Don’t freak out, I’ve covered that already

It’s 3 a.m. Thursday night and I’m lying in bed having had a fever running in the 101-plus range. I was admitted about 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, following protocol that anything over 101 is dangerous.

But this is different. I’m uncontrollably shaking..  I’m talking the kind of shaking that you grab your arm with the other and you can’t hold it still. I’m ice cold ….. a few seconds into consciousness I buzz for my nurse and she is here in seconds. My temperature is 103. They start a drip with a stronger anti-biotic and bring a warmed blanket to put over me beneath the regular bed sheets. Maybe, maybe it freaked me out a bit. It was my first night in the hospital, I wake in a freezing shiver I can’t control, and they tell me my temp is 103. I get Tylenol too and manage to shiver my way off to sleep.

I awake not too long after that incident and me, my sleepwear, and sheets are damp. I realize the antibiotic drip has helped break the fever. It’s four in the morning (Friday) at that point but I figure that’s perhaps hopefully the worst of it.

My vitals are strong today (Saturday). My blood count is still bottoming out with this morning’s tests. My platelets were down below safe levels. So I got first-ever blood transfusion of platelets today.

My doc is a comprehensive guy. We went over the infections and problems through Friday. Doc said I had a type of E-Coli infection – one found in almost all of us in our digestive track. Normally, your natural immunity keeps it in check. But, I have no immunity. We discussed some side- effect management. He then said that as far as stem cell transplant patient status goes I was doing great, “Better than to be expected.”

So it’s Saturday and I’m still on the downside …. but new cells could start popping up as quick as tomorrow or the next day. That means recovery is underway after hitting rock bottom from the rat poison that is chemo.

I will remain hospitalized for a few more days – probably at least middle of next week or latter part of the week. Then I’ll be able to return to outpatient status. I still hope to get back to Cville by mid May.

I guess I should end with something philosophical but nah. I’m not trying to inspire. I just want people to learn what cancer treatment is really like and what it can do to them or their loved ones.

There are only two clinics in Indiana doing this treatment for re-occurring  Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I’m at Saint Francis on  Indy’s southside. The other is IU Health downtown. This clinic does 80-100 transplants a year.

What I can say – is I can’t wait to start the fight back – that’s got to beat the crap out of the slide down.



About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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