As I said in the last post, I was admitted to hospital with fever and a white blood cell count (well neutrophils) of 0.1. That made me neutropenic. Which meant that I had neutropenia, which then developed into a condition called neutropenic sepsis. Lets see what the intro from good old wikipedia says:
Neutropenia (adjective neutropenic), from Latin prefix neutro- and Greek suffix -πενία (deficiency) is a hematological disorder characterized by an abnormally low number of neutrophils, the most important type of white blood cell, in the blood. Neutrophils usually make up 50-70% of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria in the blood. Hence, patients with neutropenia are more susceptible to bacterial infections and, without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening (neutropenic sepsis).
So there you are. Have you noticed the life-threatening bit? and i thought they were over-reacting keeping me in for a few days!! Thankfully I only found out that people with neutropenic sepsis can, as my doctor friend fausto put it, “die very quickly”, if not treated. I say thankfully as had i known it would have made my stay in hospital more daunting. And I can pat myself on the back for going to the hospital so quickly. Well, lets pat nick on the back as I have to admit that it took a bit of “convincing” on his side. I was all cosy in bed. It was a saturday, I woke up made coffee and toast. Had breakfast in bed and read last saturday’s guardian (well i couldn’t read it on the saturday when it was bought and then i was knocked down by chemo all week). The sun was shinning through the window and nick was sleeping in the living room, so the flat was peaceful and quite. But as the day went on my throat, which had been a bit sore all week, got worse. My ears were starting to hurt. But I was tucked in bed and the idea of leaving was just not appealing at all.
So nick came into the room around 2 in the afternoon, to see how i was doing. “Not so good” I replied. We checked my temperature. It was a bit high, but not high enough to yet go to hospital. Then checked again. Shit! it was now nearing the temperature needed (37.8 FYI) to start to worry . Then when it did i was like “wait wait, let me check again” and I did, about 20 times i think. I just didn’t wanna leave my bed! my room! We called the “chemotherapy help line” as I like to call it. Basically if i get a temperature or feel “unwell” (feel unwell??? hello!!!! i am doing chemo!!! I am meant to feel “unwell”) I have to call a phone that a doctor picks up. Then I have to report what is wrong with me and they advise me what to do. As expected, he said: “go to A&E”.
So nick and i made a deal. He could get me some soup from the supermarket, and some baguette, I would eat then head to a&e. Straight away. I would not complain. I would not stamp my feet. I would be a good girl.
By 6 o’clock we were in a&e. By 8:30 I was in a cubicle having blood taken and other bits and bobs done and given. By 10 I finally saw a doctor. By 10:30 she was on the phone to my oncologist (who is happy to be contacted any time of day or night if one of her patients is ill, isn’t she amazing?). Then it was antibiotics and fluid through my vein. By midnight I was having an x-ray of my lungs (to see if I had pneumonia). And by 1 o’clock I was up in a ward, with a bed and a jug to piss in so they could know how much wee i was passing (to discard urine infection as the cause of the temperature). It is pretty weird to have a nurse asking you how much you “water you passed” after each visit to the loo. But then again, this whole experience alone is pretty weird. I sometimes feel like pinching myself. Is this really happening? are you sure it is not just a very long dream?
First night at the ward: patient vomiting on one bed WHILE another one was snoring. Someone else has some sort of crisis which meant that she was attached to a machine in the middle of the night. The machine beeped. Really loud. Asked nurse for ear plugs, but they had none. Thank god for my MP3 player! laura marling sent me nicely to sleep. Second night I had my own side room. It was like being in a hotel. Well, in a hotel with very bad food. Jesus!!! thank god lovely friends came to visit with delicious food and chocolate to munch on! third night I was back out in the open ward. But this one was quieter and by then I had my ear plugs. This, however, made it really hard for the nurses to wake me up, which meant that they had to shake me on top of calling my name. Was pretty funny.
My oncologist didn’t want me out till my neutrophils were up to 1.5. I went in with 0.1. By monday they had gone up to 0.5. Tuesday came with the good news that they were now up to 4.6. Excellent. Time to leave hospital, their bad food and continuous day-time tv watching. Time to join the world once again! one of the loveliest and most amazing feelin at the moment is getting my health and energy back after a spell of chemo-related-sickness.
So you would have thought that with a healthy count of 4.6 a week and a half ago I would now be ready for chemo. But not. I had a blood test on monday and they are back down to 1.2. They need to be 1.5 for them to do chemo. Arrrrrgh. So tomorrow instead of going to my appointment at 13:00, having my herceptin and then chemo it means that i have to be there at 9:30, have a blood test. Wait for the result. Then either be extremely disappointed, as i have learned to be, or have the good news that yes, chemo number 5 is happening. Please body, do not let me down.
Oh and some pics from the hospital stay, thanks julie!