Let’s not sugarcoat it

I feel like crap. Actually I feel like I’ve been beaten all over and I have the flu. I’ve felt like this for two days and tried to ignore it but this morning around 5:30 I realized I had a fever and needed to call the doctor.

The on call doctor sent me to the clinic this morning to see the nurse practitioner and get bloodwork to see if I have an infection.

I got a sweet parking spot because it’s a Saturday morning. Apparently less people have cancer on Saturdays. I thought the doctor was mistaken about the Saturday clinic and they were closed because it was so dark.

I was surprised to see a person at the check in desk. I checked in on the recently installed iPad electronic check-in system and she put on my ID bracelet. She gave me some paperwork in a red folder and said, “Do you remember where the chemo room is? Go back there to the nurse’s station and give this to the first nurse you see. I continued through the dark empty clinic back to the chemo room. It felt bright and cheery compared to the rest of the place.

The nurse directed me to put my paperwork in a tray and pick a chair so I looked around. There were three patients other than me. I sat near a bald younger woman in a baseball cap who was just chilling with her iPad and making phone calls.

I tried to knit, I spent some time on Pinterest. I totally eavesdropped on what was going on with the other patients.

I started talking to Lisa, the woman next to me. She was personable and interesting and I moved over in the chair next to her. Lisa is getting treated for early ovarian cancer and found out she is BRCA positive. She made a brave and smart decision and is planning a bilateral prophylactic (preventative) mastectomy later this year, possibly with the same surgeon I used. I gave her mastectomy tips, she gave me Neulasta tips. We talked about our families and work. 

Eventually the nurse practitioner walked up to her and said “Lisa, I hear you have a fever. What’s going on?”

“It’s not me, it’s her.” Lisa pointed to me. “I thought she was your friend,” said the NP.

“We just met,” I said. “Nobody ever believes I’m a chemo patient because I have hair.”

The NP looked at me. “Elizabeth, so you have a fever, what’s going on?”

“I’ve felt terrible for two days. I hurt all over and I had a 102 fever. I got it down to 101 with Advil and then added Tylenol and it went away just before I came here. I don’t know if it’s the chemo, the Neulasta or an infection. The on call doctor wanted some bloodwork.”

“Do we have a lab today?”, she asked one of the nurses.” “We are the lab,” replied the nurse.

“You don’t look like someone with a blood infection but we’ll check. And we will also do a CBC.” 

“I don’t look like someone with cancer either, and I feel worse than I look, although it’s getting much better without the fever.”

One of the nurses drew blood. It was difficult to figure out where to stick me because I’m so bruised from this week’s IV debacle, but she was great and got a vein on the first try.

I hung out with Lisa while they ran a CBC. It takes less than an hour. I was pleased to hear that my white blood cell count had increased from 7 to 44, which means the Neulasta is working. It could also mean I have an infection. I can’t wait to see what it is when I go in for chemo #4 on May 27th.

The NP gave me a prescription for a broad spectrum antibiotic and said it would take a few days for the blood cultures to be analyzed. She wished me well and I was finished.

I ended up staying a while longer talking to Lisa and I was surprised to realize that I was feeling much better. Only a few achy spots and no signs of the fever. I’m off to enjoy the weekend!

The good news is that although I run my insulin pump empty almost every day (it used to last for three days) my blood sugars are better than chemo 1&2. My blood sugar control plan is working.


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