Thursday, February 5, 2009

Two Notable Iron Reductions

This week I had two major iron-reducing procedures. The first was my regular phlebotomy at the local Infusion Center. I was attended to by the "Pink Lady" who was jovial, to the point, and managed to analyze every joke I told. I persisted at my vain attempts at veiny humor because there was, in the three-sided cubical across from me, three or four people who looked like they needed cheering up. Some sort of procedure was going on over there and it wasn't a blood-letting. I don't think it was a blood-getting either. Given the rather grim countenances twenty feet away, I suspect that there was something rather serious transpiring, far more significant than the little iron-depleting exercise I was going through. The "Pink Lady", in her attempt to keep me cheerful during my soap opera with the 14-gauge needle, regaled me with the significance of all of the letters that were printed under her name on her tricked-out name tag. She had an RN degree, a Bachelor's of Nursing, and a credential of some kind that meant she was a master mechanic in all thing vascular. She told me that she needed all of that sort of book-learning in order to administer chemo-therapy, something that regularly happened at the Infusion Center. Suddenly I thought I knew what was happening across the way and why everyone was more than willing to be jollied up by my gasping humor.

While we were there, I asked the "Pink Lady" to let me know what my hemoglobin level was. Inasmuch as I was stepping outside my normal role as patient and doctoring myself by throwing in this extra phlebotomy, I thought that discretion was in order. (Actually, Trillium thought that discretion was in order, but if I gave her credit for everything I came up with, I would be truthful, but not worth very much as far as the public perception of my logical thinking skills is concerned.) My understanding is that 12-14 hemoglobin in an adult male is about right. As might be expected, my level a couple of days ago at the Center was 16 or so, high in almost anybody's book. Phlebotomies are not making me anemic.

Which brings me to micro- and macro-cytosis. My sister commented on a previous blog (and in numerous phone calls) that I might very well be afflicted with macrocytosis along with everything else (actually there isn't anything else except for the iron-overloading, but at the moment I wrote the sentence I was feeling a little sorry for myself). Again, as might be suspected, these two afflictions have to do with the size of one's blood cells, "macro-" being too big, and "micro- being too small.

I went to Wikipedia, my source for all things unknown and unknowable, and picked up the following: "Macrocytosis is the enlargement of red blood cells with near-constant haemoglobin concentration, and is defined by a mean corpuscular volume (MCV) of greater than 100 femtolitres (the precise criterion varies between laboratories)." I followed the definition for the first eight words and then blacked out until the parenthetical statement. I want to know what it all means, but I suspect that it is not worth the effort. But I did want to know in the worst way what a "femtolitre" is. Back to Wiki: "The femtolitre (US femtoliter) is the metric unit of volume equal to 10 to the power of -15 litre, or one quindecillionth (European) or one quadrillionth (American) litre. It is abbreviated fL or fl." I guess that it is kind of like a "nanosplatter", but with a less memorable name. I am now taken with the new and wonderful word "quindecillionth". Should not the federal government be thinking in these numerical terms rather than its opposite as far as the economy is concerned? But I digress...

The Mayo Clinic suggests that there are a number of reasons why a person may have contracted the condition known as macrocytosis. I will comment discretely as I present their findings.

1. Vitamin B-12 deficiency (I have no idea where I am here. I have enough trouble curtailing vitamin C and increasing my vitamin D. Besides, any vitamin having more than five varieties is too hard to keep track of.)

2. Folate deficiency (I suffer this only in the autumn when all of my leaves fall off.)

3. Liver diseases ("Doc Holliday" informs me that if my liver were any healthier I would be stalked by Hannibal Lector)

4. Alcoholism (This could have been a problem in my youth, but I switched to Vanilla Wafers made with artificial vanilla when I was 15).

5. A side effect of chemo-therapy drugs (I, thankfully, do not have to endure this, except in Trillium's van where there is a Cinnamon Air Freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror).

6. Increased blood cell regeneration (A-hah! This comes with blood-loss, whether deliberate or accidental; the bone marrow can't seem to differentiate between the two.)

The boys at the Salad-dressing Clinic have concluded that macrocytosis is not a disease, that it has no symptoms, and there is no known treatment. They will, however, take your money for.... um.... any reason at all. Isn't this fun! Now on to microcytosis!

