Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Those crazy lab values

It seems that our lives have revolved around 4 numbers the last few months and it also seems to me, that I haven't fully explained what they all mean and why they are so important to us. When Kate's absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is too low she can't be around other people due to her inability to fight infections that she may come into contact with. When her hemoglobin is too low she has to receive blood transfusions and if her platelets were ever too low she would have to receive transfusions as well. Gratefully, Kate's platelets have never been very low.
So, here are "normal" values and what they mean to us.

While Blood Cells - Normal 5.0-10.0
They fight infection, if too low then she is at increased risk for infection.

Hemoglobin - Normal 12-16
Transports oxygen. If too low she's pale, tired, weak, has a fast heart rate and she gets headaches.

Platlets - Normal 150-450
Helps the blood clot. If low, she has bruising, petechiae and/or bleeding.

ANC - Normal is greater than 1000.
It is the infection fighting power. This is the bottom line number that causes me to hold my breath until I see it each week. Anything less than 1000 and her activities are restricted.

Now you may better understand the number mumbo, jumbo each week. :)

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