An Unwanted Visitor

This post want have the usual songs and fluff. I’m writing it on my iPad from my bed. Just the facts ma’am.

Yesterday was supposed to be a momentous occasion as cancer goes. My last chemo treatment. Yay! I had been fighting off a mild bug and low fever since last Saturday but had started feeling better.

I went to the oncology office and started the same as any other trip. Insert the carpet tack needle in the port. Draw the blood to check white count. The white count was pretty low at 2.1, but chemo was a go.

I picked a room, and there turned out to be a lovely outgoing lady from Boston in there. We chatted for quite a while, enjoying each other’s company. It was really refreshing not to be sharing a room with someone who was dying or going on in depth about their stage 4 recurrence. She laughed easily and heartily. “This is going to be a good session”, I thought to myself.

I got the first infusion, the Benadryl and Pepcid, and settled in. About 10 minutes into it, I started to feel very cold. I asked my son for one blanket, then two. Then the shaking began. I shook uncontrollably and violently for the next 15 minutes. It wasn’t so much from being cold. I felt almost like I was having a mild seizure.

When the nurse came in, she tried to take my temperature and my blood pressure but couldn’t get my trembling body to cooperate. After a few minutes of valiant effort by the nurses, the doctor came in and decided that chemo was definitely not going to happen. He asked them to draw blood cultures, one set from the port in my chest and one from my arm. This was to make sure no bacteria had made its way to my bloodstream. I also had to give a urine specimen to check for a UTI.

The shaking finally subsided after what seemed like an eternity. I had been feeling intuitively iffy about this treatment all week, as though I were pushing my luck and my body was trying to tell me it was done. Talk about a sign. I decided right then and there that this session would have no rain check. My doctor agreed that the benefit of 12 vs 11 treatments was not significant.

i went home briefly as I had my first appointment yesterday afternoon with the integrative MD (More good stuff on that later). I felt like I was getting warmer, so I took my temperature. 102..uh oh. I struggled to the doctor’s office but was able to get through it with ibuprofen.

Once the drugs wore off, the game was on. I went to bed and stayed there all night. I felt extremely hot at around 10 pm. 104.. Not looking good. I had my husband call the doctor on call who was…you guessed it…the guy I broke up with. His advice was to combine Advil with Tylenol to get the fever down. It probably had something to do with my reaction to the Benadryl earlier. Huh? If I couldn’t control the fever, I was to go to the ER.

I thought he was pretty cavalier about the whole thing, but I made it through the night and woke up drenched. The fever had broken, thanks in large part, I suspect, to the two different antibiotics I started yesterday. You should know that I never take antibiotics. I usually stuff the prescription in the bottom of my purse and handle things my own way. Something told me not to do that this time.

Imagine my surprise when I found out this morning that my blood is growing bacteria, most likely E Coli. What!?! Where the hell did that come from?Usually a person becomes septic with E Coli when she has a perforated  bowel or a raging UTI. No on both counts. The urine culture was negative. My only explanation is that this bacteria had to have been introduced directly into my bloodstream during one of my various treatments, probably last week.

I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, I’m taking the antibiotics and hoping for the best. My fever has cooperated so far today, but the doctor has put me on a “short leash”. If the fever returns I get to take a trip to the hospital.

i’m tired, but I’ll keep you posted.


21 thoughts on “An Unwanted Visitor

  1. E. Coli??? Seriously?! Feel better! This sounds positively dreadful. You’ll be in my thoughts. I wonder how many times we ignore our intuition only to find we should have listened. I know that happens to me all the time in regards to my treatment and health. Be well.

      • I started with dose dense treatments. I did all 4 AC and the first 2 Taxol this way, but I had a really bad reaction to the second Taxol, so they dropped the dose and did it weekly for 6 weeks. I think it worked out better.

  2. Sorry u r experiencing these complications. I had to discontinue the 12 rounds of chemo prescribed after 8 sessions due to side effects of the chemo — lower extremity peripheral neuropathy. Today, five years later, in both feet I experience continuous numbness, tingling, pain and extreme “coldness.” But, I am grateful for my five years of living cancer-free. I will continue to follow your blog to see how things are going with you. Sending a warm hug.

    • Thanks for that hug:) I’m sorry to hear about your neuropathy. Knock on wood, I seem to have escaped the worst of it by using my crazy frozen peas and carrots on the hands and feet during chemo. But you’re right; you have a lot to be thankful for!

  3. I’m just diagnosed and starting this cancer adventure. I’m so glad I found your blog. I have Aplastic Anemia on top of the BC so my white cells are 0.7 and my hemoglobin is at 9 on good days.
    Thank you for sharing your ongoing experience!

    • Hi Pam. Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad to help any way I can. I’m sorry you have to go on this adventure; I can think of much better ones:) How on earth will they treat you with those blood counts?

  4. So glad you’re safe. You’ve done all the right things. Now to just rest and get better. Safe in the knowledge that E.Coli is eminently treatable with antibiotics and it sounds like you’ve gotten them on time. Good on you for also managing to get to the alternative med guy. As with any recipe, take what you need and leave the rest 😉

  5. Oh, that sucks. Great to be finished chemo, but sorry to hear you’ve been unwell.
    I also finished chemo this week…am glad to have that behind me 🙂
    Take care,

  6. Am keeping you in my good thoughts and prayers. My sister just began her second round of chemo after a second surgery. How you both keep your sense of humor about you is beyond me. And am marveling at the chances of having an ex be the doctor on call. The Universe is definitely trying to make you laugh . . .

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