Thursday, March 4, 2010

Neutropenic with an Attitude

I knew I was not feeling quite right at the beginning of the week. However, generally I need 10 days to spring back from a chemo treatment. So, I did not give the fact that I really was not feeling well much heed. I tried to slow down and nap on Monday, but by midnight, I had spiked a fever high enough to condemn me to taking my temperature every hour and prepare for an ER visit. Oddly enough, my fever bounced from 99.1-100.2 all night long. A 100.5-degree fever mandates a trip to the emergency room.

Since I never got to this point, I called Dr. Sweet's office the next morning, guessing I was slightly neutropenic. The tests my doctor ordered confirmed it. I found a great definition online that I thought I would share with you all. It is from, hosted by Scott Hamilton:
If a patient has a fever and low neutrophil count (less than 500/mm3) (febrile neutropenia) they are at risk for infection they may be hospitalized, monitored and receive antibiotics. The concern is that an infection can develop in the blood and lead to a life-threatening condition - sepsis. So the patient is admitted to receive antibiotics until the fever resolves, and neutrophils increase to safe levels - if no source of infection is found.

I have had a slight brush with this problem before and was aware of its dangers. However, the last time, they told me to stay home and where a mask and the symptoms where gone within 24 hours. This time around, I knew I was at the most dangerous point of the 21-day chemo cycle. Days seven through 14 I am most prone to infection. i.e., my white count is the lowest. Monday would have been day seven and hence, another reason for my phone call to Dr. Sweet.

When Dr. Sweet called to confirm my test results, I was not surprised by the results but more by the surprise in his voice. He gave me a new prescription to Neupogin (this is something I take for seven consecutive days post chemo) and strict orders to go to the ER if my fever reaches 100.4. Thankfully, it never did.

However, I can tell you that by the time I got home from the lab (thanks for taking me, Laurie!) and got Dr. Sweet's phone call, I was feeling really weak. I knew I had a bit of a cough/cold caught from one of my children, but more than anything I just felt extremely weak. A strange weak. Thank goodness for my mom, who came over to manage homework and Maddie's biography project, while Steve took Harrison to his first baseball game of the season. I was in bed.

I also stayed in bed yesterday. A new experience for me. I think I slept on and off until 1:00, getting up only for lunch, which my mom had prepared for me, Tom and my dad, who were all here working on our house.

The experience of the last couple of days has taught me to appreciate these down times. I do not know that I have ever spent days in my bed. I never felt justified in doing so. Now, I have an excuse - a good excuse - an excuse that will help ensure I live a long happy life. So, here I sit. My lap top even plugs in down here now (usually it charges in the family room).

The good news is that I have no fever yesterday! As far as I can tell, I have had not had a fever since about 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday, when it was 99.1.

I have a few more physical symptoms that I am dealing with, though. Nothing serious, just some odd ball skin stuff, a little bit more pain (I am working my way off the Vicodin now that I have no fever and can take Tylenol) and the ever constant taste bud issue. I just look forward to having a little bit more activity next week, a few more taste buds and to kick this silly cold.

I got this - or at least I am working on getting this. Going from working, to not even driving, to now having to stay in bed has been something. But I am just trying to keep my eye on the prize and learn to appreciate the choices I get to make in my daily activity now. Different from what they would have been six weeks ago, at least I still have them. Besides, who can resist a nap in the afternoon?

1 comment:

  1. I'm here anytime you need me!
    Hang in there and enjoy your time in bed, pretty soon the kids and Steve will have you running all over the place!