The last half a year I have been talking to several doctors about white blood cells and my lowered gamma globulins. Because of my vasculitis disease and chemo-suppressed immune system, my rheumatologist wanted to make sure that I didn’t need a transfusion to bring up the gamma globulin levels.
The gamma globulins are part of the immune system. And believe me, I have a hard time trying to say it. Of course this new concern meant that I needed to see an immunologist. The Encarta dictionary defines immunology as the study of the immune system: the scientific study of the way the immune system works in the body, including allergies, resistance to disease, and acceptance or rejection of foreign tissue.
It also means that I went to get a lot of blood labs done after I had a flu shot, H1N1 shot, and pneumonia shot. After a lot of discussion of what I needed to do to keep my immune system in balance, my immunologist (Dr. Shapiro) sent me to a top immunologist (Dr. Goetzl), who was practicing in UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) Medical Center.
Although the trip to get to this place was long and arduous, and although the medical center was in the middle of downtown San Francisco, I did have an enjoyable time with Dr. Goetzl. I will not say the same to the strange up and down, one-way streets that had lanes that went kitty-corner to other streets. Even with a map we got lost at least once.
I will be nice and say the scenery was beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing the San Francisco bridge. It brought back memories of my early childhood when we lived near Oakland and would used to go to downtown San Francisco to ride the trolleys and eat the food.
There were a few interesting things that I learned about from Dr. Goetzl other than our scientists know very little about the immune system. One of the things I learned was that if you have a compromised immune system, if you try to bring it back, it might bring back the auto-immune disease. Also because I have a compromised immune system, I will always deal with tiredness and fatigue caused by an overworked immune system.
He did mention that a person with auto-immune disease should take extra vitamins because it is hard to absorb nutrients. Once again he pointed to the cytotoxic drugs that are used to keep the disease under control.
It was a great visit. Thankfully I didn’t need to do any more blood tests, plus if I ever need to talk to an immunologist again, I pick him. He takes some complex subjects and is able to tell it in laymen terms. He didn’t talk down to me. Our conversation was person to person instead of doctor to patient. I like that.
So the point is no more transfusions– yet.