Posts Tagged ‘magnesium’

Busy (and greasy) today, hospital visit tomorrow

May 3rd, 2010

I’ve received tons of great feedback from the blog, and I fully intend to keep blogging, hopefully one or two posts per day minimum.

But today I had a lot of work to catch up on (some of which I got done), and the fact that we can’t bathe makes me sleepy, greasy and grumpy . . . and not much in the mood for blogging.  We can’t bathe because a water main ruptured on Saturday, and now the Boston water supply is contaminated with fecal bacteria.  Just the extremely uncommon event I need right now, eh?  As a result, of course drinking tap water is out, which isn’t a big deal.  But showering is also out—too dangerous for me.  So last night I boiled water for hours, slowly filling the tub to take what was ultimately a very unsatisfying bath.  I woke up this morning feeling gross.  And bathing is very important for me in my condition.  Accumulating bacteria is not exactly what I need to be doing right now.  We considered grabbing a hotel in P-town (cheap right now, before peak season), but then we’d have to contend with carpet, and curtains, and any microbiological gifts the previous visitors might’ve left.  So we just stayed put.  Boston water officials are estimating that the water will be potable again tomorrow afternoon.

And to add to the good times, tomorrow I have my weekly hospital appointment.  Walking into a hospital, with all of its multi-drug resistant strains of god knows what is always a bit difficult. Sitting in a crowded waiting room is even more unnerving.  But, in general I actually enjoy meeting with my physician, and our meetings always go quite well.  If my red blood cells, platelets and magnesium are all in good shape, the appointment will be fast.  If not—if I need a blood transfusion, a platelet transfusion, or a magnesium infusion—I’ll be at the hospital all day long tomorrow.

Red blood cell and platelet transfusions are not awful.  I usually break out in hives—likely due to mismatches in subtle details of blood chemistry.  Sometimes this can lead to the development of antibodies, and therefore immune reaction against blood products, but luckily that has not happened to me.  It’s the magnesium that’s so tough.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m taking a drug called tacrolimus to prevent Graft Verus Host Disease—in which my new immune system (correctly) recognizes that my body’s tissue are foreign, and attacks them.  The tacrolimus is part of the chemical milieu that tricks my new immune system into accepting my body’s tissues as self.  It also leaches magnesium out of my body.  I mentioned earlier that I had to take supplements because of my malnutrition, but I didn’t provide details.  A normal daily supply of magnesium is up to 400 milligrams; I was taking six times that for weeks early on, and even then my magnesium was too low.  Very low magnesium means vigorous, uncontrollable shaking, and left for too long, nerve damage (and I already have that from four years of chemo, thank you).  Over time, the kidneys accommodate and stop leaching the magnesium.  But I’m not sure that’s happening to me yet.  If it’s not, I may have to have a magnesium infusion.  The problem with magnesium infusions is that they make me feel like I’m being burned from the inside—and they take hours; one time I was infused for five hours; my physician did not order that torture (a nurse practitioner did, despite my protestations).  And since that lovely experience, my physician has been very good about allowing me to increase my oral doses so I don’t have to endure the infusions, but there is a limit to how much I can take by mouth, as it too causes diarrhea.  Sheesh!

The point is, I might have a quick day tomorrow, or it could be a long, rotten day.  I guess you’ll know which easily enough: If I don’t post, it’ll be because it was a bad day.

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