Micro-psychosis... er .... micro-cytosis is a condition which usually shows up if you have one of the following:

1.Iron deficiency anemia (This... is.... not... my... problem;... clank!)

2. Sideroblastic anemia (I've seen this word before, somewhere, but concluded that I did not fit the profile... at least I don't think I did.)

3. lead poisoning (More heavy metals! The only lead poisoning that I can recall took place in seventh grade when Juanita Barcelona stabbed me in the back of my hand with her pencil. I probably had that coming.)

4. Peridoxine deficiency (This is the sweet name for vitamin B-6. I am no more comfortable with this than I was with vitamin B-12; B-12 is also called Cyanocobalamin for those of you with insatiable linguistic curiosity.)

Now the second iron-depleting procedure that I had this week was a hair cut. As the lovely girl from Richfield was going about her business, she said over and over "Man, you sure have a lot of hair!" I wondered if she meant that in the context of "... for a guy who is five times older than I am!". She wore out three pairs of scissors in the process. As I was leaving, the sweet young thing suggested "Perhaps, Dr. Beeblebrox, you should cut down on your B vitamins, particularly B-essemer." I looked that one up too. Bessemer vitamins are designed to reduce the amount of carbon in pig iron in order to make a higher quality steel. Apparently my follicles are taking over where Geneva Steel left off.


Katscratchme said...

I think Jen is rubbing off on you... "mad skills"... "tricked out" yeah.
I will say, however, that your informative take on your ailments and potential ailments is far more amusing than anything of that sort found in the Wikipedia.

shydandelion said...

Number 2 of the Macro ailments made me laugh! LOL!

Bliss said...

Yeah, I think the scissor girl was right: you need to cut down on the BS .... uh... vitamins! That's the ticket!


Judie said...

Brother dear, I only mentioned the macro blood thing, because they discovered that before they diagnosed the hemo portion of it. I quit researching this stuff a long time ago, for two reasons. 1) I don't understand half of what I read (yours makes more sense) and 2) I don't want to know why my body is falling apart piece by piece. Of course I AM having it rebuilt piece by piece, but I am having a hard time keeping up. I see my doctor next Wednesday and I cannot wait to give him a copy of your blog. His sense of humor is as wierd as yours. Must be the reasearcher in you guys.
I understand that we are not as rare as we thought we were to begin with. As they find out more about this "disorder", they find more people that have it. So we are not alone. Comforting??????

Larsens said...

More info on blood that I ever wanted to know. All I want to know about blood is: Do I still bleed blue.

You are lucky that all you got was a lead pencil stabbed on your hand. You have no idea what it feels to have a bra strap snapped constantly by an obnoxious zit faced boy. Consider yourself lucky.

Zaphod said...

Since Juanita was sitting in back of me, I doubt that I was guilty of that particular zit-faced obnoxiousness. However, I suspect that I was an annoying little twit of the first order (I was the shortest kid in my class). The piece of lead is still in my right hand, right on the knuckle of my middle finger. If you press it ever so gently it murmurs, "Hey, I thought we were friends!"

Zaphod said...

Since Juanita was sitting in back of me, I doubt that I was guilty of that particular zit-faced obnoxiousness. However, I suspect that I was an annoying little twit of the first order (I was the shortest kid in my class). The piece of lead is still in my right hand, right on the knuckle of my middle finger. If you press it ever so gently it murmurs, "Hey, I thought we were friends!"

Zaphod said...

Hmmmm. There is an echo in this room.

W.Pat said...

Foods containing calcium such as cottage cheese, yogurt, carrots, etc are great for slowing down iron absorbtion.

Drinks that have tannins work very well also. Black tea and my favorite, green tea are very helpful. Most herb teas do not contain tannins.

HH sufferrers should drink lots of water every day to keep the blood thin for easier phlebotomies and to keep the kidneys nice and flushed out.

For people who are diagnosed and treated early, normal life spans are possible. If left untreated, HH will lead to critical organ damage and most likely death.

You can find lots of real life tips from Pat at his blog:


Rebecca said...

I agree with Emily - Jen is rubbing off on you...

Very funny blog