When I went to clinic on 5 September, they gave me a copy of these graphs which show my blood results over the past six months. The green band is the normal range in each graph. If you click on a graph, you will be able to see a larger picture of it.
In the graphs, you can see the dangerous impact of the high dose chemotherapy and why the transplant of stem cells is also called stem cell ‘rescue’.
You can also see a direct connection to these key dates:
16.06.2011 Initial chemotherapy to boost production of stem cells
03.08.2011 High dose chemotherapy
04.08.2011 Stem cell transplant
25.08.2011 Infection post-transplant
Haemoglobin is the iron-containing, oxygen-transporting part of red blood cells. This is monitored to check on anaemia, caused by myeloma. As you can see, I am still slightly below normal, i.e. still anaemic, which is evident for me in the fatigue I experience, but much less than previously.
White blood cells are the body’s defence system. They rise when faced with an infection. They dropped, then peaked immediately after the initial chemotherapy treatment, which was given to boost the stem cells prior to collection. The next big drop was following the high dose chemotherapy/stem cell transplant. And the next peak was when I had an infection a week after leaving hospital.
Neutrophils are the immune system component of white blood cells. These were closely monitored post-transplant to decide when I could leave hospital. I had to wait until they were at least 1 before they let me out. As you can see, this graph is almost exactly the same as the white blood cells graph.
Platelets are the part of the blood that create clots. When they got very low post-transplant, I was given a transfusion of platelets. I’m not quite sure what makes them rise and fall, apart from the obvious high dose chemotherapy.
Creatinine is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, but if the kidneys are failing, as mine were, then there is more creatinine in the blood. They use this test to measure how well the kidneys are functioning. As you can see, my kidneys have improved noticeably since the initial diagnosis in February. The renal unit have now signed me off, but my kidney function will continue to be monitored in blood tests taken by the Haematology unit.