On July 25th, 2005 I called my internist to see if they could squeeze me in that day. It was a Monday, and the day before I had experienced some odd blurred vision and a headache, along with just generally feeling out of shape for the last month or so. They told me that they couldn’t move up the general checkup appointment I had for the following week – but they could fit me in at 2:15 pm just to see about what had happened over the weekend. It was actually the first time I had ever met this doctor, so he had little to go off of as far as my medical history went. Despite that, he was concerned enough with my pale appearance (including almost white lips) and random leg bruises (that I couldn’t recall getting) to order a set of blood tests. I didn’t think much of it at the time, mostly expecting this to result in him telling me to get more sleep or eat more vegetables.

He called me that night with the test results, at around 7:30 pm. I was on my way to the grocery store to do some shopping. He told me that my blood levels (white blood cell, red blood cell, and platelet) were critically low, and that I would need to be admitted into the hospital that night for further testing. A little worried at this point, I followed his orders and had my girlfriend drive me to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. The night doctor ran through the gamut of what could be causing my abnormally low blood counts – stressing that we needed further testing before coming to any conclusions. Very early the next morning, at about 6 or 7 am, I was awakened by a new doctor – an oncologist/hematologist named Dr. Mary Klix. She introduced herself, and then jumped right into a conversation about Leukemia treatments. That scared me. I stopped her and asked her if she was telling me I had Leukemia? Like the previous doctor she wouldn't say for sure, but she was about 90% sure. Further tests, including a bone marrow biopsy, were necessary, she said.

The bone marrow biopsy was done on Wednesday morning. It's technically called an “aspiration” which is just a fancy way of saying that they jammed a mean looking syringe into my hip and sucked out a marrow sample. I wouldn't say that the procedure hurt, but it definitely felt weird. It's not often that you feel pressure from inside your iliac crest.

Thursday afternoon the results came back. I did not have Leukemia. I had Aplastic Anemia. As I write this, that diagnosis was 17 days ago. I spent 10 days in the hospital, 4 of which were devoted to my chemotherapy – ATG (Antithymocyte Globulin). Now I’m back at my apartment, continuing drug therapy (Methylprednisolone and Cyclosporine) and returning to the hospital’s cancer center several times a week for blood tests and transfusions as needed. How much more do I have to go? Weeks? Months? Years? Will this treatment need to be repeated? What about transplant? These are only a few of the questions I don’t have answers for. I hope that with time I will find the answers to some of these questions, and learn to not worry so much about the ones I can't answer.

UPDATE 3/17/2010: I now have a copy of my medical records. These are results from my first CBC & Platelets upon admittance to SJMMC. Click image to enlarge it.