As chemotherapy and its immediate aftermath (colds, eye styes, holidays…) have gradually faded into a bad memory, I have felt like a coiled spring. Last year at this time the Wilderness Basics Class had started, and I was excited and gung-ho to get out there with my new friends and classmates. A few months later I was sidelined by all this bullshit. Now I’m back and rearing to go.
But then my body caught up with my brain, gasping for breath. My muscles screamed out: “No, we’re not ready yet!” This made me curious about the status of my red blood cell count, and I was looking forward to my next blood test.
Sure, the other blood counts are important, but the RBCs are responsible for delivering oxygen to your muscles. I know this is a vast oversimplification (and may even be completely wrong), but my sense was that if my RBC counts were still below normal, I could blame that for my muscle fatigue. But if my counts were back to normal, it was all on me. Yes, I am aware that the end result is the same, I am not an idiot: either way I need to take it one step at a time, listen to my body, and proceed slowly. But still. I wanted to know.
I had my labs drawn on January 13, and the results are in (no, it didn’t take that long; it just took me this long to write it up). Lo and behold, my RBC count had shot up nicely, but was not yet back to pre-chemo levels, and still below the “target” range for my age/gender. It’s nice to have a possible explanation for my muscle fatigue. Of course I made a little chart of it.
That was almost two weeks ago now. I still have some muscle stiffness when I get up in the morning or get out of the car after my commute, but I’m able to walk up stairs or steep hills without getting too winded. Last weekend I hiked Cowles Mountain* with some friends and it was fine. Thank you, body, for cranking out those red blood cells!
*Interesting to note for my local friends that there was a spur trail off the Barker Way route that overlooked a waterfall. Yes, a real, actual waterfall, with flowing water. In San Diego!! I guess that’s what a little flooding will do…