Started the week with a spike in my temperature. All cancer patients are issued a yellow card to present at any ER in Nova Scotia. It moves you to the front of the line. Any increase in temperature is a sign of infection and given a compromised immune system can quickly escalate if not dealt with promptly.
Around 6:00 pm on Monday, March 23rd, I just finished a home-made chicken soup and a feeling of fatigue swept over me. I decided to relocate from the family room to our bedroom. By the time I got upstairs, I started to feel cold so I turned up the heat and crawled into bed. It took a while to warm up under the covers so I was pretty sure something was off.
We have multiple digital thermometers in the house including one I keep on my side table. It read 37.7°C (99.9°F). Typically my temperature runs around 36.7°C (97.9°F) so I was elevated. I felt a little warm but I fell short of the 38°C (100.9°F) which is the trigger temperature saying, “head to Emergency.”
Janet came up to join me around 9:00 pm and she felt I was warm. She headed to the main floor to get a second and brand new thermometer. It read 38.5°C (101.3°F) so we packed a bag and had a friend drive us to the Dartmouth General Emergency.
Since our last visit on January 13, because of COVID-19, the protocol has changed significantly. There are no visitors permitted so Janet had to head home. This was unexpected and unsettling for both of us.
The yellow card had me in triage right away with a temp of 37.7°C (101.6°F) so within ten minutes I was registered and in a bed. Soon after, I had blood drawn and sent to the lab for analysis. It was about 10:30 pm.
Additional blood was drawn to be sent to an external lab. These samples will be incubated to determine if any bacteria grow. It takes a few days for that to occur and either I’ll have a positive or negative result. The best outcome is a negative result. Should it come back positive, I’ll be put on some pretty heavy antibiotics to help out my immune system.
Back to the blood work in the hospital lab. It came back around 12:30 am and the emergency doctor along with the nurse came in to share what it surfaced. By the way, every time anyone came in to deal with me they were in full gowns and masks to ensure there was no chance of any further infection.
The good news is that there was no sign of infection in my blood work. The better news is they hadn’t treated me so far and all the markers indicated my own immune system was dealing with the infection effectively.
I was sent for a chest x-ray and needed to hydrate in order to provide a urine sample. Both tests came back clear. So there was no explanation for my temperature spike but my immune system is doing the job it should. That is great news.
My understanding all along is that the white blood cell count (WBC) is the biggest indicator of a healthy immune system. That is one of the important markers but not the only one. I don’t know the other makers so that will have to be a story for a later time as I’ll need to better investigate why they came to this conclusion. The reason I say this is that my WBC in this blood work was 1.56 which is the lowest it has been since I started tracking.
I headed home after around 4:00 am after a sleepless night. I would have shared this sooner but since getting home, I have spent a lot of time sleeping and trying to eat. This is my worst week trying to get anything in my stomach. This morning (Wednesday) my weight was 75.5 kg (169 lbs). That is a cause for concern and I’m working on it. Here’s hoping the acid reflex in my stomach will settle down soon.
I am having a tough two weeks but it will pass soon and in the bigger picture, I’m doing okay. I was warned these two weeks after the conclusion of treatment would be tough. Up to this point, everything has been so smooth that I expected that to continue. It sucks to be wrong but I’ve got this.
As always, thanks for being at my side during the wild ride. The finish line is on the horizon.
Peace, Love and Laughter