It’s been a long week. Actually, It’s been a long couple weeks to say the least, but the last few days have been particularly difficult ones. In the interest of getting everyone up to speed, here’s a quick update on the last two weeks or so:
- Saturday, January 7th: Discharged from hospital following 7-day stay for administration of “1-B” treatment
- January 8th-9th: Cell counts begin to fall (as expected) following chemotherapy. Extreme loss of energy and appetite. Eating is an exercise, and my body refuses to let me keep anything inside. Hydration is a constant battle. Sleeping is pretty much all I can do.
- January 10th: Check into the ER after taking an at-home temperature of 102 degrees; Admitted to hospital, and immediately begin broad-spectrum anti-biotics, blood work, and a variety of cultures seeking to identify source/cause of potential infection.
- January 10th-14th: Persistent high fevers (102-103) and diarrhea continue; no success in keeping food or liquids in my body long enough to be absorbed. I’m on IV, so hydration and electrolyte replacement is ongoing. Blood and stool cultures continue to come back negative for any specific bacterial infection. CT scan ordered for chest (checking for potential infections like pneumonia); abdomen (checking stomach, organs, intestines, etc.); and pelvic region (colon);
- January 15th: Results of CT scan reveal “Neutropenic Colitis”; severe inflammation in intestinal walls as a result of chemotherapy, and worsened by the lack of any immune response to help fight off the inflammation. At my lowest point (known as “nader”) my white cells were basically undetectable in my blood. This was the case for about 4 days. Over the course of those 4-5 days, I received several transfusions of platelets (short-lived red cells) which were struggling to survive my high fevers, along with one transfusion of blood to address low levels of hemoglobin.
- January 15th-17th: In an effort to rest and heal my gastro-intestinal tract, they decide to start feeding me via IV and order me on ice-chips only. Fortunately, as all of my cultures had continued to come back negative for infections, they allow me the luxury of immodium, which provides significant relief. Broad spectrum anti-biotics continue, along with various anti-viral and anti-fungal medications to address potential underlying infection, and ward off possible outside infection.
I’m happy to share today that things are turning for the better!
Over the last several days, my body has once again began to produce white-cells, which will assist in the healing of my intestinal tract along with fighting off any general threats. My white count has been trending upward for several days, and was at 5.6 (within the normal range) this morning. Other important numbers to watch are my hemoglobin and platelets (which are both trending upward but below normal range); and the big one, absolute neutrophil count, which was 250 this morning and trending upward.
I’ve been fever-free for going on 48 hours, and they’ve given me clearance to drink/eat clear liquids (water, broth, jello, etc.) to see if my body is ready to return to normal food in the next few days. I haven’t had any internal bleeding, and the immodium has made for fewer trips to the bathroom, which is great because my life was starting to feel like watching the bathroom scene from Dumb and Dumber on repeat.
I’m hoping I tolerate the broth and jello well, and I’m able to transition to whatever comes next. Shakes and smoothies? Cheeseburgers? It’s funny, I’m not as hungry as I thought I would be while being fed though a tube, but I still crave food, and it’s mostly junk I’m craving. Burgers, burritos, burger king chicken sandwiches, it all sounds good.
Hopefully next time I write will be from the comfort of home once again!
Love you all.