Happy first day of spring!! I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy some sunshine outdoors today!
So there's good news and bad news... The good news is, my white blood cell count is back up! The bad news is, I didn't get chemo yesterday, but instead spent all day in the Emergency Room. Here's what happened... I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday night/Monday morning and had a sharp, stabbing pain on the left side of my stomach. The pain then spread to a constant dull pain on the entire left side of my abdomen, back, and shoulders. I had been told that the neupogen shots I'd been receiving could cause my spleen to swell and to call a doctor immediately if I had any symptoms. So, at 3:00am, I called the emergency on-call oncologist. The operator told me he would have the oncologist paged and I would receive a call back within the hour. An hour and fifteen minutes later, I called again and told the operator I still had not received a call. He said he had already paged the doctor when I called before, but that he would page him again and I would receive a call within an hour. So far, it's been more than 40 hours and we still haven't received a call from him.
I waited until morning and called my nurse case manager as soon as she got in to work. She told me to go to the emergency room and have everything checked out, just in case. So that is exactly what I did. In the ER, I had my blood drawn, x-rays of my chest, and a CT scan. My x-rays and CT scan came back all good! And my blood came back good too. I might have been a little misinformed in my last blog post, so hopefully I can explain this accurately now. Neutropenia is measured by a person's ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count), which is approximately 70% of my white blood cell count. So just a little recap, in order to be healthy enough to start chemo, my ANC needs to be above 1500. Anything below 1000 is considered neutropenic. Last Thursday, my ANC was 100. On Friday, it was down to 91, which my nurse said is the lowest ANC he has ever seen! On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday each I received a shot of neupogen to help my body boost its white blood cell production. On Saturday, my ANC was a little bit higher at 210. And when they checked in the ER on Monday, I was at 12,700!!!
So this is my theory... The neupogen worked really well for me, maybe even a little too well. Your spleen, which is part of the lymphatic system, works to regulate the amount of blood and blood cells that circulate through the body, and helps destroy damaged cells. So, I think that when my body started producing more white blood cells in reaction to the neupogen, the rapid spike in my ANC made my spleen a little swollen, which is what caused the pain. Now this is only my own theory. The doctor in the ER said that was a possible explanation, but there's no way to tell exactly what caused the pain. All he knew was that my tests came back looking great, so I was free to go!
By that time, it was too late for me to go over to the infusion center to start my chemotherapy. So I went this morning instead. It took about six hours again this time, but it seemed much shorter than that because we started an hour earlier and because I slept for almost half of it. The nurse gives me benadryl as a pre-med to my chemo and it knocks me out every time! :)
As we were leaving Moore's Cancer Center, where I get all of my treatment, and walking to the car, I stepped out into the sunlight and immediately felt pins and needles all around my mouth and nose. I got to the car and sat in the shade and the feeling slowly went away. I have no idea what that was all about! But here's my theory on this reaction... The doctors and nurses are slowly trying to turn me into a vampire. They sure have been taking a lot of my blood, and giving me drugs to produce more of it! And now I can't go out into the sun?!
Anyways, I have a ton of questions about everything! Does this mean I will probably be severely neutropenic after every dose of chemo? Will I always have a week and a half between chemo now? Or will I always have chemo on Tuesdays? What should I do if I have an urgent issue and the on-call doctor never calls me back? Why did my face feel like needles in the sunlight? Are you trying to turn me into a vampire? Ok, so maybe I'm just kidding on that last question, but I truly could go on and on with legitimate ones. You probably don't need to hear all my questions, though. Luckily, I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow so I will have the opportunity to ask her everything!
Please just keep me in your prayers! Specifically this week, I ask for prayer that my side effects would be minimal and I would have no pain at all! Thank you all for your continued letters, gifts, prayers, love and support! I wouldn't be able to get through this hardship without you!