Well, I got the boot today...got kicked out...told to hit the road...adios amiga...catch ya later! In all seriousness though, I did get sent home from chemo today because my counts were too low. I am super bummed out, and somewhat surprised. I know it might sound crazy, and most people would love to get out of chemo for the day - but when you are in the midst of this, all you want to do is blaze through it as quickly as possible. Now we are delayed and everything gets pushed back another week. I know it's not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but of course being the planner that I am, we already had a family vacation planned for the first week of September and my date for surgery was somewhat set. Now, all of those dates are out the window because I will no longer be done with chemo on September 1 as originally thought.
After checking my weight (which was up - yay!) and my vital signs, my nurse, Denise accessed my port to draw my blood. Mike and I waited awhile to hear the results but I never thought they would be too low to get chemo. Denise finally came back and said that my counts dropped significantly since last week and that she would be very surprised if Dr. F allowed me to get chemo today. Sure enough, Dr. F said "no way, Jose" and we were sent packing. I didn't actually get to see Dr. F this time, but Denise explained that this may still be residual effects of the first set of drugs I was on, since those are so tough and usually drop your counts much more than the Taxol that I had last week. My white blood cells, specifically my neutrophils, are severely low.
White blood cells (WBC's) are part of our immune system and are the ones that we need to help fight infection. There are five different types of WBC's, one of which is called neutrophils. Neutrophils make up approximately 45-70% of all WBC's. The normal range of WBC's is 4,300-10,600 cells per microliter of blood and the normal value for neutrophils is 1,580-7,130, with neutropenia (low neutrophil count) being classified as anything lower than 1,700 and severe neutropenia being anything lower than 500. Well, today my WBC count measured at 1,800 and my neutrophil count is only 300! So, this means I am at an extreme risk of infection because my infection fighting cells are significantly diminished. On top of that, my hemoglobin (part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen) has dropped again. The normal value for hemoglobin should be between 11.5-15.1, and mine measured at 9.0 today. Low hemoglobin can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headache, dizziness, lack of concentration, and shortness of breath.
So, what does this all mean? I have to be EXTREMELY careful to avoid infection. We have to be very diligent about hand washing and keeping our house germ free. I am no longer allowed to be in crowds, around children, or near anyone that may be sick. If I have to go out in public, I have been instructed to wear a mask over my nose and mouth to avoid any possible risk of infection. I knew I wasn't feeling the best earlier this week, and even told Mike that I thought I might have over done it by going to Nashville, but I never thought my counts would be so low. All I can do now is to rest, hydrate, stay infection free, and pray for elevated counts when I go back to chemo next Thursday.
I am a bit frustrated and disappointed, but more than that, I am a little sad that this has once again served up a dose of reality and it makes me nervous. I sometimes feel invincible - that I can handle anything - that even chemo can't knock me down too hard or for too long. Today was a reminder that even if I am feeling mentally tough, physically my body is still fighting so hard and no matter how much I try, there are certain things I don't have control over - such as my blood work. I never would have guessed that my counts would be so low today and it just scares me because right now, I need chemo! Although it is the chemo that is making me so sick, I still firmly believe I need it to save my life. I just pray that I am able to get back on track soon.
So, it looks like I will have to cancel all of my plans for the next week- which is such a bummer especially because my wonderful cousin, Becca and her husband and two sweet kiddo's were coming for a visit from Denver. I am hopeful that my body will be in fighting shape by next Thursday and I can resume my treatment plan then.
Thanks again for your continued love, support and prayers! Since I am going to be trapped at home for the next week, does anyone have any good jokes? Movie recommendations? Books? Say an extra prayer for Mike that I don't drive him insane this next week- haha! :)
Looks like these will be the only faces I get to see for awhile....good thing they are both so darn cute :)
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