Immune System and Platelets

My doctor made tsk-tsk noises as he read my comprehensive blood count (CBC). He saw me looking at him and explained that my platelet count was low. Mine was 60,000 when 140,000 to 160,000 is the healthy range. “You’re a little low.” he said dryly. 

“Uh huh, so what does that mean?” I asked him.

“Platelets are the component and blood that assist clotting. When your platelets are way low, you can hemmorage internally, cuts won’t stop bleeding, stuff like that.”

“It sounds like hemophelia.” I said.

“Well, it is like hemophelia. In this case it’s call thrombocytopenia. It’s a malfunction of the bone marrow that causes it and its one of the things that manifest in a damaged immune system.” said the doctor.

“What can I d about it? I assume there’s some kind of corrective action, right?”

“We might give you a transfusion. There’s also some drugs you can take, but they aren’t really that effective. But if there was a full court press, I suppose we would try all kinds of things.” he said.

“Like what?”

“Well, we could give you Neumega, but with your tendency for plapitations that’s not a great idea. I mention it only because I’m answering your question. Then there’s diet changes; eating leafy vegetables, tomatoes, tuna, salmon, like that. And you would cut down on cafeinated drinks, sugars, take teaspoons of sesame oil. You would avoid aspirin and ibuprofen –NSAIDs, and get at least eight hours of sleep each night and during the day engage in cardio exercises.” 

“That sounds like the prescriptions for everything.” I said.

“That’s because it is. On the whole, doing all of those things might elevate platelets in a healthy person. Maybe take their platelets from 155 up to 160. For someone with Multiple Myeloma, not so much. Your problem isn’t diet, it’s cancer that’s targeted your bone marrow. So to raise your platelet count we can either give you a transfusion –or cure the cancer.” said the doctor. He smiled to let me know he was being funny.

“You’re being funny.” I said.

He harrumphed. “Well, that’s really the size of it. I wish we could cure the cancer, but we can’t do that yet. I think the day will come, but not yet.”

My wife spoke up. “My husband drinks three or four sodas every day and he’s been having trouble sleeping. He sleeps a lot lately, but it’s all in short bursts.”

The doctor nodded. “Yeah, we’re tracking that. Platelets aren’t responsible for his sleep. At least largely. And in is case I don’t think the pop is hurting him. It may be responsible for at least some of the energy he has. From what I understand, it’s pain that wakes him. Is that right?” he asked, looking at me.

“For the most part.” I answered. I thought about my wife’s snoring, the seranading of the family cats, the trainyard nearby that supplied a cacauphony of sounds but failed to mention them. It was indeed pain that wakened me most often. “The weather is a discouragement as well.” I commented. “The things I enjoy doing are outside and with the skies gray and the chilly –make that freezing– temperatures, well, so much for outside.”

“Your easily chilled?” asked the doctor.

“He is,” said my wife. “His circulation is lousy.”

“I get cold easily.” I added.

“That’s not surprising with you history of IV therapy attempts. Chemotherapy can be pretty hard on the circulation system.” said my doctor. “But back to the platelets, we’re probably going to have to consider a transfusion for you if we procede with the intercostal block. I doubt an anathesiologist would want to touch you with your platelets so low. They get antsy about stuff like that.”

“So, should I start giving blood and having them collect my platelets up?” I asked.

“No, you don’t have to do that. Platelets are platelets.” said my wife. The doctor and I looked at her. “I’m a five gallon donor at the blood banks. I’ve given blood for plasma, platelets, and whole blood. I have my five gallon certificate but I’ve actually given more. Some of the time they took part of it and returned the rest. The five gallons is whole blood donation.” 

“You give that all at once, did you?” asked my doctor, grinning. My wife made a rude noise in response. “Anyway, we’ll have to keep an eye on this. I’d hate to see these numbers get any lower. Are you getting bloody noses?” he asked.

“Yeah, actually I am.” I replied.

“Figures. Yeah, I’ll make a note to keep and eye on these levels. If they drop much more I think we should give you some blood to perk you up a little.” he said.

“Great. I’ve become a vampire.” I answered.

“Actually, that’s true. Or will be if we have to start giving you other people’s blood. At least you won’t be drinking it.”

“Gross.” I said.


Relapsed High Risk Myeloma – Update July 3 2013

My neighbor gave us a huge trout he caught yesterday on the Mackay Reservoir. We baked this rainbow trout filled with lemon slices and coated with cooking spray for dinner and it was very good!

