Monday, November 7, 2011

Tower Free

Today will be a day long remembered. We have seen the end of my tower, we will soon see the end of cancerous little monocytes.

Also, it's very hard to write when every few minutes some doctor from some team comes in to check up on you. I know they're keeping me alive and stuff, but it will be nice to be out of the hospital for a little while. Whenever that is.

A lot was going on this weekend but I couldn't write about it because... well... a lot was going on. There were times when there were six (6) other non medical people in the room besides me for extended periods of time. It was a good weekend, but exhausting.

But now, I expect, you're looking for some answers. Last I left you, I was struggling through a 104.7 fever, then it broke momentarily like they eye of a hurricane. Hurricane Bulwyf. Then I talked about blood donations and ate some chicken.

So how did I get from barely making it to the bathroom to enjoying a plate of chicken? Well, it's a grand story. And it starts with the infectious disease doctors.

About a week ago, I was starting to spike high fevers, and one of my blood cultures came back positive for yeast. This was very bad news. It's not common, but it certainly happens. See, we all have yeast in our bowels, but normally they're kept at bay through normal competition with the other bacterial cultures all living in there. They all work well together, and work well with the body. Eating yogurt helps replenish those cultures which is why people recommend it for a healthy G.I. tract. What happened to me was chemo. Chemo destroys fast growing cells. This includes bastard monocytes, but also includes hair roots and your intestinal lining. Basically, my intestines are pretty chewed up, and the antibiotics I was on had decimated the competitive bacteria in my gut. The yeast, left with no competition, grew to great populations. This isn't a problem.

Unless you have a torn up intestinal tract and some of that yeast gets into your blood.

So there I was, lying on my bed. "Help, me, Docs! Help me!" I cried out. Their response was pretty decisive. Start me on some more intense IV antifungal, and remove my blood spigot. The yeast could stick to it.

So they take out the blood spigot, give me two temp IVs in my right arm, and start me on the new antifungal. But my temperatures keep rising. And I must say I've felt a lot of emotion throughout this whole experience thus far, but one emotion I had steered clear of pretty well was fear. I've never really felt scared ever. I have total confidence in my doctors, and when they say "this sucks but it's normal" I say "great, let's get through it." But the day I had the 104.7 fever. That day was different.

I wake up, and I feel absolutely terrible. My body aches, I'm cold but I'm not. The tech walks in to take vitals. She takes my temp. 104.7. "Whoa." She drops what she's doing and goes over to the door, yells across the pod to my nurse. The nurse is busy.

"Can this wait?"

"104.7!" She says nothing else.



"Okay, I'll be right in!"

This was the first time I've felt this sense of urgency since my arrival to the hospital, and it was the first time I can say I was honestly worried. This wasn't normal. This sucked, but it wasn't part of the plan.

She gave me a larger dose of tylenol than normal right away and they kept monitoring me for a while after that. Fortunately the tylenol worked and my fever went down to a still manageable level. But we were still left with the question about where these fevers were coming from.

I should mention during this time I got a new rash on my leg. They biopsied it and found it to be a fungal rash of the same type found in my blood. It has since gone away after I've been taking my fancy new antifungal pills.

Well as it turns out, Onk noticed a pattern of my fever spikes. It soon became apparent to my attending team and the infectious diseases team. Their response? Take me completely off of IV antibiotics.

"WHAT?" You ask? "But you have no immune system!"

Good news everyone! My counts have begun to recover. I am no longer dangerously neutropenic and my doctors felt the antibiotics were now doing more harm than good. We dropped them completely, I now have no tower attachment, and my fever spikes went from 104, to 103, to 102, and yesterday I had no fevers during the waking hours at all. Last night, it hit 101, but we decided to forego the tylenol and let it take care of itself. It went away and all is good in the world.

Now, the only problem is that my body has a very hard time regulating my body temperature. So I've been sweating a lot at night requiring a few nightly sheet changes. I also need to change my shirt, so that's been excessively frustrating.

But it's better than 104.7.

I think most things are better than 104.7.


Jayne said...

it is so wonderful to read good energy coming from you today. let's hope that's the last time you ever experience 104.7.

Jadine said...

Well I can certainly relate to the night sweats although mine are not caused by an illness. Menopause is a wonderful thing. (I kid, I kid) But I get brutal night sweats, to the point where I often can change my shirt 4-5 times a night. I'm very glad to hear that they figured out what the cause of your fever is. Take care.