Sunday, August 25, 2013

neutropenic fever

I finished my last round of chemo two Fridays ago, and I expected to start feeling back to normal fairly soon last week as has been my previous experience.  However, I didn't feel better and instead starting having this weird tightness in my left chest.  Van Tine sent me in for an X-ray followed up by a CT.  I met with him on Wednesday about the results and looked like I had some kind of infection.  I was mostly feeling ok so he gave me some antibiotics.  I spent most of the rest of the day napping in lab since we had lab meeting that afternoon for the first time in over a month and I was already on campus.  I was feeling kinda off and warm after I got home which lead to me taking my temp to discover I was at 101.7.  After talking to Van Tine, going to the Cancer Care Clinic, and getting a blood count taken; I was admitted with nuetrapenic fever.

Nuetrapenic fever is the medical way of saying I didn't have any of a certain type of white blood cell with a fever on top.  There are many potential causes to this condition, but mine was almost certainly chemo.  The docs admitted me since not having any white blood cells makes you extremely susceptible to infection.  This is why I was started on high doses of very broad spectrum antibiotics and put in isolation.  Although this is a fairly scary condition to be in, Van Tine was happy to hear it since it meant all the tiny nodules he saw on my lung really was an infection and not my cancer going bonkers.  

I have essentially been in the same condition since with a few exceptions.  My left chest pain is mostly gone, but I quickly lost whatever appetite I gained over the weekend and started vomiting regularly.  The frequent nausea has kept be in bed most of the time especially since exhorting myself is often the instigator behind vomiting.  Just the walk to the bathroom and back made me out of breath.  This has improved quite a bit in the last couple of days after I've received a few units of red blood cells and platelets which I was low on too.  My body temperature has been a daily roller coaster of ups and downs which hasn't helped either.

I haven't been bored much since I've been here.  I've had lots of friends come by and visit.  Many a nap has been taken to make up for fever induced sleepless nights and getting woken up by nurses to take vitals.  A mix of random cable TV movies, shows, and some reading has filled up the rest of my time.  The food has been a mix ranging from pretty good to terrible.  It has been a learning experience.

I saw Van Tine today with good news.  He said my blood counts were climbing and if things went well I would be out on Tuesday.  I would need to keep my temp at normal and have my white blood counts keep rising for this to happen.  Otherwise, they would assume the stream of antibiotics I've been getting haven't been effective and they would start some new tests to figure out what kind of infection I have.  Van Tine said it was pneumonia when I was first admitted on Wednesday, but after reading Wikipedia it appears pneumonia is the generic term for lung infection.  Hopefully it gets cleared up before we'd have to worry about that. 

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