I spent the day one-with-the-sofa – TIRED. Seems like I need a catch-up rest day every other day or so.

We heard tonight that Sare Stoddard’s husband, Randy, had a series of 2 strokes at their cabin in Allenspark, Colorado and is hospitalized in Boulder. Randy is the father of “MY BABY” (Steph) who was born in May 1972. We are hoping for the best for Randy. Here is photo of us taken in August 2011. How quickly things can change! We are wishing the best for Randy!

Father’s Day 2013 – Frank Malkiewicz Age 92 Years – June 16 2013

Jani (Jani cooked) and I had Dad over for breakfast this morning to celebrate Father’s Day 2013. It is his 67th Father’s Day Celebration!

Jeff and Carol sent him an electronic wine bottle opener which he loved (we think) – we haven’t tried it yet.

Jeff, Dad, Judy on the Big Lost River Smelter Bridge, Mackay Idaho May 1954.

Judy and Dad in Mountain Home, Idaho 1955.

Jani, Dad, and Judy in Mountain Home, Idaho November 1957.

Jani and Judy Malkiewicz, Mountain Home, Idaho (our first television in the background) December 1957, but we preferred our new books at the time!

Judy and Jeff at PHA Housing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Christmas 1955

Frank Malkiewicz on unaccompanied TDY (without family) in Guam 14 December 1957.

Jani barbecued the rainbow trout from Kase Hainline tonight – it was delicious, but gave me a pretty good case of gastritis afterwards. Jani is NOT FOND of fish.

I was able to walk Kemmer and Zoe around 2 blocks this afternoon – stopping for a brief rest on a log at the former Tipton Estate.

Relapsed High Risk Myeloma – Update June 9 2013

I got up at o’dark thirty and went to the gas station to buy eggs (got the last crate) because I was too tired to go to the grocery store yesterday….came home and boiled the eggs. Jani boiled the potatoes, cut the sweet pickle and made the potato salad sauce that tastes EXACTLY like M used to make. I am so PROUD of Jani!

Friends from Colorado arrived this afternoon for a short visit. 

Jani and I took them up on the Mine Hill in Jonah. Again, I never got out of Jonah and did no hiking around. My heart races when I try to walk, so I’m pretty sure my hemoglobin (oxygen carrying cells) are continuing their drop downward. I’ll probably need a packed red blood cell transplant by next Tuesday, 11 June 2013.

Beautiful warm/hot day with little to no wind.

Relapsed High-Risk Myeloma – Lab Results – May 21 2013

My white blood cell count was 3.7 low, but very good for me (norms 4.5-11); ANC (absolute neutrophil count) 2.71 excellent (norms 1.9-8.8) so no mask needed; hemoglobin 10.9 low, but holding on after 2 units of packed red blood cell transfusions on 14 May 2013 (norms 12-16); and platelets still miserably low at 35 (norms 140-440), however my own bone marrow made 17 platelets!! WhooHOO.

My LDH continues to drop from a high of 1,516 on 23 April 2013 and 855 on 14 May 2013 to 735 today on 21 May 2013. Again, the LDH is a “generalized test of inflammation and perhaps cell growth” and should only be taken with a grain of salt – BUT, I’M TAKING IT! Perhaps, the bendamustine is working some for me!

My Chem Panel was essentially normal with a slightly high BUN at 19 (norms 7-17). So, I don’t have to worry about kidney failure for the time being.

I still feel tired, especially in the afternoons. My mornings are good and I get a lot done both physically and mentally each morning. However, I have been getting up too early between 5 and 5:30 AM.

I’m on Day 2 of the second Z-Pack antibiotic for my sinus infection. That could be contributing to my tiredness. 

I’m eating red licorice…I told Jani not to take this photo because my myeloma friend, Danny Parker, would see it…and he’s for limiting sweets when you have myeloma….But, Danny, I love licorice!

