Protein, and another blood plasma constitutient, albumin, are what help Emily’s circulatory system retain water (a process called oncotic pressure). Without these, we get the puffiness we’ve all noticed in Emily’s face and extremities that we previously thought was a result of the steroid.
Overall, the doctors seem unconcerned; telling us repeatedly that there’s not a whole lot to do, we’ll wait it out, we just need to watch and see, and eventually the protein levels should right themselves. Nonetheless, anything abnormal makes us uncomfortable.
It’s a given, with all the toxins being pumped into Emily’s body, that some things will be out of whack. And it is likely that the low protein is a result of some of her chemotherapy drugs affecting her liver. However, there are other possibilities, such as a gastroenterology problem that would be a separate issue in and of itself and would require a referral to another hospital, as U.C. Davis does not currently have a gastroenterologist on staff. A urine test is being done to help determine the nature of the protein deficiency and we basically have to do as the doctors say: wait and see.
In the meantime, we did get some good news that Emily seems to be eating the right foods – cheese and chicken nuggets are high in protein and happen to be Emily’s favorites! We also found out that the strict rule against fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t quite as strict as we thought and, with a lot of caution, Emily can still have a little of her favorite fruit: bananas. Otherwise, less fiber was recommended while still giving Emily whatever she desires in order to meet the pickiness her loss of appetite has caused.
Emily’s platelet count was extremely low today and she received a transfusion in order to get her counts up before her next spinal tap tomorrow. Her ANC is also low (30, when it needs to be above 500). Her lab work this morning showed a slight rise in her protein and albumin levels from the results that originally raised concerns last week but they still remain below normal.
Please join us in praising the Lord that today’s news wasn’t a major setback and please pray that Emily’s body finds balance as it deals with the many toxins and upheavals to her system.