Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update on Jimmie

Just to let you know - we’re running the alphabet on doctors again.  Last week it was the hematologist (to check why Jimmie's anemia was not improving).  Yesterday it was an endocrinologist.  Between them they have taken so much blood Jimmie is bound to be running low on it, not good for someone already anemic.  But they had a new word for us to learn – hypercalcemia.  That just means recently Jimmie started having too much calcium in his blood.  Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron in the blood, which is probably why the super doses of iron Jimmie has been taking for weeks has not phased his hemoglobin levels.  But I still didn’t understand what all the alarm was last week – the doctor actually called it an emergency to get the calcium level down.  The doctor yesterday explained that high calcium can also cause several other problems, including brain fog, stroke and starting by level 13, even coma.  Jimmie was at 12 last Wednesday.  But last Friday’s infusion treatment worked and Monday he was back down to 9.3, normal range.

The doctor yesterday explained that the only 2 common causes of high calcium are: 
1.  A short list of cancers or
2. A tumor in a parathyroid gland. 
The hematologist is also an oncologist so he is focused on cancer and is running a whole panel of tests to check for that.  But from everything I’ve read online the last few days it is much more likely that the problem will be Jimmie’s parathyroid gland - and they are checking on that as well.  Parathyroidism is the most typical cause of hypercalcemia, plus on the rather short list of factors that increase the risk of getting parathyroidism is radiated iodine treatments used for thyroid cancer.  Jimmie has had that twice and the first was a larger than normal dose in 2008.   If this is the cause of the high calcium level the only treatment is surgery to remove the offending gland or glands.  (Everybody has 4)  We are scheduled to return to the hematologist on Friday to get test results so hopefully he will have some answers then.

We continue to need your prayers.

- Linda

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