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castlepatterson Wed Aug 11, 2010 04:56 PM

Waiting for diagnosis
I was called back to discuss the results of some routine blood tests, which the nurse said wasn't anything serious. 10 weeks went by before being able to discuss it with the doctor. I was told my white blood cell count, my red blood cell count, and my platelets were all down. She said it could just be something as simple as stress or an unknown virus at the time of the test or it could mean something is wrong with my bone marrow. She wants to follow the trend for 6 months before making a diagnosis. She sent me for another CBC test. As we parted, she said see you in 2-3 months.

When I looked it up on the internet, I saw no mention of stress causing this. I hope if the counts drop even lower, she would contact me before the 2-3 months. If this is something serious, I don't think a diagnose should be post-poned 6 months. I read a bone marrow biopsy would determine the cause of the low blood counts.

Have you ever heard of waiting 6 months to make a diagnosis? Could it just be stress?

Neil Cuadra Wed Aug 11, 2010 05:30 PM


Your symptoms could match a bone marrow failure disease, and I haven't heard of stress causing all blood lines to be low, but not being a physician I don't know what other explanations there might be. Let's hope it's a combination of causes that are temporary and less serious.

A single blood test can produce warnings about low counts but isn't enough to diagnosis the problem or determine if it's a one-time fluctuation or even a false reading. The next blood test will show if the counts are still low and an explanation is needed.

How low is low? If your blood counts are only slightly below normal, you may be one of those people with naturally low counts. Or your doctor may be taking a conservative approach in case your counts go back up. It may be worrying you, but she may be doing you a favor by watching and waiting.

However, if your counts are very low or you have physical symptoms like being out of breath or bruising, I'd expect the doctor to want you back for a repeat of the blood test fairly soon. A bone marrow biopsy and aspiration would be a logical diagnostic test if your counts are seriously low again. But nobody wants to undergo tests like that if they don't have to.

Marlene Thu Aug 12, 2010 07:36 AM

Those tests results belong to you and you have every right to get copy of them as soon as they come in. I would wait one week from this appointment and then call them if they do not contact you with the results. You do not need to wait 2 -3 months to find out.

When John goes in for his follow-up appointments with his local doctor, they call within two days with the blood tests result. The standard CBC (just blood counts) are done at the time of the visit so we know those before leaving. But anything that needs to be sent out, we always get a call as soon as the doc reviews them.

Like Neil says....stress usually does not cause a drop in all three cell lines. Your doc should have checked your B12, B6, folate, iron and copper levels as well. These nutrients can impact blood production. You don't want any of these to be in the low-normal range especially in the presence of low than normal blood counts.

castlepatterson Sat Aug 14, 2010 08:32 PM

I had the second blood test done on Tuesday, and on Friday the doctor's staff left a mesesage to return their call. This actually makes me nervous, because I wasn't expecting any callbacks. So, I'm assuming the numbers had decreased yet again. I have to return the call on Monday, but I likely won't be able to see the doctor anytime soon, as we go on holidays on Wednesday for 10 days.

Also, the elast time, the numbers weren't that low. I'll definitely ask to write down the numbers next time.

Thanks for the responses.

Marlene Sun Aug 15, 2010 08:50 AM

Just so you know....John's doctor will call with his results no matter what. So a phone call with results does not always mean bad news.

Hope you enjoy your holiday....Marlene

castlepatterson Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:00 PM

I called back and the nurse said, "The doctor wanted to let you know your platelettes are up". I was relieved it was good news so I said thank you and hung up. I didn't think to ask about the white or red blood cells or to ask for any actual numbers.

Marlene Wed Aug 18, 2010 07:43 AM

That't good that you know this, you can call back for the rest of the info without the added stress of not knowing. You may want to write down your questions/requests and have them handy during the call. Really helps to get the most of out the call or any doctor's appointment. Make sure you put your top three, most important concerns/questions first. Sometimes that's about all you get through in one session and you want to hit the top ones.

Good luck

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