Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blood Work Part 2

So, back in May I decided to take my oncologist's advice and go to our local clinic and see what they thought about my side effects and to have my cholesterol checked since I had read that Letrozole can cause a big increase. 

The doctor and I discussed my feet/legs/hands.  She decided that we would do all sorts of blood tests and check for diabetes, thyroid problems, cholesterol, etc. etc. etc.  It was on Memorial Day so they could not draw the blood that day so I came back the next day.  Once again it took three sticks before they could get a needle in and they ended up using that big blue vein (artery?) on the inside of my wrist.  It hurt like the dickens but they got the four big vials that we needed.

Called to get my results the next week and we went over all of the results.  The good news was that almost all of the tests came back great.  My LDL (bad) cholesterol came back high at 133 (should be 99 or lower) but my HDL (good) cholesterol was over 59 which is great.  My C-Reactive Protein reading shoes a  high risk for future cardiovascular event.  And then I had a severe vitamin D deficiency.  She suggested I come in and talk to the doctor.

I right away started an internet search on the vitamin D deficiency and right away found a 2009 study that says that women who had breast cancer and take Letrozole often have a vitamin D deficiency and that it can cause debilitating pain in the hands.  I printed the study and mentally cussed out my oncologist for not letting me know this when I explained the problems I was having.  It had gotten bad enough that I thought I would not be able to do my job in the near future and there was such an easy fix.  I took the printout to my appointment and the doctor I met with had found the same study.  It said that 16 weeks of taking 50,000 IUs of vitamin D would get levels up into the 60s and that most women then no longer had problems with their hands.  I am 12 weeks into take the pills and feel so much better.

As far as the other results, the lady I met with actually has a background as a cardiologist physicians assistant and when she listened to my heart, she heard the heart murmur I have always had.  She recommended that with the murmur and the results above that I should see a cardiologist for an echo cardiogram to see if chemo caused any heart damage or if there are any other problems from Letrozole.  I had my first visit a month or so ago and he could also hear the murmur but he said that it was more of an extra sound instead of a murmur, he did an EKG on that visit and said that it looked good but with heart disease history in my family, history of chemo, the murmur, the high C-reactive Protein reading, and the Letrozole; he suggested I come back for a echo cardiogram and a stress test.  Work, of course, has been super busy since then so I am finally getting in for those tests tomorrow.  I won't hear the results for a couple of weeks but we will at least get a good feel for how my cardiovascular system is working right now and will have a baseline for the future. 

I am very proud of myself for finally taking my health into my own hands.  It has been too easy to just show up when and where they tell me, never ask questions, never argue, and always assume that they are doing everything they can.  Tomorrow night, I let you know how the cardiologist visit goes and will detail what I learned from my visit to the Scottsdale Mayo Clinic.

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