FEVERS + A CANCER PATIENT = THE ER

If you “Like” my Facebook page or you are my Facebook friend, then you’ll already know I am back in the hospital. My last post was on Saturday and it was titled “I’m Exhausted”. Well, no crap I was exhausted – I couldn’t even spell anything correctly – much less keep my eyes open. The chemo was doing its job and it was making my body crash. I was doing too much at home anyway with all the Christmas and birthday errands. As a cancer/chemo patient (or at least for me), I know in my head that I need to take it easy. However, when you have those periods of time when you do feel good, you just want to do as much as you can because you do feel good! So, I was out-doing myself and my chemo was doing its job.

I fell asleep on the couch Sunday afternoon sitting up and apparently I was trying to pretend I wasn’t sleeping but chose to stay on the couch and not go up to bed. I slept straight through until about 4 am Monday morning.

Me Sleeping Sitting Up

I woke up freezing cold (Yes, it does get cold here in Vegas. My mom will even back that up because she lives in Florida and its still in the 70′s-80′s there right now.) But, my coldness was most likely due to my fever and body aches. I had been working on getting an office visit with my oncologist since I had been discharged from the hospital. I needed blood work done to see where my blood counts were headed. That hadn’t been quite so successful (a story for another time, but one of the reasons I am now working on getting a second opinion hopefully at UCLA.) By mid-morning, I took my temperature and it read 102.8, then 101.8. I was pretty sure I needed to head to the ER. I called my oncologist’s office and the nurse immediately agreed that I just needed to go to the ER.

The ER (at any hospital) is never a fun place to go. It is usually the starting point for going into the hospital for anything you might have. So, while ER nurses have a very broad-based knowledge (because I am sure they have seen just about everything), they don’t have the more specific knowledge that a cancer patient and a cancer nurse/doctor might have. So, that can be frustrating. I just wanted to get up to my 4th floor, to the nurses I knew, and get the ball rolling in making me feel better. Because of the smaller oncology/chemo beds they have here they didn’t have a 4th Floor bed available right away. I was in an ER isolation room from 11:30 am on Monday morning until they transferred me up to my 4th floor at 3 am on Tuesday. Ironically, Summerlin Hospital has been working on a larger wing for oncology and chemo beds and I was the FIRST one in it on Tuesday! I got to pick which room I wanted, so I really moved rooms twice on Tuesday.

One of my favorite nurses, Melody and I on the new oncology wing.

One of my favorite nurses, Melody and I on the new oncology wing.

When I arrived in the ER, my blood counts were all incredibly low, I don’t know how I was even functioning. To be honest I really didn’t feel that bad. I just know that fevers are bad news with cancer patients. They have been treating me for fevers and infection and giving me lots of red blood cell and platelet transfusions. My son’s 4th birthday is on Monday, so I REALLY hope to be home by Monday. If not then, then Christmas Eve will do as well. Actually I know I have to stay in here as long as I have to but I pretend sometimes that I am in charge of my own body. I’m obviously not because it hasn’t been doing what I’ve been telling it to do! Ha Ha Ha

Its all a big, long, arduous, painful learning process. And when you have a bump in the road (even though you have a good idea its going to be there anyway), its still tough mentally and physically to endure it all. I want my treatments to be effective and efficient (I know you’re saying, “In your dreams Amanda”) so I can just get this done with and my kids won’t have to remember all the times I couldn’t be there because I was stuck in the hospital. I feel like the younger they are, the less they will remember. I will talk to them about it when they are older and they can understand but right now I just want them to be kids! And they grow up so fast! Any parent can tell you they grow up too fast. So, if you have kids, go give them an extra hug and kiss tonight or this morining (whenever you are reading this.) Depending on their age, they may look at you funny but who cares. They are always going to get lots of hugs and kisses from me whether they like it or not! We do hugs and kisses on FaceTime every night.

“I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS…”

Well, my hospital room WAS full of Christmas cheer (no, I’m not going to get all “politcally correct” on you and call it Holiday cheer) but its time to take the decorations down!

