My three-legged stool 18 months on

In the past I have mentioned my hypothetical three-legged stool  – the three key numbers that I need to keep an eye on. Well two of the three are heading in the right direction and one is drifting a little in the wrong direction. My platelets (the tiny blood cells that help stop bleeding) have been counted.  They are at 150 compared to the 10 they had dropped to two years ago, and are knocking on the door of being normal (150+). Great. The next leg, my HbA1c figure (I will explain later) was the lowest it has been for about four years at 46mmol/mol. When I went to the doctors  with a cough and came out with diabetes my HbA1c reading was 67. Since then it has been running at an acceptable 45-49 until it went up to the high 60’s when I was on steroids whilst my platelets were being encouraged to climb out of the ditch. So far so good.

The wobble on my three-legged stool is that my PSA (that slightly dodgy indicator of prostate problems) has again risen, to 2.3, which is not a cause for panic but will need to be watched. If it was getting close to 10 then it would be time for intervention – probably another tablet (bicalutamide). My oncologist wants to leave starting that as late as possible since he only has a limited number of weapons in his arsenal. I will have more PSA tests in three and six months and see him again in six months (unless anything goes awry in the meantime).

I recently came across an article about Post-Cancer Fatigue  so now I have an excuse when I doze off after lunch or when watching television (not that the latter is anything new). Unfortunately I find that a combination of a full stomach and  sitting down or relaxing is a pretty potent combination.

Hold on a minute” I hear you say, “you are wandering off into musings on fatigue but you had  promised an explanation – what on earth is HbA1c? Is it something like a ‘Fronted Adverbial’?” Well no. With a bit of effort I can explain what HbA1c is whereas ‘Fronted Adverbials’ appear to be an inexplicable ruse to put children off enjoying English.

HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin. OK so those are a couple of long words so lets take them one at a time. Haemoglobin is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Glycated is when glucose or sugar is attached. So glycated haemoglobin is a way of  identifying average  blood glucose concentration over the life of the blood cell (they don’t live for ever you know) which makes it a key measure for diabetes control. Now that may not be the way an expert would explain it but hopefully you get enough of an idea.

To try the same approach with Fronted Adverbials on the other hand is a bit more of a challenge. I am pretty certain that when I was at school no-one had spotted a Fronted Adverbial, not even in the biology lab. Fronted was not a word in my trusted Concise Oxford Dictionary although with the help of Prof Google I find that the Urban Dictionary says that it means “To confront someone with the intent to embarrass them“. As for adverbial, it is one or more words that modify a sentence or verb and it may also mean having the same function as an adverb. So if I’ve got it right a Fronted Adverbial is a bit like an adverb and might embarrass someone. Does that help? If it does perhaps you could explain it to me. What’s more, unlike a HbA1c reading, I can’t see Fronted Adverbials as being of any use other than to confuse ten year olds who up to that point had been enjoying English as a rich and varied language. Fortunately when my granddaughter was faced with Fronted Adverbials in her homework she didn’t ask me, just went ahead and picked them out before going off to do something more useful and enjoyable.

x gsrMeanwhile it’s less than three weeks to the Great South Run where Toni and Carol will be running to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Another run under their belts last night (head torches on) and three-quarters of the way to their fundraising target, just a bit more to go.

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