I went to get my three months bloodwork done earlier this week. The last time I was there, the lab company had just been bought by a bigger company, so they were in the process of changing some things around. This time, before she did my bloodwork, she asked if I’d like to be able to view my results online. I’d heard a few months ago on the news that this was something some labs were offering now, and I thought it was kind of neat, so I said sure. She gave me a pamphlet with information about the service and a number that I could enter on the website to sign up.
The sign up process involved entering the number on the pamphlet, my name, address, birthdate, and health card number (which are all things they would have on file anyway, so I guess that’s just to confirm I am who I say I am). They also required an email address, password, and three security questions. I quite liked that they allowed you to make up your own questions, which most sites don’t seem to do. They require you to answer one of the security questions each time you log in. They also have you provide a secret phrase that they’ll put in all emails they send you so that you know the email is coming from them. This might not be all that interesting to normal people, but I’m a programmer, so I found the process interesting. I can’t think of any other sign up processes I’ve gone through that were that in-depth, so you know this is serious business. It’s a little frustrating to have to enter all that stuff, especially answering a security question every time you log in, but keeping this kind of information secure is very important.
Once I logged in, I could access my bloodwork report. It was two pages long and contained a bunch of abbreviations, medical terms, and numbers. The general layout was something like this:
|Test||My Result||Normal Range||Flag|
|ABC||0.5||1.0 – 5.0||low|
|DEF||5.0||2.5 – 3.0||high|
|GHI||30||10 – 40|
After the initial confusion, it’s actually not that scary. Of course, I know nothing about medicine, so I might be totally wrong about what all of this means, but it seems pretty straightforward. Under the “Test” column, you see things like “Iron” or “CRP”. Mostly, these are abbreviations and medical terms that I needed to look up. The rest of the table is pretty self-explanatory.
On my report, I had a couple low flags and a couple high flags, but otherwise, everything was in the normal range. I remembered my doctor always talks about something called CRP, which she says is an inflammation marker. It’s listed as “C Reactive Protein” on the report, and my result was 1.1. For this test, there isn’t a range listed in the “Normal Range” column, but instead, there’s a note that seems to indicate to me that less than 2.0 is normal. Looking through my previous blog entries, it appears at my last visit, my CRP marker had been over 4.0, so that would mean I’m doing better now.
I’ve not really experienced any Crohn’s symptoms since I started on Imuran. I’ll have some weeks where I go to the bathroom a lot for a few days in a row, but other than that, I feel pretty normal. So, if I’m reading the report correctly, it seems to coincide with how I’m feeling, which means everything’s good.
I was curious what a normal CRP result would be for someone with Crohn’s, and I found a thread called highest CRP reading you’ve had. Some people said their’s have been in the hundreds, while a nurse said they had never seen anyone’s result be above 8. Some people went to the hospital when their’s was at 10, while others say 10 is nothing to worry about.
So I guess that’s a good lesson; we’re always better off talking to our doctors about the results, because nobody online will be able to interpret them for us. Normal is relative, and what’s normal for one person isn’t normal for another.