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I am sharing with you my journey to recovery from COVID-19. In my previous blog, I talked about the symptoms I experienced and home treatments I did to alleviate the malady caused by this deadly infection.
I am on the process of returning to health wherein I still do all the treatments for myself. I am basically the doctor, nurse, nutritionist on my own — so to speak. I was not confined in a hospital because there is simply no room for me there. The whole province/state where I live are short of healthcare staffs particularly nurses, so it was (and still is) impossible to get a proper care or monitoring in the hospital right now.
Why not nurse myself at the comfort of my home, right? I felt like I had no choice but to deal with the whole situation all by myself. I live alone with my pup, so the least I can do to survive is to do something and just deal with this shi*. So I did and I am proud to say that I made it. It was really awful, but I learned so much from this experience.
I did my laboratory tests on September 2021 and here is the result:
1) CHEST X-RAY
Chest X-ray is also know as chest radiograph. It uses a minimal amount of radiation to capture an image of a person’s chest. This is the most common laboratory test that healthcare providers use to diagnose and treat conditions like pneumonia, fractures, among other abnormalities of the heart, lungs, bones, and the near structures. It is a quick, painless, and non-invasive procedure.
This may look confusing and incomprehensible to many of us but do not worry because there are radiologists (medical specialists) who can read or explain what it is that you have on the X-ray result. If you simply look at the findings, you will probably still end up dumbstruck because of the terminologies. Asking an expert can make you decipher that image because they will explain it to you in layman’s terms.
As you can see on the findings and remarks from my X-ray result, I have normal chest, so I am jubilant to know about it. I paid about 240 PHP or $4-5 for my X-ray test.
In my case though, I did not have a checkup nor see a doctor for the interpretation of my lab tests. Since I am a nurse by profession, my background in healthcare did come in handy with me. Also, I did some research and asked my friends (who happened to be brilliant nurses), so it was a huge help in my part. We can pretty much research nearly everything on the web, so let us take advantage with the advanced technology we have; use it to educate ourselves and get the information we need in just a matter of few clicks.
Even though you have no one to ask about your lab tests, you can still find answers on Google or YouTube (for example). There is a ton of resources out there (reliable ones).
2) CBC (COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT)
Complete Blood Count is also known as Full Blood Count. It is a set of medical diagnostic tests with vital information about the cells of an individual’s blood. The CBC shows the counts or number of RBC (red blood cells), WBC (white blood cells), platelets, and the concentration of hemoglobin and hematocrit.
CBC is done in a variety of purposes, and primarily, the objective is to assess and analyze a person’s overall health. For instance, a CBC from a patient can help a healthcare provider diagnose whether or not the person has a certain type of disease, or infection.
The result of my CBC is something I kind of anticipated, and upon going to the diagnostic center, I was a bit anxious of the findings since COVID-19 is a fatal illness that killed millions of people worldwide. I was hopeful not to have problems or deficiencies in my blood but I was simply not exempted with the repercussions of this viral disease.
Though the result of my CBC is not totally alarming, I try to be as cautious as possible. It can have a devastating effect in my overall health if it is taken for granted. So I feel the need to research on how to normalize my RBC (red blood cells), hematocrit, and eosinophils. I read some useful and reliable information about it on the internet, and now I am more careful of what I eat, take supplements, medicate, exercise, and all the stuff that can be beneficial for my recuperation.
I paid about 140 PHP or $2-3 for my CBC test.
WBC (White Blood Cell)
WBCs are a type of blood that are made in the bone marrow of every human being. WBCs are precious part of our immune system since they combat infection. The considered normal count for WBC is 4,000 – 10,000 per microliter of blood.
By looking at the result, you will see that my WBC is 4,100 which is within the normal range. Thank goodness!
If a person’s WBC is high, it can be an indicator that there is an infection, inflammation, or immune system disorder in the body, among others. So for instance, a COVID patient’s WBC count will most likely have a high findings due to the fact that there is infection going on in the system. WBCs help fight off viruses, infection, or diseases in our body (just like antibodies.) Note: antibodies or special proteins are the ones produced by specialized white blood cells.
