Numbers game

Nurse Practitioner K got to break the good news today – my liver numbers went down! As of today. In case you don’t know what that looks like, here they are and what they looked like as of last week:

These are your liver numbers. Rightmost column: These are your liver numbers on dabrafenib. Off the charts, you might say.
These are your liver numbers. Rightmost column: These are your liver numbers on dabrafenib. Off the charts, you might say.

You don’t need to know anything except the left hand column shows what the normal range is. The rightmost column shows where I was last week. Off the freaking charts.

What did that actually feel like? I wish I could tell you. The steroids are to blame for pretty much everything I’ve experienced, but I’m down to just 1 mg a day of those, so the effects are diminishing each day. You don’t suddenly get a pain in your liver. I couldn’t point to my liver if you asked me to. (I’m a librarian, I know where to look it up if needed. And my brain is maybe slightly compromised right now, so I am adding new information to it only on a need-to-know basis. Also, sorry – I haven’t watched the recent PBS documentary on cancer. Do coal miners go home from work and watch documentaries on Newcastle?)

What today’s miraculous numbers correction reminded me of was an episode during my pregnancy with Young A. I was hoping to use the birthing center at the hospital, and give birth with a midwife on hand – because my idea of fun is to be stubborn and see if I can put up with lots of pain. When it came to childbirth, morbid curiosity about how much pain I could withstand was basically my birth plan. (I didn’t know Young A was going to come out 9 lbs 7 oz, with a head circumference that was proclaimed “off the charts” once measured.)

My blood work came back slightly ominous one day. My platelet count had dropped precipitously. If I didn’t get it back up, I was going to “risk out” of the birthing center I’d been so looking forward to using. My amazing midwife (and now friend) S suggested I take a supplement called Coenzyme Q10. I remember distinctly her telling me, “We don’t know why  it works, but it seems to.” I found some and faithfully popped a capsule every day.

Next blood work results, success! The numbers were back up to a normal level. I got my birthing center birth, an Alice in Wonderland-like midwifery induction of labor that included Greek takeout from across the street (EAT ME) (promptly vomited a few hours later), the swallowing of herbs in liquid form (DRINK ME), many walks up and down a flight of stairs (WALK ME), realizing the jacuzzi tub was way too loud to enjoy during labor, but feeling too embarrassed to jump out immediately since it had taken so long to fill (ENDURE ME).

Speaking of which, last week when I saw Dr P, I told her how much my treatment was making me think of Alice in Wonderland. She stated her preference was to be the Mad Hatter. She’s got a lock on it for the film version.

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