My in-laws, Mike and Lynn were here earlier to help me pack it all up because I am headed HOME from Camp Summerlin to enjoy Christmas with my husband, kiddos and bulldogs (and a Mastiff)! It’ll be nice. I still have shopping to do, cookies to bake, etc. but it will feel great to get back into the routine of things. There are ALWAYS things that need to be done before Christmas – just like every other normal person. And if you are one of those “abnormal” people who have EVERYTHING done and its only the middle of December, then I really don’t want to talk to you! hahaha

In my defense, before I got admitted back in the hospital on Dec, 2, my awesome husband was great about getting all of the outdoor lights up (including the white reindeer lit up with white lights, the blow-up M & M and the light up Snoopy . He also got the Christmas tree up inside (yes, we use a fake tree every year) and the whole family helped decorate with the lights and ornaments. The stockings are hung over the fireplace. (I’ll grace you with all of these pics when I get home later today.)

I love this time of year because it just feels warm and cozy to me. I love the smell of Christmas, the festive Christmas lights and the corny Christmas music that seems to run on a neverending loop wheverever you are. Once we started having a family of our own, Dave and I worked really hard to try and keep certain traditions alive that we do every year at our house. We have implementent the ever-so-popular Elf on the Shelf. (Roger is the name of our Elf – and he’s quite devlish and creative at my house.) We go and visit Opportunity Villages’ The Magical Forest  and spend an arm and a leg there (its not cheap!) (This year they asked for my first born child as well, and that’s where I had to draw the line.)  At  least we know the money goes towards a great cause here in our town. And last, but not least, we go to Town Square so that Ava and Grady we can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and tell them all of the things they would like for Christmas. The setup at Town Square is great because it is designed as a Normal Rockwell Christmas.  You actually go inside Santa’s little house. We’ve always gotten good pictures from them and some classic ones as well! (Such as Grady laying across my lap screaming because he wants to have nothing to do with Santa.)

My numbers (meaning my White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells and Platelets) are all looking up and I’m feeling pretty darn good. I haven’t gotten full discharge directions yet, but I believe I will be visiting my oncologist’s office a few times a week for them to draw blood, monitor my blood counts, decide if I need transfusions of red blood cells or platelets and to schedule my next round of chemo which I imagine will be in the beginning of January sometime.

I am just happy and content to continue these traditions –  Leukemia hasn’t gotten in the way this time around!

As Johnny Mathis says, “I’ll be home for Christmas…”

P.S. WordPress has decided it doesn’t want to be fully functional today so I can’t upload any pictures into my post. As soon as the bugs get worked out, I will post pictures.

ROUND 3 OF CHEMO CAN GO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE

I try not to be overly dramatic while filling you in on my battle with leukemia but this current round of chemo is really doing me in. I have two oncologists – one that I see while in the hospital and one that I see at the office when I am not in the hospital. (Yes, thank you insurance for just making things more complicated for no good reason.) The office oncologist likes to give me very rosy-colored news. Dr. Wierman, my hospital oncologist, has a great bedside manner, is extremely smart, but tells you straight-up just how it is. As I came into the hospital this past Monday for my 1st round of maintenance chemo, the office oncologist said I would only be here for 6 days and that I would be sent home with meds. (That sounded great to me! I mean, why would leukemia treatment be difficult in any way?) ha ha ha…joke was on me.

As soon as I got admitted back into the hospital and was getting situated, Dr .Wierman (my awesome hospital oncologist) graced me with her presence. She first said that I should have been getting some type of chemo treatment during that time I was home. She was surprised that I had been home for a whole month in the first place. (That made me feel a bit uneasy, especially because I just had been following the orders of the other oncologist.)

As for my actual chemo, it is the same medicine Ara-C (or Cytarabine) that I had for my first two rounds of induction chemo. When I had Ara-C, the first times around, it went through my IV 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now, I get it only for 1 hour, 12 hours apart, every other day. The kicker is that the dosage I am recieving now is over 100 times stronger than the first and second time around. This results in more intense and different side effects. That sounds like fun, right?! I immediately started feeling very nauseous and began throwing up. I have headaches, joint pain…and well I just feel like plain ole sh!t. I’m experiencing a hangover from an awesome night out that never really happened. Of course there are meds to help stop the throwing up and the pain but its just not a lot of fun. Today was the first day that I was able to post because I could actually make my eyes focus on the computer screen.

Mandy in Bed - Round 3

Excuse me while I take an Ellen break…..(Sorry but here in the hospital, I don’t have the luxury of recording it and watching it later.)

Okay…now I am back.

Its crazy to think that just a few days ago, I was enjoying my husband and kids, sledding at Mt. Charleston and having a grand time.

Ava at Mt

Grady at Mt

 

…and now I am just trying to make sure I don’t throw up on anyone!