Monday, December 11, 2006

febrile neutropenia

Sounds vaguely distasteful, doesn't it? Like something you wouldn't want your mother to know you'd contracted?

It's actually what happens when chemo beats the shit out of you and your white blood cells are pummelled out of existence, leaving you feverish and sleeping round the clock for days on end.

At least that's what happened to me.

This is the best technical (but accessible) explanation I could find online

I was pretty stupid about it, actually. I had been told pretty clearly that if I had a fever that topped 38C, I was to come into the hospital immediately. I didn't take my temperature for several days (and didn't think that I should be worried about sleeping all the time) and then, when I did, I didn't think 38.4C seemed all that high (I was in grade school when Canada switched to metric and still prefer Fahrenheit for temperature. 38.4C is 101F).

One cancelled chemo session and a four-day hosptital stay on iv fluids and I can honestly say that I have learned my lesson.

Nothing like a stay in hospital to help focus your thoughts. I was fortunate to have a private room (thanks to a very good health insurance programme through work) and, even though my iv and I were permitted to wander the halls, I preferred to stay in the room. I was the only person on the oncology ward in for febrile neutropenia; the other patients all appeared to be receiving palliative care. It terrified me.

I need to do everything I can to delay my own palliative stage of cancer treatment. And I need to come to terms with what it means to have a terminal illness.

I'm working on it.

And life is still filled with more good things than I can count.

Tomorrow: Good karma.

1 comment:

Irene said...

Hi Laurie,

My niece has neutropenia often, having had chemo for leukemia. What she most likes about CHEO oncology ward: the clown, videos, and a menu for every meal.