On the contrary, when someone’s WBC is below normal or less than 4,000 per microliter, it means that the person has certain conditions: lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune diseases: a condition wherein your own body’s immune system is attacking or destroying your tissues and organs), side effect of a cancer treatment, and a deficiency in vitamins, among other things. Therefore, it is very important to seek medical help: go to a hospital for checkup or do online consultation, research about your symptoms, tell your trusted friends and family. There is so much you can do to prevent the exacerbation of your current condition. Do not be afraid to ask and seek advice. Prevention is better than cure!
RBC (Red Blood Cell)
Red blood cells are the most common blood cells in the body. The normal value of RBC for every individual varies on age and gender. RBCs are hardworking blood cells. They transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our system, and during their return trip, they carry carbon dioxide back to our lungs for us to breathe out. Being deficient or very high in RBCs can cause serious complications, so it is vital to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Adult Female: 4.2 – 5.4 million red blood cells per microliter (mcL) of blood
Adult Male: 4.7 – 6.10 million red blood cells per microliter (mcL) of blood
Pedia (child) Female: 4.0 – 5.1 million red blood cells per microliter (mcL) of blood
Pedia (child) Male: 4.0 – 5.3 million red blood cells per microliter (mcL) of blood
The result of my CBC shows that my RBC count is significantly lower than normal for an adult female. My RBC is 3.6 compared to normal which ranges from 4.2 – 5.4.
I was upset when I found out about it, so I hurriedly looked up some information to educate myself.
Low RBCs can mean that someone is anemic or has anemia. Like me for example, I have not been diagnosed but I am quite certain that I am anemic. My symptoms are fatigue, cold hands and feet, lightheadedness, and headache. I even suspected that I already have low RBCs even prior to my COVID infection. But please do not be like me who guesses about her condition. Anemia is a common diagnosis for people who have abnormal RBC count, and there are many different types of them. It is crucial to know whether or not you are anemic and even more so the type of anemia you have. Contact a healthcare provider and undergo some tests if possible — it is better that way and you will have a piece of mind.
Since my RBC count is below the normal range, here’s what I did so far:
-I religiously take my vitamin C, iron, and folic acid supplements. (There are many vitamins or multivitamins that you can choose from in your nearest pharmacy which are over-the-counter. You might also need vitamin B1, B2, B6, and B12. If you have no clue about all these, then consult your doctor.)
-I eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and fruits. No meat coz I am vegan.
-I exercise for about 30 minutes to 1 hour a day. Well sometimes just 15-minute yoga or 5-minute plank.
-I stopped drinking caffeinated and soft drinks.
NOTE: There are other ways you can stabilize your RBC count and regain your overall health — you just have to make some time and effort figuring out what is best for you.
Hemoglobin or Hgb are proteins found in red blood cells and just like RBCs, hemoglobin also carries oxygen. These two work hand in hand to transport and distribute oxygen to the tissues of the body. Though RBCs and hemoglobin work together, they are not exactly equivalent.
If you are someone who has no background in healthcare, science or whatnot, you probably are not interested to know about these things (chuckle.)
”The tip for not getting confused with RBC and hemoglobin is that you should always bear in your mind that hemoglobin is just a component of RBC. RBC has many components and the major one is the hemoglobin. The next time you encounter these two terms, always remember that these two things cooperate with each other in transporting the oxygen from the lungs to the other tissues in the body, and after transporting the oxygen, they gather carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Try to compare it to this situation: say there is a delivery pizza boy with a motorcycle. The motorcycle serves as the RBC, the pizza boy will be the hemoglobin, and the pizza itself is the oxygen.” -Differencebetween.net
The normal value of hemoglobin is:
Female: 12 – 15 grams per deciliter (gm/dL)
Male: 14 – 17 grams per deciliter (gm/dL)
This is part of the complete blood count test, and when hematocrit is assessed, it is mainly to gauge the volume or proportion of a person’s blood. It means that knowing your hematocrit level will determine how much volume of red blood cells are running through your blood.
The normal value is:
Female: 38 – 48 %
Male: 40 – 50 %
Neutrophils, Lymphocytes, Monocytes
These three cells are found in the blood circulation and they play an important role in destroying the viruses, bacteria, or foreign invaders in the body. Though they work together to make sure you survive an infection or illness, they are not exactly the same.
