Last weekend I was so looking forward to being back on my feet and having a normal week, and then I went and caught a cold. In the normal scheme of things, this mostly doesn’t happen – I just don’t really get coughs and colds and stuff – and if it does, I take massive doses of Vitamin C and zinc for a couple of days and I’m fine again. Unfortunately, pretending things are ‘normal’ between chemo treatments comes a cropper when one’s immune system is non-existent, and the ‘cold’ was actually an infection somewhere, and my temperature shot up on Monday night.
I have this little card in my wallet that says if I have just one temperature reading of 38 degrees (which to be honest I wouldn’t normally even register, much less fret about) I have to go straight to A&E and show them the card with all the details of my treatment regime and be kept away from ill people and have various tests and antibiotics. So reluctantly, grumbling, I took myself up to the hospital on Monday after putting the kiddies to bed. And didn’t see them again until Thursday afternoon.
My white blood cell count was apparently lower when I went into hospital than it had been on Day 8 after the chemo, when it’s meant to be at its lowest. This meant I was neutropenic – I basically had no immune system, already had an infection brewing somewhere, and had no means of fighting it off. So rather than sending me home with a pack of penicillin, I was admitted and put on an antibiotic drip. I was very, very grateful to my lovely friend E for coming up to the hospital after DH called her, and staying with me till 1am, when they finally decided to get the intravenous stuff going. I got to a ward at 4am, and was put in a side room to keep me in isolation as I was at risk from every tiny bug.
On Tuesday I was pumped full of more drugs, and everyone in oncology trooped down to have a look and a poke. I rested. My sis brought Heat magazine. I was also given another injection of a drug (lenograstim) to get my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells as a matter of urgency. Ditto Wednesday. My mummy came over. I rested. It snowed. Then on Wednesday afternoon my gorgeous research nurse Celia popped over to tell me the very good news that my army of white cells had made a heroic recovery and I could go onto oral anti-b’s and home on Thursday. Hurrah!
Unfortunately, there was something of a communications breakdown between the ward and oncology on Wednesday night which meant the ward team insisted on carrying on with an unnecessary penicillin drip at 2am (FFS!). I had to get a bit stroppy to ensure I could go home on Thursday. I was missing the kiddies terribly and was bored shitless. (My dear friend S , who is rather fond of her sofa, has promised to show me ‘the way of doing nothing’ as I am crap at it and she is a guru). I eventually had to threaten to discharge myself at 1pm after being ignored for most of the morning, upon which a discharge letter and medication magically appeared.
DH did a brilliant job of looking after the kiddies and holding the fort at home with a bit of help from the wonderful grandparents. Since school was closed for three days, he’d also managed to buy a sledge and salopettes for the kids and take them sledging, which quite frankly I wouldn’t have bothered doing. He was knackered, though, and practically the moment I stepped in the door he went off for a lengthy nap. Still, at least now he knows he can do it – get the kids up, dressed, breakfasted, entertained, ferried around, fed and watered, bathed, bedded, all day, without me interfering. Which is as good for me, the control freak, to know as him, to be honest.
So, not a normal week after all. But lessons learned about being blase about the fragility of my immune system, and drugs adjusted for next time so that won’t happen again. There’s a Chinese curse, isn’t there, ‘may you live in interesting times,’ which seemed apt this week. I have never been so grateful for the many small miracles in a normal day, from normal health and normal routine to normal client work, normal weather, and even normal tastebuds (they are back! Wine tastes good again! Although randomly everything has an aftertaste of lemon juice.) And THIS week, starting tomorrow, will be normal.