Unexpected Potassium Check

posted in: Cancer 0

It’s time for another hospital check-up. It’s amazing how often they feature on the calendar. Even though recent results have all been going in the right direction it’s hard to sit yet again in the off white corridor contemplating all the nervous faces around us. Some people attempt semi-impossible good humoured small talk while others cling tightly to coffee cups and nervous half smiles. In the midst of their own very private hardship people try to keep it together, partly for themselves, partly for everyone else. If we all fall apart crying – for ourselves, our loved ones, everyone else in that nervous corridor – it will make a tense situation so much worse.

Fortunately, although no-one would wish to be at this clinic, being in this corridor means that there is treatment, that there is hope. I think we all gain encouragement from seeing people getting on with living even though they have cancer and when someone comes out of a consulting room quietly (or less quietly!) punching the air in triumph at their latest results, everyone’s spirits lift.

Today our spirits are lurking more towards our boots. We’ve been waiting for an hour and a half because the docs wanted another blood test – to check potassium levels. That doesn’t sound great but frankly we have no idea. I Google. Google says it’s to check how the kidneys are doing – if they can’t excrete well it will increase the level of potassium in the blood.

Husband is called in to see the doc. I nervously grab my pen and paper and we head in. Apparently the potassium levels on the last blood test were ‘a little high’, which is why they wanted to check today. The good news is that today the levels are normal so there’s no evidence of anything of concern going on in the kidneys. Apparently the earlier higher potassium reading may be something to do with the way in which the blood from the last test was transported. Since it takes a week or so for the paraprotein test to be done, Husband has his blood taken at our GP clinic 10 days before his hospital appointment. It may be that the blood was shaken a bit in transit.

The rest of the results are also really encouraging: red cells at 14.2, platelets at 377, white cells at 6. “Fine, no problems, no bother”, declares Dr Dry Humour a little too nonchalantly. He doesn’t understand the need to punch the air and do a Snoopy happy dance when the numbers are good. We restrain ourselves from any outward sign of celebration in the consulting room but the nurses smile knowingly and approvingly at our bouncy steps as we head back down the corridor.

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