The normal values:
Neutrophils: 45 – 65 %
Lymphocytes: 20 – 35 %
Monocytes: 2 – 9 %
If any of these blood cells are high or low, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that best suits your needs.
Just like other blood cells, eosinophils are discovered through blood testing. These are specific type of white blood cells that play a vital role in humans’ immune system. These special WBCs shield the body from parasitic infections, allergens, and foreign substances.
Normal eosinophils count is 0 – 6 %.
On my CBC result, my eosinophils appears to be above normal and it can be due to something as simple as nasal allergy or more pressing conditions like cancer. Since I have not consulted my physician yet about the results of my lab test, I can only hope that the abnormalities in some of my blood cells are due to the past infection I had (COVID-19) and everything will be okay before long.
Surely when this crisis slows down, I will be up for checkup with my doctor to ensure that my overall health is back to perfection.
Now, when eosinophils are low in number, it does not necessarily mean you have to panic. The good news is that in most cases when eosinophils are low, you are not in trouble since other parts of your immune system (like tissues, organs, other blood cells, and special proteins) serve us the compensatory mechanism when eosinophils are failing or irregular. Even so, it would still be best to ask professional advice to better understand what may be causing the high or low eosinophils.
Thrombocytes or most commonly known as platelets are important component of blood. These tiny and colorless blood cells are responsible for forming clots to help stop bleeding or further complications when a person (for example) is experiencing an injury. So imagine someone who is bleeding due to a head injury — without having sufficient platelets in the body, the person will die in a matter of seconds. Platelets are like paramedics: if they do not arrive fast enough to save the dying person, someone will die.
The normal platelet count is 150,000 – 450,000 per microliter of blood.
3) Antibody Test
This test is also called a serology test. Antibody test is done to see if a person has past infection (for instance COVID-19) or otherwise. This test uses a person’s blood to check if there are antibodies found in the body.
When we say antibodies, we are referring to special proteins created by our immune system. Antibodies are the ones helping our body to fight against viruses. These antibodies (or heroes of our body) are developed after we get a vaccine or when we had a history of infection. So if someone is vaccinated (partially or fully), he will develop antibodies in his body to fight off infections. Also, if someone was infected of a virus like COVID-19, he would develop antibodies or a certain degree of immunity to defend his self against viruses or diseases.
My understanding is that the RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests are done to detect if a person is COVID-19 positive at the present time whereas the Antibody Test is to find out whether a person has past infection or not. So RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test are for PRESENT infection. Antibody test is for PAST infection.
When I went to a center for X-ray and CBC, I was not considering to undergo an Antibody Test. I have heard of it but did not bother to really know what it is for, so when I was interviewed by a phlebotomist (a healthcare staff that draws blood), she suggested the antibody test for me — so I did. It costs around 1.050 PHP or $21.
I was told that there are two types of this test: qualitative and quantitative. Since I had no idea about these two, I asked for advice which one should I choose. I picked the quantitative antibody testing because according to them (staffs in the lab tests), it provides a more definitive answer with regards to my body’s immune response to the infection.
On the interpretation of my antibody test, I am positive for IgG and IgM antibodies against SARS-CoV2 which means that I was infected with coronavirus or has past infection. So since there are antibodies present on my system, it is an indicator that my immune system is fighting off the infection. It kind of makes sense because my body is now getting better, and most of the symptoms subsided.
The vague part of this test is that, positive result does not necessarily mean I still have the virus in my body or I am capable of transmitting the infection to other people. I tested negative when I did the rapid antigen test, so I am wishful that the result is correct, and I am no longer contagious.
Whether you do all these tests or not, it won’t be beneficial for you if you do not make an extra effort to educate yourself in knowing what is it for, why you have those findings, and how you can go about it.
My situation is unique to me (in some way) because I am a nurse, and I have a solid support system (like nurse friends) who are there to answer my questions. So if you are caught up in a situation where there is no one to confide with, it is best to seek medical help. You can see a doctor for checkup and eventually show him/her your laboratory results.