My dear next door neighbor from Colorado, Mary McPhee, passed away yesterday 21 May 2013. She was such a wonderful friend and will be greatly missed.!
Mary P. McPheeNov. 13, 1933-May 20, 2013, Age: 79

Mary P. McPhee, 79, of Greeley, passed away at Hospice of Northern Colorado. She was born Nov. 13, 1933, to Louis and Rosa Kousoulos in Cody, Wyo. Mary married Richard McPhee on Jan. 9, 1954, and they later divorced, but remained very close friends.
Mary graduated high school in Cody, Wyo. She moved to Greeley in 1972. She obtained her real estate license in 1975, and worked for Moore Realty, Sears Real Estate, New Horizons and back at Sears, before retiring in October 2011. She loved attending her grandchildren’s sporting events and activities.
Mary is survived by her sons, Mark (Cindy) McPhee, Greeley, Mike (Mary) McPhee, Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Matt (Debbie) McPhee, Greeley; her brother, Louis Kousoulos Jr., Cody, Wyo.; grandchildren, Brooke (Casey) Speck, Travis McPhee (Danyell Stratford), Kelli (Ryan) Nugent, Sarah Pachl, Amy (Richard) Smith, Kacee Pachl, Tanner McPhee, Zach McPhee, Seth McPhee, and Delaynie McPhee; and a great-granddaughter, Amelia Nugent. She was preceded in death by her parents; grandson, Garrett McPhee; sister-in-law, Diane Kousoulos; and by Richard “Dick” McPhee.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at the Allnutt Macy Chapel, with inurnrnent at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Northern Colorado, in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 702 13th St., Greeley, CO 80631. Friends may view the online obituary and send condolences at

Here’s to 2013!

Happy New Year everyone. It has just occurred to me that for those very superstitious people out there  it is going to be a very long year especially if they have to write down the shortened date on a daily basis! Luckily I’m not superstitious, but I am ever so slightly apprehensive about the milestone birthday which will arrive in June. 

As we start a new year with a nice fresh diary (actually I haven’t got one, I forgot both diary and calendar) I am resolute that I won’t be “fat and fifty”. So I will try my best over the next few months to lose a bit of weight and get into a reasonable shape. It won’t be easy, as I’ve mentioned before, my relationship with food tends to be rather chaotic, food to celebrate and food to commiserate, either way it is always the unhealthy stuff that makes it to my plate. I need to be in a permanent state of neutralness! I’m a total food addict. 

After the success of Thinning Thursdays two years ago I realised that having to report back to all my blog readers (real or imagined) spurred me on to actually lose weight each week for fear of the shame of reporting a gain. So I hope you will all indulge me and allow me to take up valuable space in the blog-o-sphere with my dieting anecdotes.  I might even post some really lovely recipes for low fat healthy meals including home made burgers and coleslaw (home made too), low fat Southern fried style chicken (baked in the oven) and of course my butter nut squash and  bacon soup. Tonight it is a healthy chilli con carne, the only argument will be how spicy to make it.


2nd ASCT – Day 113 – September 9 2012

On the myeloma side, the neuropathy in my left leg is maybe getting worse and keeps me awake at night. It seems to be radiating up my leg more – even to the groin. Begins on the bottom of my foot like I stepped on a hot iron and travels up just the back of my calf to the back of my knee – and last night to the right inside groin area. I also have thrush in my mouth and continue to take fluconazole which is helping.

Had a nice steep walk this morning on the Mine Hill with Kemmer.

2nd ASCT – Day 96 – August 22 2012

I walked Kemmer 1.70 miles on the Mine Hill…air quality is still awful from the Halstead Fire north of Stanley and I wore my N-95 Mask – in fact, I’m wearing it all the time outside.

I made the apricot crisp from my apricot tree harvest. Turned out good…even though I was one egg short.

2nd ASCT – Day 95 – August 21 2012

Didn’t sleep last night due to the dex, but I seem to have plenty of energy today. I walked Kemmer 1.70 miles on the Mine Hill (forgot my camera card in the computer, so no photo). The burning neuropathy in my left foot and some now in my right foot also didn’t help the sleep situation. The dex has me absolutely “STARVING HUNGRY” ALL THE TIME! I could eat a whole loaf of bread if I let myself…I did LET MYSELF eat a piece of toast and apricot jelly at 2:30 AM~

Ran errands around town and helped my father with scanning some documents. Picked apricots at my father’s neighbor’s house. I’m going to make an apricot crisp and a couple jars of jelly.
Jonah (white 1999 Honda Passport) went to Tim Reimann for a new gear shifting mechanism and it works perfectly…now, I’ll be able to get around and BACK HOME on any dirt road around!
From Reimann’s Kemmer and I walked home via the school and the LDS Church for a distance of 1.15 miles – not exactly a direct route.

2nd ASCT – Day 13 – May 31 2012

Jani made me breakfast in bed. My stomach is still upset, but I was able to eat most of the eggs and toast. Our hotel room consists of 2 bedrooms with baths and a central kitchen and living area. We didn’t need to go anyplace today and I spent the majority of the day in bed with that ongoing headache and acid stomach!