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Hepatitis C Treatment: My Kingdom for Some Red Blood Cells

[captionpix imgsrc=”http://lucindaporterrn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/arms.jpg” captiontext=”Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /FreeDigitalPhotos.net”] Look, I really don’t want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you’re alive, you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, you’ve got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death.

–  Mel Brooks

Hepatitis C treatment involves a lot of flapping my arms these days. My energy level is slipping, probably from diminishing red blood cells. Here is a mini-science lesson: When blood cells are forming in the bone marrow (a constant and miraculous event, I think), ribavirin causes some of the red ones to burst. If the cells dip below normal, this is called hemolytic anemia. Fortunately, this is a gradual process and although we need red blood cells, we can tolerate a certain amount of this before it is life-threatening.

Hemoglobin attaches to the red blood cells which transports oxygen to every cell in our body. If you have fewer red blood cells, the result is you may feel tired, short of breath on exertion, and perhaps dizzy. (Interferon also does this to a lesser extent, but tends to lower white blood cells and platelets).

Another miraculous occurrence is the body is incredibly wise, and rather than let you injure your vital organs, it will circulate oxygen to the main organs, thus your arms and hands may feel tingling from time to time. Also, your body will become weak, dizzy or cause you to pass out before it will let you use the oxygen it needs for your heart and brain.

Note: this type of anemia is not caused by low iron. Never take iron supplementation unless medically advised, as too much iron may harm the liver. If you don’t have enough red blood cells, and you take too much iron, the iron will have nowhere to go and the liver will store it.

Although I am a bit tired, where I really notice reduced oxygenation is during my Jazzercise class. Rather than dance, I mostly flap my arms and think about Mel Brooks. It’s better than no exercise, and I get a good laugh out of it.

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