When we last left our hero, his ANC (white blood cell neutrophil count, a sign of infection risk) was 510 at the NIH visit on May 6. Low normal is 1500. But the higher the number, the less infection risk. I’ve been very concerned and cautious about infections since that’s what kills most people with Aplastic Anemia.
I prayed a lot the week after my NIH visit that my ANC (white cell neutrophil count) would increase from 500 to 600. After all, I was told that I wasn’t responding to the treatment, so I obviously was a little worried.
Each week, I’d been asking my ‘spiritual leader’, my brother-in-law Kevin, to ask God specifically to increase my ANC level to 600. I was looking for a “sign from God” that everything was going to be OK.
Then my numbers came back the following week.
Bummer. Down from 510. Still no progress and still have to worry about infections.
When it came back at 500, Kevin said, “They may say it’s 500, but faith says it’s 600!”. That’s when I made the connection…
1 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by believing and not by seeing
This was a test of my faith! So I prayed again to reach the 600 level the following week. But this time, I told God that I was OK with this test and that I would accept whatever He wanted my level to be. “I know you have a reason for my disease and a plan for me,” I’d say to Him.
That week, I started feeling the best I’d felt since January when I was diagnosed. It was kinda eerie to me knowing that I was really not progressing in my blood counts or transfusion dependency. I still had trouble breathing with exertion ( a symptom of the anemia), but no real nausea. I even had an urge to do some yard work outside last Sunday. I’d been avoiding it because of the risk of infection, still wearing my mask in crowded places.
But I felt God telling me, “It’s going to be OK. Live your life for me. Be patient, and don’t worry. I’ve got this.”
Then the results of my blood test came back.
(Oh, did I mention that I did my TheraBand exercises just before my blood test this time? Remember my experiment in the hospital?)
I was at Mary Bird Perkins outpatient transfusion center weekly getting blood and platelets. I usually get stuck by needles 4 times in one day as they try to find a vein that works. I think about Jesus being nailed to the cross as they squirm the needles in my veins, looking for blood.
Last week, my platelet level was still low, but still high enough not to need a platelet transfusion. While I still needed a red blood cell transfusion last week, having longer periods of time between transfusions is a good sign of progress.
I continued praying each day that God would increase my levels. Today, I had my weekly blood test.
That’s the highest it’s been since I was diagnosed in January! (Did I mention I did my TheraBand workout again before my blood test today?)
In fact, all my levels are higher (except platelets) than when I was diagnosed in January. In addition, I’m trying to go another week without platelets OR red blood cells! My counts seem to be stabilizing, although they remain low.
What a great sign of progress… but while we’re out of the woods, but we’re not out of the tall grass yet.
Then I did some math. I realized that in actuality, I was released from the hospital on April 10 after my infection, so the clock should have started ticking at the beginning of April rather than the beginning of February as they had calculated at NIH for my 3-month follow up earlier this month. That means that I would technically show a 3-month response by early July. So perhaps I wasn’t as non-responsive or ‘behind schedule’ as I thought. I’m on God’s schedule, anyway.
My ANC goal was 500 for my 3-month follow-up visit, which I hit. My goal for my 6 month follow-up in August is an ANC of 1000, and I have complete confidence that I’ll reach that goal if not 1500! I’m almost half-way there! Just have to keep up that TheraBand workout…
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.