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I wanted to give an update on my post from two weeks ago about the low platelets in my bloodwork results from my annual physical (and a re-check ten days later)
The Short Story – Nothing Life Threatening!
The short story great news is that my Hematologist was able to rule out all the more concerning causes of low platelets (leukemia, lymphomas, etc.). Further, the high-dose steroid (Dexamethasone) she prescribed worked, and as of Tuesday, my platelets are up to 285, which is back within the normal range of 140-400 (they had been 34 and 28 at my physical and the subsequent re-check).
My next steps are continued bloodwork monitoring to make sure the platelets don’t drop again, and to follow up with a rheumatologist to see if they’re better able to get at the root cause of the low platelets.
I spoke a bit too soon in my last post about not having any negative side effects from the Dexamethasone. As soon as I took my last dose last weekend, I had all sorts of fun stuff. Blurry vision, shaky arms, and terrible nausea. I spent most of last week feeling like crap, which seems standard for withdraw from the medication.
That’s the short story. Read on below for the longer story if interested.
The Longer Story – A Possible Autoimmune Condition
If you recall, I went to a hematologist a week earlier, and she had ordered 12 vials of blood. I was getting the results online as they came in. She had explained to me that if there was anything immediately concerning that she would call me. And therefore, if I saw anything in my results that were outside of the normal range that I shouldn’t panic because she had already deemed that it wasn’t anything that required immediate attention. She said she would discuss her full interpretation of the bloodwork results in a week.
As the results came in, I was definitely seeing lots of results outside of the normal range. I googled some of them, but it was basically impossible for a layperson to interpret them.
I went for the week-later follow-up appointment with the Hematologist. She said that the results do not show anything that is immediately concerning. Markers that might be indicative of leukemias, like certain blood proteins and other ratios were all within normal range. So, she would not need to order a bone marrow biopsy.
Whew! Big relief.
What was out of whack in my bloodwork, however, were several “inflammation” markers, which could be indicative of an autoimmune condition. She said that given my family history of autoimmune diseases (my dad has rheumatoid arthritis), that it seems like a possible culprit.
She also explained that there is at least one autoimmune condition that causes dry eyes, and, I had seen an ophthalmologist about dry eyes last summer because I started getting them so suddenly and dramatically. A quick Googling reveals she is perhaps talking about Sjogren’s Syndrome. At further research of that autoimmune condition, it can cause pain in your salivary gland, which is near your ear. Interestingly, I had been having random minor pains on my cheek near my left ear, which I kept attributing to frequently sleeping with my face on my hand. I figured that I had been poking my face in the middle of the night or something.
So, those symptoms of Sjogrens might fit. But, she said that a rheumatologist would be better qualified to make that diagnosis. She also mentioned it might just be plain old ITP, which is diagnosed through a process of elimination. But, the hematologist did seem to keep referring back to my dry eyes symptoms I had started to experience last summer.
I have an appointment to see a rheumatologist in early July to get to the bottom of it. The hematologist wrote down what I should tell the Rheumatology office when making my appointment. That I have:
- Positive ANA
- Positive SSA
- Positive SSB
- Elevated Rheumatoid Factor
There were other things outside of the normal range of my bloodwork as well, such as my Immunoglobulin G (elevated), Elevated sedimentation rate, and elevated C-Reactive Protein (among other things). But the four items in the bulleted list above were the only things she said I needed to mention directly to the Rheumatology department. Plus, the Rheumatologist will have access to all my results when I go for my appointment.
I’m feeling very thankful for a lot of things.
- Good health insurance, which I know is a luxury for a lot of Americans.
- A flexible job and understanding coworkers and bosses. It makes a world of difference knowing that you can take off for an appointment at a moment’s notice and everyone is so understanding.
- My husband, of course, who did everything he could to calm my nerves while I was freaking out during the long waits in between all my test results.
- Modern science, medicine, and doctors. Seriously. The things they can tell just from vials of blood are amazing.
- My decision to take preventative medical care very seriously. I was only 18 years old in 1999 when my mom was diagnosed with, and successfully treated for, breast cancer. The early detection of her breast cancer through a routine annual mammogram really impacted my future decisions to see doctors routinely and to advocate for my own health. Now, if I could only start to prioritize diet and fitness to complement this element!