In November 2016, John made an appointment with his doctor to discuss some sinus issues he was having. Nothing he hadn’t dealt with in the past. They ran some routine blood tests on him and called him hours later to let him know he needed to check himself into the ER immediately. A complete blood count (CBC) test showed that his white blood cell count was excessively high, while his hemoglobin was dangerously low. Sinus congestion turned out to be the least of his issues. Despite the fact that John and Gloria had plans for the weekend to celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary, they checked into the ER for additional tests and a blood transfusion.
Generally a low hemoglobin level can indicate an ongoing internal bleed, so that was the original assumption. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. Staff was dumbfounded as to how John was even still standing with a hemoglobin so low. Hemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. John’s was nearly a third of what is normal for a man. The fact that he was able to operate at this level is a pure testament to what the human body can do and how it adjusts over time to compensate when something is off. Plus it didn’t hurt that he has tough, old Finlander blood from the Iron Range.
It took several more weeks of tests to have a better idea of what was going on. John eventually was diagnosed with a combination of two rare blood disorders. Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and Myeloproliferative Disorder.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myelodysplastic_syndromehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myeloproliferative_neoplasm
There is a problem with the formation of cells in his bone marrow and these disorders, if not controlled, can lead to Leukemia. There is no clear cut treatment for this, and the fact that he has two different disorders going on simultaneously has made things even more confusing for his medical team. Over the past several months, John has received various types of chemotherapy to try and control the white blood count and dozens of blood transfusions to maintain his hemoglobin. The chemo will hopefully send the disorder into remission, but it is not a cure. Once his system has been wiped out by the chemo and his cells stop blasting, he will be eligible for a blood and marrow transplant (BMT). The BMT (not to be confused with the delicious Subway sandwich) will be done at the Mayo in Rochester. He will be matched with a donor of the same tissue type through the https://bethematch.org/
national bone marrow registry. This requires a three month stay in Rochester and doesn’t come without it’s own risks, but John has survived quite the journey already and has a little ways to go yet before we can take that BMT step. Thoughts, prayers, well wishes, good vibes, and overall support from whatever it is you subscribe to are welcomed and appreciated. We will keep you all updated with John’s journey.
If you would like to donate to the Hendrickson family, as they will incur hardship over the next several months, a GoFundMe has been set up to support the Hendrickson Family, and all contributions will go directly to them. The link has been provided at the top of the page. Thank you all for your support.