In the last post, late Friday night, June 13, after two days of chemotherapy, I had decided this chemotherapy thing wasn’t so bad. Basically, the process consists of going to the Infusion Therapy Dept. at appointment time, and being taken to a nicely appointed treatment room. The rooms are equipped with relatively comfortably beds, nice flat panel TV’s, and DVD players, with a comfortable chair for one caregiver. After starting up a movie, the nurse hooks up my chest catheter to the IV line and the chemotherapy chemicals begin to flow.
As you know, as of late Friday night, I really hadn’t felt any effects of chemotherapy. When I woke on Saturday morning, it was a different story altogether. I had come down with flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, fatigue, etc. You name the symptom, I had it. Needless to say, the next few days were little more than a blur. I really thought at the time that I was conscious and coherent. I realized later, maybe around Wednesday or Thursday that I was not. I spent most of Thursday and Friday catching up on the few days of my life that I had just missed. I returned telephone calls that I had missed, reread all of the blog comments, reread emails, and reviewed all of the mail that I had received. The mailbox at the apartment is full of cards every day. I must tell you, nothing lifts my spirits more than reading all of your cards, blog comments, and emails. I really wish that there was some way for me to acknowledge each one. Please know that each one is greatly appreciated.
Late Friday afternoon, June 20, I had developed a low grade fever. Fever, of course, is bad news for a chemo patient. Tylenol is off limits, because as a fever reducer, it masks the signs of infection. I have strict instructions with regard to monitoring fever, if it reaches 101˚F I must go straight to the Emergency Center. Friday evening, I was nearing 100˚F. Marissa stepped out for a moment to “make a phone call”, and returned to the apartment with a group of my friends from Tennessee. Chad Dunivant and his wife Jessica, and Chris Chandler and his wife Amanda had made the 13 hour drive to visit. The whole weekend had been planned without me. I was completely caught off guard when they walked through the door. It could not have been a better surprise. Over the next few hours my fever had dropped. I even felt good enough later in the evening to go to their hotel room and visit for a couple hours.
After returning back to the apartment for my nightly medicine regimen, I turned in around midnight. I managed to get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. Around 3:30 am I woke with a fever. It had returned, this time a little more severe. I lied in bed for a while, wondering what to do, wanting to go back to sleep. I decided that I should wake Marissa and check it out. The thermometer read 101.3˚F. I guess this meant another trip to the Emergency Center. At least this time I wasn’t going in for unbearable pain. We ended up staying in the EC for about 8 hours. During my EC stay, my fever reached nearly 103˚F. They got my fever under control with Tylenol, gave me a few antibiotics through my IV, and prescribed me a whole host of new medications to take home to treat any infections I may have as well as to treat the thrush I was also diagnosed with. Thrush is an infection that lives in the mouth and throat and that is painful all the way down the chest into the esophagus. It can be caused by oral antibiotics, which of course for me at this time are plentiful. They also took some blood and urine cultures to check for infection. The cultures, they said, would take 48 hours for results. The antibiotics were precautionary.
After getting out of the EC around lunch on Saturday, I spent the rest of the day sweating out my fever. My visitors were able to come to the apartment Saturday evening and watch a movie. I just didn’t feel up to doing much more. Sunday morning turned out to be a different story. I woke up feeling good. I had a few appointments to make at MDA in the morning, but I was able to meet my friends around lunch and spend the rest of the day exploring Houston. We ate lunch at Chili’s, where I decided to splurge and order a kid’s ribs and fries meal. This was the most I had been able to eat since the chemo. After lunch, we went to Houston’s Museum of Natural Science. We saw exhibits on geology, dinosaurs, and Leonardo da Vinci. We also were able to catch an IMAX movie on the Grand Canyon. I was definitely feeling good on Sunday, and I was able to take advantage. The day ended with an Italian dinner at Prima Pasta around 10pm. I was completely exhausted, but in a good way.
My friends left Monday morning around 9:30 am after meeting me at the hospital for a quick tour and breakfast. Having them come and visit was definitely medicine for my soul and a terrific surprise. They did not get home until midnight on Monday, and they all had to be up bright and early Tuesday morning to get back to work. I cannot express to them how much their visit meant to me. The rest of the day I had a quick follow up appointment in the EC where I was told my white blood cells were back to normal. On Saturday they were at 0.6, Sunday they were slightly higher at 2.3 and on Monday they were at 10.2. The normal white blood cell count is 10, so everything is back on track with me regaining my strength and immune system, much quicker than expected. I guess that is just the healthy 25 year old in me making that rebound.
Tuesday was another great day for me. I did not have any appointments so the entire day was mine to enjoy. The nurse practitioner called me for a follow up consultation on the phone. My blood and urine cultures came back, and they were both normal with no signs of infection. I count my blessings and rejoice for each good day I have and all the good news I receive.
That brings us to today, Wednesday, June 25. I had an early appointment for lab work this morning, but we did not quite make it there on time. I woke up and took my shower with a full head of hair only to step out and notice that in that span of twenty minutes most of my hair had fallen out. Rather than leave the house with only small patches of hair I had my mom shave my head quickly before my appointment. I knew losing my hair was part of the process, and I suspect in a few days the rest will be gone. After my lab work I was met at the apartment door by the FedEx delivery man. Again, I found myself surprised. My coworkers at Gwinnett Sprinkler all pitched in to replace my IPOD after reading that it had been stolen out of our car. So not only do I have an IPOD again, but this new one is even better than the one that was stolen. This afternoon I have another follow up call with the nurse practitioner in the ER. Friday is my last follow up appointment with the Emergency Center for my neutropenic pathway (this is MD Anderson’s special program for monitoring patients with low blood counts). I am feeling well enough to get out and enjoy my free time. This is the best I have felt in a long time as I am pain free and able to walk on my own without my wheelchair. Walking is great exercise for me. The weather is so hot here that we usually try to avoid outdoor activities and today I think we will visit the local mall for the first time.
I have received countless calls inquiring on the status of my posts. I am astounded by the number of people who check my blog numerous times throughout the day and I apologize for the delays, but as always I remain grateful for the prayers and support.
***Happy Birthday to Meaghan, June 25, we wish we could be there to celebrate with you, but we hope you have an awesome day and we love and miss you!!