Half-Arsed Haiku – Thu 23 April, 2015

So, after my blood test on Tuesday I was called by the hospital the next day to say my neutrophil levels were very low.

A neutrophil is a type of mature white blood cell  that is essential in protecting the body against disease and infections. They are the most abundant type of white blood cells, making up about 50 – 70%, and are formed from stem cells in the bone marrowNormal neutrophil levels are about  2.5-7.5 x 109/L. Moderate neutropenia is defined as neutrophil count of 0.5-1.0.  As the neutrophil count falls, especially once it’s <1 x 109/L, a patient becomes immunocompromised and at risk of serious infections which can sometimes be fatal (gulp!). I had a level of 0.24. I was therefore classed as severely neutrophenic and, although I felt perfectly fine, was still at risk of infection and needed to be aware of anything untoward. It also meant it was unlikely my chemo would be going ahead on Thursday as the blood reading would need to be done again that day and reach 1.0 before we could proceed.

I arrived on Thursday morning to get my portacath accessed – this is a device under the skin that has a tube running from the chest to a vein near the heart – it means the chemo drugs can go direct and there’s no need to get cannulas into tricky veins in your hands or elsewhere – a godsend when you have tiny, squiggly, disappearing veins like me! As they took the blood sample i asked what the chances were the neutrophil levels would jump up from 0.24 to 1.0.  My levels had been low before but never that low and so had generally gone up enough to go ahead with chemo.  This time though it seemed an impossible jump – my nurses said they’s seen levels raise by quite a bit but certainly not enough to get me up to 1.0.  It looked like I’d be going home.  I was secretly happy though as i’d been fasting again pre-chemo since the Tuesday afternoon so at least it meant i could go straight home and eat food, glorious food!!

It took about an hour and a half to get the results but when they came back my chemo nurse excitedly asked me to guess what they were.  I said a generous 0.9 – which would be pretty impressive  but still not good enough to go ahead.  It wasn’t 0.9 though – they’d only gone and jumped up to 2.7!!! We were all gobsmacked.

I was so proud of my little neutrophils – like they’d come top of the class in some sort of exam.  Then I wondered if I was allowed to be proud of these small cells or was that weird given that I have no real claim to them other than they were created inside me.  It’s sort of like showing off about your spleen or something or taking credit for your nice neurons. Also it’s not as if i have any influence or control over them – they just do their own thing really with no help from me.  But on the other hand if the fasting I am doing IS affecting the immune system and each cell then maybe me not giving into my toast craving hadon affected them.  Maybe I could take a bit of pride in the fact that they had jumped so much.  Maybe (internally at least) i could feel like bloody Superwoman!  Go me! Go my neutrophils!  Then i remembered the prize was I got to have all my cells poisoned by chemo after all … yay (not)!

By Prof. Erhabor Osaro via Wikimedia Commons

By Prof. Erhabor Osaro via Wikimedia Commons

On My Neutrophils Rising to the Occasion:

Result! Is it weird
to be proud of your blood cells
when they pass a test?


  1. Ron · May 2, 2015

    Reblogged this on Haiku Odyssey and commented:
    Remember Emma-Jane in your prayers…without ceasing. –Ron–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lorien · May 3, 2015

    Your humor in the face of such challenging time is inspirational. Truly funny and truly touching. Thank you for sharing your story here. I’m sending you deep breaths, hugs, and a moment of relaxation to soothe your spirit. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheKintsugiGirl · May 4, 2015

      Thank you Lorien – all deep breaths, hugs and relaxation gratefully received x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lorien · May 8, 2015

        Ah good. Gratitude is good for the body, mind and soul!


  3. Jen · May 3, 2015

    While the neutropenia is terrible news – I am so happy that your count is up again!!! That is wonderful!!! Go ahead and be proud of them 🙂

    When I was going through chemo this happened to me too – so I am sending thoughts of strength and healing – for many happy neutrophils too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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