Bethany gets her blood tested at least twice a week, and yesterday she had another blood test. The doctor from the Lab called to tell us that the lab tests she had yesterday were more stable than the tests she had done in the hospital.
I don’t have access to yesterday’s numbers, but the last four columns in the chart below were all taken during her hospital stay last week. (Click on the chart for a bigger view, and click your “back” button to return to this article.)
The numbers in red represent “critical lows”. She’s down there in all three counts: hemoglobin, white blood cells, and platelets. It’s good that she’s “stabilized” from this. There’s another good thing: Her LDH level is down to 340. As recently as September, her LDH level was 621. As one nurse told us, “That’s the disease process”.
It was a day of mixed emotions at the hospital yesterday. Beth said that the bone marrow biopsy was “the best ever” – essentially pain-free and she doesn’t remember a thing. The “conscious sedation” apparently knocked her out instantly.
On the down side, Beth’s hemoglobin numbers continue to fall – she fell below the magical 8.5 level, and she needed to get a couple more blood transfusions. If you’ve been reading at all, you know we’ve been keeping a pretty close watch on the “blood charts”, and there was a new number yesterday: LDH.
LDH stands for lactate dehydrogenase and the LDH test [oddly enough] measures the amount of LDH in the blood. Beth’s number was 621, and the normal range indicated on the lab test was 100-216. We didn’t recall seeing that number before, and quite naturally, we were alarmed.
“What does that mean?” we asked the nurse.
Immediately she said, “that’s the disease process”. And she frequently works with transplant patients, and so she knows what she’s talking about.
According to the NIH link, above, it could indicate many things, including “new abnormal tissue formation (usually cancer)” or “tissue death”. None of the things it indicates seems to be good.
She had been kind enough to get this chart for her in the first place (I ask everyone I can about getting these charts), and she was also kind enough to get us some additional information on it. We emailed Dr. Rossetti, and he said, “The LDH is somewhat non-specific. It could mean recovery after the last cycle or could suggest disease. The [information from the bone] marrow [biopsy today] will indeed give us the answer.” So we will know something more definite when we get the results from the biopsy.
Now, when we got home, we went back and looked at some past blood charts, and that number had been measured, during her first stay at West Penn, back in June. The number at the time was 549. So, given that she has leukemia, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary that this number would be so high. What is still a bit distressing is that it seems to be going the wrong way.