Tuesday, April 26, 2016

False Summit

Remember that post that I titled "Climbing that Mountain" where I said that I was almost to the summit? That was a false summit. I figured with just a few days until my last intensive chemo that I was in the clear. That all of those scheduled things would happen when they were supposed to. But as I have learned time and time again through all of this, not everything goes as expected. I thought that since I had been fever free for almost 8 months, that I could make it another week. Turns out I couldn't. What would this experience be without at least one trip to the ER with a fever? It would have been just too darn easy.

It's rather anticlimactic, really. I am supposed to go to the nearest ER if my temperature gets above 100.4 and on Thursday I was feeling chilled while I was actually hot, just not that hot. I watched my temperature climb over about an hour, as I mentally prepared myself to head back to the hospital for the 3rd time in two days. When it got there, I walked into the ER with all of my necessary paperwork and was greeted with an "Uh Oh, why are you back here again?!" We were ushered into a fancy new positive pressure room with extra clean air, and every person who came to greet me donned a fancy yellow mask so that I didn't have to wear one. Test after test, poke after poke, they tried to find the source of infection.  Meanwhile the doctor tried to calculate my ANC with a mere 0.0 neutrophil number to work with. After a few phone calls, my usual jokes to lighten the mood, and a few stressed out nurses that hadn't had much experience with a neutropenic patient, they finally did what I never expected they would agree to. They let me stay.

I figured I'd be shipped away to the oncology floor at Riverbend or OHSU immediately, but they were all full. I guess I had been bossy enough with everyone that they figured if they made any mistakes or had any questions about my care, I'd let them know. And I did, for a few days, while my oncologist was away (of course the one time I really hoped he'd be around, he happened to be out of town... doesn't that always happen with OB GYNs also?) Once Dr. Sharman got back Monday morning and learned that I had an infection in my blood, he insisted he felt more comfortable with me at Riverbend even though I had been asymptomatic for three days, and raising hell to get someone to let me go home for nearly four. My logic was sound, a hospital full of people with the flu is not a good place for a neutropenic patient. Looking back, I probably should have just chilled out and let the doctors be the boss, but being the control freak that I am, that's not what I did. I'm also still not home.

I'm currently at Riverbend, getting antibiotics 3 times daily, and getting Neupogen shots to hopefully raise my ANC to anything higher than 0. Once my lab work shows that my counts are in fact improving and that I have SOME sort of an immune system, they'll let me go home. But until then, I'm cooped up here twiddling my thumbs, reading, blogging, and talking too much every time a nurse comes in my room. I feel great, I'm ready to conquer everything that has been delayed (one last intensive chemo and a lumbar puncture) as soon as I get out of here.

I am thankful for qualified medical staff. For kind, compassionate and knowledgable CNAs, RNs, pharmacists, and doctors. Hospital cafeteria staff, you could use some work. Science, you saved my life again.

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