Entered the neutropenic phase yesterday. This is when white blood cells are very few and immune system can’t do much to protect the body, which is expected after every cycle of chemo as par for the course. So precautions are taken. Last time, an infection landed me in the ICU. That infectious process is still with me, and could be for the duration of chemo, so I’ve become a bit more complicated case than the docs hope for. Still, in 2nd day of neutropenia I’m feeling a bit better than the past few days. That could be because there aren’t any white blood cells to fight the infection; hence, less inflammation and other consequences of an immune response. Instead, five different antibiotics are keeping the infection under control. Still, it’s safer for me to be an out-patient rather than hang out in the pathogen rich environment of a hospital, tho I spend five or more hours per day there getting antibiotic IVs and whatever else might be needed.
Sister Leslie has been here the past week, keeping an eye on me when Jo Marie can’t be here, shuttling me back & forth, helping to keep track of medical info, cooking & cleaning, shooting the breeze, and being all-round lovable. Also, her car has butt warmers. She had to give up a hockey tournament this weekend, but stays up with nephew Eric’s team via husband Chuck. Also learning about her work managing the database for a hospital in the UP.
On Friday, we had an important talk with Dr Thompson, our primary doctor (hematologist/oncologist). We’ve liked her from the start and she came through again. In a highly technical and specialized system like Mayo, where patient care goes along with research and teaching, we meet lots of doctors but not always the same one in each area of specialty (e.g. infectious disease or colo-rectal surgery). This can be disconcerting for us, as certain issues don’t fall clearly into one specialty or another (e.g. aspects of the infection and the leaky lumbar puncture of a few weeks ago) and we can’t tell how well they are being watched. I don’t have the knowledge to know what matters and what doesn’t. Jo Marie has to spend time away working, though she has been best at noticing when something is going wrong. It’s a major strain on her to take care of things at home, get hours in at work, and to keep a close eye on me and the treatments I’m getting. Dr Thompson responded with practical steps to increase continuity of who is watching what. So we are much more comfortable in this regard. After all, the infections are potentially dangerous and need close scrutiny.
Looking forward to white blood cells bouncing back, but that will probably take a few more days, at least.
May all beings appreciate those who make our lives better, wiser, and more loving. Please let them know while you have the opportunity.
p.s. Thanks for all the comments. I read them all and feel accompanied by each of you.