, I got home early Tuesday afternoon, started taking my drugs and catching up on sleep. Today I went to see the hematologist, got my blood drawn again, and my platelet count is all the way up to... 1. The hematologist didn't seem too terribly worried, and said that a) the prednisone probably just needs more time to work, and b) the antibiotic which I'm on for the UTI can drive down platelet levels as well. Hopefully when I go back next week, the numbers will be much better, and I'll be able to come off some of the massive dose of prednisone I'm currently on.

So, that was the exciting beginning to my week. I think that's my share for, oh, say the next twenty years.

1They managed not to stick it in my hand, using my arm instead. Bonus points for that. Also bonus points for getting me a separate room instead of a bed in the hall, but that's probably due to not being in Longview.
28000, for the curious. Normal is 150,000 to 400,000.
3Stands for Urinary Tract Infection. Bet ya really wanted to know that, didn't you?
4"Early in the morning" in this case means 4am. In hindsight, it was probably just as well I hadn't really fallen asleep anyway.

Posted by Ardith at October 9, 2008 05:12 PM | TrackBack