So it's been a strange week.
Tuesday was Kitty's birthday. Nothing strange about that. Kitty is one to be celebrated every day, always. But ever since she was a kid, Kitty had a tendency -- more often than not -- to be sick on holidays. Her folks used to call her the "Holiday Kid." So, true to form, she had a cold on Tuesday. No biggie.
But Wednesday the cold got worse and she started feeling weak and dizzy. That's a sure sign of incipient bronchitis, something she's prone to every now and then. So it's off to the E.R. for an x-ray and some antibiotics and Bob's your uncle.
So they ran some tests and they drew some blood. A little while later they came back, apologizing because the lab had to have messed up with the blood sample, and could they draw some blood a second time? It's never good when they have to draw your blood a second time.
The lab did not screw up either time. Kitty's red blood count was seriously low and she was severely anemic. How anemic? Well, a decent hemoglobin count is 10. A good hemoglobin count is 12. You need a hemoglobin count of 13 to donate blood (which Kitty does as often as she can, and which she did in January). Her hemoglobin count on Wednesday was 6, well below the criteria for instant hospitalization. And hospitalize her they did, even though the doctor and the nurses all agreed that she didn't look anemic.
The next morning, the count was down to 5.2. The doctor explained that each decreasing point was effectively a pint of blood.
Turns out she had a very rare autoimmune disorder that was destroying her red blood cells. Where it cam from, who knows? They tested her for various nasty things like lupus, a bunch of cancers, HIV, and Lord knows what else. Turns out she was very healthy except for destroying her red blood cells. We were told that what she had was pretty rare.
They gave her a unit of blood to see what would happen. They hesitated to give more in case the new blood started breaking down also. The hematologist told us she was going to start treatment with steroids -- which work about 20% if the time. The fallback plan would be to try a number of other drugs. The fallback plan to the fallback plan would be to remove Kitty's spleen.
The steroid they would give her was Prednisone -- which gave us some concern.
FLASHBACK TO ALMOST A QUARTER CENTURY AGO: A elevator door opened. Kitty walked in. The elevator wasn't fully there; it had stopped about a foot from floor level. Kitty took a very bad toss and was pretty well smashed up. When we took to the nearest medical center, the staff had first thought she had been severely beaten by her husband (me). While treating her, they gave her Prednisone. Her reaction to Prednisone was epic. Confusion, severe weight gain, 36-hour days and 36-hour nights, as well as a bunch of other minor things. Anyway, Kitty recovered from the fall with just a few lasting effects, but from that time on we have been wary of Prednisone. END FLASHBACK.
They said they would monitor the Prednisone closely and Kitty said to go ahead. And it seemed to work. Her hemoglobin count was 8.2 the next day, dropped to 7.8 that evening, but was close to 9 the following day.
So, yesterday she was released. And she was happy. The hospital bed was very uncomfortable with a metal rod across the middle digging into my her back. I slept in a very uncomfortable reclining chair. The bright spot over those three and a half days (aside from being with Kitty, that is) is that they had bacon every morning in the hospital cafeteria.
Anyway, we are home. We are happy. Kitty is healthy (although there will some regular tests over the next few weeks). And we're back in time to catch The Walking Dead tonight.
Life is good. Strange, but good.