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Super-quick medical update 
23rd-Apr-2007 11:41 pm
Misc: brain side view on black
Had an appointment with an ophthalmologist today. The short version is that my eyes are pretty much fine.

I made the appointment (at my PCP’s suggestion) for two reasons. The main one is that for a few months I’ve noticed lots and lots of floaters (and tangled clumps of them, and a few small dark ones which I hadn’t had before). The lesser one is that I had some styes in one eye.

Anyway, the floaters are evidently nothing to worry too much about. The ophthalmologist told me that with age, the vitreous humour (the clear material that forms the bulk of the volume of the eyeball) can detatch from the retina, and that process produces lots of floaters. The floaters eventually settle out and diminish in the visual field, and if the retina isn’t damaged during that process of detatchment, no harm is done. I’m undergoing that process. I’ll go back in a couple of months to make sure no damage to the retina has occurred

For the stye (which seems to be very slowly shrinking on its own anyway), I got a prescription for erythromycin drops.

I’m glad some of my medical questions are easily answered. :-)

Next up, a hematologist to talk to me about my low (but on the edge of the normal range) hematocrit. (Roughly, I think that means or at least correlates with low red blood cell count).
24th-Apr-2007 05:20 am (UTC)
How to measure your hematocrit, by docorion

Take some of your blood, and put it in a tube with some anticoagulant. You don't need to use fancy tubes for this; when I used to do it we used heparin coated capillary tubes with clay in the bottom).

Put the tubes in a centrifuge and spin them moderately fast for about 1 minute. You get a tube with all the red cells packed in the bottom, with plasma on top.

Measure the height of the plasma and the height of the red cells. Hematocrit=red cell height/plasma height x 100, where the units are percent.

A normal hematocrit for a man is somewhere around 42-45; for a woman who is still menstruating, more like 38-42, depending on iron intake. A low hematocrit can mean a bunch of things; poor iron intake or absorption (not likely for you) is most common; chronic blood loss (which is why women have lower hematocrits than men), and bone marrow suppression (usually from medications) are the most common (not in that order). A 'low normal' hematocrit probably means nothing at all.
24th-Apr-2007 11:49 am (UTC)

I don’t have a centrifuge; can I just use my washing machine on “heavy duty”? :-)

My hematocrit’s been in the 37-39% range the times it’s been tested, so just under the normal range for a pink-blooded American male.
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