223) Epogen Aneurysms Anyone?

February 28, 2008

El Milagro: I’m here on time again! Meet Jennifer the Dietician on my way in and she concernedly reports that my phosphorous is high again (6.2… and 3.5 to 5.5 is normal) and asks if I have been to Laredo. I say, “No… but, I was in Michigan last weekend.” I add that its probably the fault of “on the road” food, and she nods that home cooking is always better… and, then adds that my blood count is lower too, and they are going to give me 6600 units of epogen ("more than you've ever had before"), which I hallucinate is enough to boil my red blood cells and give me multiple aneurisms in my brain and lungs… so, I just roll my eyes at her, say I’ll do better on my diet, fold up the report she gives me, and slink off to my chair.

Rosie the Tech comes to cannulate me and set up my machine. I bring up Kim the Nurse’s pregnancy… a safe topic that is not about my blood boiling brain explosions. “Wow, that girl is getting BIG” I throw out. “Yeah. She looks like she gonna explode!” replies Rosie, wide-eyed. And then she adds, “they’re gonna do a caesarian section this time…” and I wonder what we can talk about now…

Celeste the Nurse comes up to do my nursing eval and is unusually friendly and I wonder if Ron the Boss Nurse is working with her ‘bedside manner’. Later I call Ron over to explain to me my epogen increase. He reports that 6600 units (they call ‘em units because the come in little vials that aren’t exactly any exact amount, about 1.1 cc’s I think he says) and my mind is picturing 6 thousand 6 hundred little vials rolling around in a box and the nurses chasing them around to fill a syringe… and then Ron complicates my visual image even more by saying that actually a dose is 3300 so I get 2 doses. I decide to try another question, so I ask about how it works. Ron is happy to share that epogen stimulates red blood cell production and it also helps the red blood cells live longer. I fantasize that that is before they blow up in my brain. Then Ron actually makes me feel better when he says, confidentially, that I really am not getting that much… some patients get 20,000 units! We should all be wearing helmets when their brains explode! I thank Ron for explaining all that to me, and turn to pay attention to NPR. I am feeling better just knowing that other people get way more of this dangerous, killer drug than I do.

Notes: In at 76.9 and out at 74.3 Kgs.
‘Epogen’ retrieved online from Drugs.Com, http://www.drugs.com/epogen.html
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February 29, 2008

While watching the ABC news I went online to answer a survey about whether or not I agree that adopted people should have the right to know about their birth parents... and found the ABC Discussion Board... and then found this discussion topic:

Paying for Kidneys: What do you think?
More than 5,000 Americans die each year waiting for a kidney. One prominent surgeon has a radical solution to the organ shortage: Pay for them. The president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons proposes offering $60,000 or more to people willing to give up one kidney. Most surgeons are appalled at the idea. What do you think? Is this the marketplace at work, or an ethical nightmare?

What I Think: “As a person who is on dialysis and waiting for a kidney now for a couple years, I think it would be GREAT for the government to pay people to give up a kidney for use by someone who needs one. This practice is already going on in third world countries for much less money, and at the expense of people who have much less sophisticated medical care to take care of any crises. Those countries see the United States' as coming in and harvesting kidneys and that practice probably doesn't improve our reputation world-wide. The idea of harvesting kidneys in our own country keeps the money here, helps out people who may need money to buy back their mortgages, and supports the American brother-help American brother idea. As for the ethical-moral questions, those should be left up to individuals who have these kind of choices in front of them. Most of the organized religions have already made statements supporting the giving of organs. Many of the patients awaiting kidneys will take the organ now and wrestle with their religion, if needed, later.

Now, some people might say that paying for an organ is just not right... but, trust me... when it is your medical situation and you find yourself wasting away in dialyland, you make choices that keep you on the planet. I say harvesting and paying for kidneys is a win-win proposition for people who need a kidney and for people who could use a fairly safe 60 K. austinjak

Notes: Posted 2/29/08 on ABC News’ Discussions, available online at http://forums.abcnews.go.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?folderId=7&listMode=13&nav=messages&webtag=

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