Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trend Setting

I once had a writer friend who was a frequent contributor to Parade Magazine, the fluff-filled tabloid that's inserted into millions of small-town and big-city newspapers every Sunday. She specialized in spotting "trends," a task that's much easier than it sounds. Her editor told her if she could come up with three examples, she had a trend on her hands.

Of course, in medical parlance, "trend" has a different meaning - "general direction in which something seems to move."

Since I tapered off the steroid Prednisone in November, we've been watching my blood counts for changes in the Eosinophils (EOS)*. I started off with zero EOS, but then a trend started to develop. Every month, the EOS count would increase by 40 to 50%. If this trend continued, I figured I could be in deep doo doo by July (thought I'd throw in a little more medical speak).

I went in on Monday for lab work, and discovered that the trend wasn't continuing at the same pace. Those pesky little EOS decided to be fruitful and multiply exponentially. The percentage of EOS in my blood jumped up from 5% to 30% in one month (a 500% increase).

To be honest, I wasn't surprised. My hacking cough returned about two weeks ago. I've noticed that I'm short of breath after delivering a long-winded monologue or walking up two flights of stairs. Mild fatigue has set in, and I frequently join the cats in afternoon naps. At this point, the symptoms aren't impairing my ability to get things done or to enjoy life.

My doctor has asked me to reschedule my next appointment in two weeks instead of four. Let's just hope that this latest trend doesn't continue.

*EOS refresher course: The EOS are a component of the white blood cells designed to fight allergies or parasites. A few of them sit around twiddling their thumbs until they're called into action. When they're needed, they multiply and fight off the parasite with toxins. Normal range of EOS in the blood is 0 to 5%, with an optimal count of 2.5%

Sometimes, the EOS go haywire for no known reason. This is called idiopathic hypereosinophillic syndrome (HES), a rare condition that I was hoping I didn't have. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage to organs, especially the heart and lungs.

Eos is also the goddess of the dawn. I'm channeling her now, hoping that she'll lead me to the light.


Nancy said...

What the heck! Did Dr. F put you back on a heavy dose of steroids? Are they testing you again for parasitic infections or can it be triggered by a virus?

I had noticed your cough at the beautiful "Tea for Ten." But, I wasn't sure if it was the same or worse than the last time I had seen you. I'm sorry about your EOS problem. I hope they can make this go-away once and for all. Get plenty of rest!

Love ya,

Susan C said...

I'm not on steroids or anything right now. No mention of testing for parasites since we went through that drill last year and it turned up nothing.

Lucky for me, there are other treatment options besides Prednisone. The Prednisone works, but it's not a good thing for me to be on long-term because I have those problems maintaining weight.

Ronni Gordon said...

Geez. If it's not one thing, it's another. I hope your EOS start behaving.

Altadenablogmaster said...

Well, phooey! Glad you were well enough to be picnic hostess, but for pete's sake I hope your EOS's calm down!

Susan C said...

Ronni, aint it the truth. At least this is treatable.

ABM, I'm impressed. You correctly used EOS in a sentence.

Karen said...

Grrrrrr ... darn those pesky blood cells! Hope they can find an acceptable treatment quickly.

Susan C said...

Karen, yes "quickly" is the operative word. I'm even a little nervous about waiting two weeks because once those EOS start infiltrating, it's hard to get rid of them.

altadenahiker said...

You have been going at about 300%. Soup? Anything? Anytime.

Petrea said...

I was going to say something along the lines of what the Hiker said. That means there are two of us nearby, like a team. Anything you need, just say so.

Susan C said...

AH and Petrea, You gals are great! Thanks. So far feeling good, but I won't hesitate to "call in the troops" when needed.

Trish said...

Well cr@p!

My EOSes have been staying in line fairly well, and was assuming yours were too. Then again, I've not had a draw in a while due to my last good scan, so I can pretend all is well all around! I do suspect mine might have jumped too---allergies abounding this time of year.

Treat any allergies you might have (mild as they may be), then treat the EOS levels. Don't be getting to the dizzy, crashing gal of the last round of EOS explosions! Nuh-uh, no-way. 'K?

I just wish I could have the problem of not being able to maintain weight due to steroids...sigh!

Hang in there, thanks for the updates and if you need some good chicken soup, I'm on it and FedEx is up the street for a quick drop off.

Ann said...

Oh Susan,

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that those darn EOS's start to trend the other way. At least you won't have to go on steroids, this time around. Get some rest and take it easy until you see Dr. F next.

Margaret said...

Hey, I want to be a troop. Let me be a troop too.

susiegb said...

Ohh pooh! Really you'd think that when someone goes through some serious disease they wouldn't be lumped with something else! But it doesn't seem to work that way, does it! (I know this from personal experience!)

I do hope you manage to squash those stupid eoses down - either naturally or with some "divine" intervention via your doctor, and soon!!

Nelle said...

Is it possible that you have allergies that can push your level up? You seem to do a lot of gardening. After having my spleen removed I developed some allergies and asthma which I never had previously and now my white count is always a bit high. I still can't kick my cough either.
Wishing away those pesky EOS!
(hoping that was grammatically correct) :)

Kathy H said...

I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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