Those darn platelets

When my platelets peaked at 116 (well it was a peak compared to last year’s trough, but not up to the levels of the pre-chemo days) the haematology consultant decided I didn’t need to go into CCHU for a while and that they would instead have me have a blood test every four months which they would follow up with a ‘phone call. I had had a blood test a month ago for my last oncology appointment where I found that my platelet count had drifted down to 83. Would it now have recovered or would it still be dropping?

A little before the appointed time the phone rang which caught me out – face to face appointments always seem to run late. What was the number going to be? It turned out that it had again dropped – to 69. So a number of questions: had I had any bruising or bleeding (no), was there blood in my pee or poo (no) and so on. I was showing nothing out of the ordinary so no need for any form of intervention but I should contact haematology if I had any problems. As long as the platelet count keeps above 50 they will be happy but they would be concerned below 10 (or 20 depending who you are talking to) – red shading on the graph.

For new readers, the normal range is 150 – 450 x 109/L (the green area on the graph) although you can happily live with lower levels.

platelets Oct 15 to Sep 17

So not the result I was hoping for, but one I can live with. I will get an update next month when I have a blood test for my annual diabetes review.

Of course there can be a margin of error on the platelet count but I obviously wonder why it has dropped. Has it suddenly got into an annual cycle driven by the moon and tides? Is it related to my weight? (I pootle along at a bit over 11 stone but am currently about eleven and a half stone and was even more than that last September but less eighteen months ago. When I was younger and playing rugby I was always 11 stone in the summer and 12 stone in the winter!). Is it because I am eating more crisps than I used to? Is this all nonsense trying to make sense of something that is idiopathic?

And before I go it is interesting how stories get distorted and numbers change. A month or two back the papers ran a story about the upset that the National Trust had caused by insisting that its volunteers wear a rainbow coloured badge at one of it properties in Norfolk. This would have affected about 350 volunteers. The National Trust reversed its decision after a lot of adverse publicity and made it voluntary. This episode was reported in an article in the The Spectator Australia (which I suspect is not a liberal publication. Not sure how I got to read it, I blame Facebook. Sometimes it steers you to something interesting, sometimes to something daft.) Anyway by now the number had grown from 350 to 62,000 volunteers affected! They said “Each of the Trust’s 62,000 volunteers, would be required to wear a compulsory same-sex rainbow badge.” So many errors, so little fact. I wonder if the editor has a sign in his office saying “Don’t get confused by facts” or “If in  doubt bend the facts to suit the message”?


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