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.

MARVELLOUS

A neighbor gave me an easy-reading fiction book called A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French. We could all use a bit of “marvellous-ness” in our lives, right? Its a British comedy about any normal family that has an impossible teenage daughter and a gay teenage son. I am sure we can all relate in one way or another. It has made me grin because the mother in the family goes on multiple tirades regarding normal family catastrophes and worries – such as birthday parties when her kids were little. (Yes, it starts even before Kindergarten and it gets competitive.) Which mom can throw the best birthday party? Who has the best entertainment? Who found the PERFECT party favors? (You know there’s always that one mom that hits the nail on the head year after year.) That’s when all of us regular moms throw in the towel.

The funny thing is that 6 months ago, planning a birthday party for Ava was a huge daunting task for me – and I tried to make it as simple as possible for myself. (The kids all went swimming at LifeTime and a dear friend Malene did the gift bags for me. All I did was show up.) The doctors can’t say how long I had leukemia before I was diagnosed, but I probably had it back in May (which is when Ava’s birthday is.) That’s where all my energy was going. The good part? I feel like I could plan a birthday party right now. I have a lot more energy and stamina. Maybe Grady’s party can reap the benefits of how good I feel these days! Oh wait, his birthday is 2 days before Christmas. He almost always gets screwed out of a birthday party because its so close to the holidays. #MomFail – I shouldn’t have had him so close to Christmas.

My mom left Monday morning back to her regular life in Florida. (Back to The Villages – a huge master-planned retirement community, a Disneyland for adults. Just ask her and she will tell you ALL about it.) So, for two days now, I’ve been back on kid-duty. You don’t know how good it feels to know you can operate in your normal life after you’ve been in the hospital for 2 months. You get very insulated (and possible bed sores) when you are laying in a bed all day for that long.  But, we’ve made it to school 2 mornings in a row and they weren’t left at school yesterday afternoon. (This afternoon is still up for grabs.) In all seriousness, it may not seem like a big accomplishment, but in my life right now, it is.

I head to the doctor later this week for blood work and to schedule my next round of chemo – which will put me back in the hospital. As of now, doctors plan on giving me 4 rounds of maintenance chemo. The maintenance chemo lasts for 5 days and I should be able to come home inbetween treatments as long as there are no complications or fevers.

Well, I am off to clean bathrooms and do laundry – more parts of everyday life. It may seem boring, but to me, its MARVELLOUS that I can do these things! Oh and if you have ideas for a 4-year-old birthday party, let me know. I just realized it is about a month away…poor kid! I’ll get it right one of these years!