I finished my 7th round of chemotherapy on 10/24/08, and it was another very tough round for me. The week after chemo is usually my “bad” week, and the following week is usually my “good” week. Well, not this round. Saturday, 11/1/08 ordinarily would have begun my week of feeling much better, where I can actually get out and enjoy doing things before chemo starts again. This time however, I was just not feeling better. We have been told that each round can affect me differently, so we just thought I would perk up a day or so later. By Monday 11/3/08 I was still not feeling better. My home health care nurse came and drew my blood as she normally does on Mondays, but Marissa and I were surprised by the results we received on Tuesday.
When Sharon, our nurse, called us with my lab report she told me that my hemoglobin was only 6.6 which was very low. She said she was calling Dr. D’Amato because she felt I needed a blood transfusion. Sure enough, about an hour later Marissa and I got the phone call to go to Emory Crawford Long for a 23 hour admission and blood transfusion. Upon arrival the doctor told us that they normally administer transfusions at 7.0, and that if I had been older and my hemoglobin was that low I would not have even been able to walk. We felt this explained why I was still feeling so weak and so tired. The doctor was also very impressed that I had not ever had a blood transfusion prior to this, and she told us this would make me feel better within hours. I was definitely looking forward to that.
We checked into the hospital at around 2:30 pm on Tuesday 11/4/08. I was typed and cross matched and it was confirmed that my blood type is A+. At around 9 pm I was given my first of three units that each take 3-4 hours to run. I was given each unit back to back throughout the night. It was a long night as the nurses were in taking my vitals and changing out my IV often. This was also election night and as soon as Obama was elected President people came out of the woodwork to celebrate, scream, and honk their horns in downtown Atlanta. This began at 11 pm and lasted until 3 am when police finally arrived and soon after the streets were quiet. The next morning my labs were drawn again, and I would be discharged based upon the results. At 11 am my results came back. My hemoglobin increased to 9.5, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling much better as promised. My lab work revealed that my potassium was only 2.7. The low end of normal for potassium is 3.5 so 2.7 is low, and it had dropped from the day before. This most likely explained why I still was not feeling very well, as well as my poor night’s sleep. I was going to have to stay in the hospital for another 4 hours to receive potassium through IV fluids. I told the doctor that my home health nurse could come and administer the potassium, so the orders were faxed, and I escaped staying prisoner in the hospital. I was discharged around noon on 11/5/08.
Thursday, 11/6 I felt some better but not much. I received potassium at home and my blood work showed my potassium was up to 3.1. Friday, 11/7 I was given more potassium at home which should have been enough to bring my levels up to 3.5. I finally began feeling significantly better on Friday and was able to get out, for more or less the first time in 2 ½ weeks, with exception of my hospital adventure.
This was the hardest round I have had, and I hope it is better this coming round. I had a fever higher than normal, my white blood cells did not return to normal as quickly as usual, of course my low hemoglobin, and my low potassium all added to my “routine” symptoms. As a side note I received my results from the MUGA scan (the heart test I had 3 weeks ago), and my heart is functioning just fine. We are definitely thankful for this news. I begin my 8th round of chemotherapy on Monday, November 10. I had very few “good” days this time and chemo time has come all too soon. This round I will speak to the doctor about altering some of my precautionary antibiotics as with our research we have found I should not be taking Levoquin with low potassium, as it may contribute to that, as well as having a low white blood cell count. Too bad we are just now figuring this out. We will see if a new antibiotic alleviates any of my post chemo symptoms. It is hard to predict as my chemo and my antibiotics, as well as several other factors, all result in the same symptoms. This is my last round of this chemo regimen, next round I begin one that is not supposed to be so hard on me. I really hope this is the case, and as far as round 8 goes we are praying it is not nearly as hard as the last.