Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Declining Numbers At An Even Rate

Bonus points for knowing the song reference without using the interweb.

Before I get to the numbers, let me get this off my chest (literally and figuratively). I HATE TAPE!  I mean the surgical/medical kind.  Apparently, though, nurses and phlebotomists get AIG-type bonuses tied to the number of rolls of tape they use per year.  At my last blood draw, the lab tech used three five-inch strips of tape on my forearm: one strip to hold the tiny wad of gauze in place and the other two to hold down the first.  In the hospital, the nurses taped down the i.v. line to withstand a category 5 hurricane. And when I'm on the chemo pump, the needle going into the port is secured to my chest with a rectangular 3M Tegaderm bandage (duct tape relabeled for medical use)  that is then held in place by, guess what, more freakin' tape.  It's no surprise that now, four weeks out of the hospital, I'm still finding sticky bits of tape adhesive on my skin.

Why am I complaining about this?  Because I have hair on my arms and chest (and you wonder why I need more percocet).  Now I'm not one of these metrosexual guys who shave their bodies, but when I start chemo again, I'll have to shave my chest to minimize the tape damage.

OK. Rant Over.

The aforementioned blood draw was at my most recent visit to the oncologist.  In addition to the usual blood counts, they tested my carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level.  CEA is a protein that is present in very low levels in healthy people (5 ng/ml or lower is considered normal).  In colorectal and other cancers, CEA levels are elevated.  So physicians use these numbers to gauge how well the treatment is working.  Here are my CEA scores since this thing started:

Pre-chemo/radiation (August 09) - 64
Post chemo-radiation (October 09) - 12.9
Pre-operative (December 09) - 2.5
Post-operative (February 10) - 1.2

So I've been back in the normal range since December.  This confirms the results from the CT and PET scans.  Did I mention how much tape the radiology techs used for the i.v. lines?


  1. Tape it up, tape it up
    Cancer, gonna shut you down!!

    (Okay, I peeked at the interweb. But I knew the song once I read the lyrics.)

  2. SO the CEA score is like golf, keep it low. What the heck is interweb? Or is this just a fancy name for internet.