Earlier this week I heard that comment a lot, which isn’t surprising when you consider I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in the hospital. What started as a simple draining has become much more complicated and now I find myself in bed with oxygen running at two liters per minute just to keep my blood oxygen level where it needs to be (above ninety percent.)
What changed? Originally, I was staying for another dose of chemo. My lab draw, however, showed my red blood cell count to be low. My platelets were “fifty.” short for fifty thousand, which is low. My hematocrit (percent of red blood cells to carry oxygen), which they like to see over nine, was seven point five. What this meant was that instead of my normal chemo dose, I’d be treated with the nausea inducing antibiotics and a unit of blood (about five hundred milliliters).
On top of the blood issues, I started running fevers and developed cellulitis at one of the drain site. This isn’t a huge issue, some IV antibiotics should have done the trick except that I was also receiving chemotherapy. That meant I would need a longer course of treatment than the average patient. I was fine with the idea of two weeks –eek!– on oral antibiotics that were making me nauseous until they actually made me physically sick. Tack on to that a small abscess that we couldn’t drain due to location and size and we were back to the drawing board. The doctors agreed to put me back on the IV Vancomycin that had been working so well and hopefully that would be the end of that.
I looked forward to going home as I had started feeling better and the IV vanco could be done at Dr. Brook’s office. Unfortunately, two nights of one hundred degree plus fevers struck. Clearly, the infection was not as controlled as the doctor had hoped. Dr. Brooks decided that it was best if I stayed another day or two and we controlled my temperature. In the mean time, we could do another paracentesis and thoracentesis. I decided I really wanted my chest drained first because my cough was becoming terrible. Painful even. They drained my chest in the morning removing nine hundred milliliters and I felt like I could breathe easier, except for the pain, already. I was prepared for a day of catching up to the pain, that was my experience from the previous time, but this time seemed different. It took almost all night to get even slight control over the pain (and even now it sometimes hurts when I breathe). When the cough didn’t appear to improve, Dr. Brooks decided to have a second chest x-ray done to look for a pneumothroax (collapsed lung).
Good news: the lung is fine.
Bad news: it looks like I have developed pneumonia and will be on more IV antibiotics and spend a bit more time in the hospital. I’m getting insanely tired of being in the hospital, even if the care has been so amazing. My nurses have been attentive and kind; I can’t complain about a single one of them. Still, I want to get home and back to finding a flow to things. I’m also really scared. What if I go home and get worse again? What if this is the end? I was starting to believe that the abraxane (especially now that it is going to be covered outpatient and we won’t need to pay for it!) was going to be our cure, if not at least a step towards it. But in three weeks I’ve gone from hanging out with friends, going to soccer games and the mall to being mostly bed bound, walking the hospital floor, having swollen legs and abdomen and coughing so terribly the nursing staff looks concerned. I don’t feel better. I feel worse and it’s getting me down.
So folks, I ask that you keep praying. I also appreciate the messages of love and support. Thank you for the flowers and phone calls. Please don’t stop getting in touch with me and letting me know what you are thinking. It boosts my morale and I need it. I think we all do right now.