I like my oncologist, but sometimes I don’t believe her.
You know, I stayed in the hospital recently for pneumonia, the sixth day after I received my very first chemo. What happened was, I called the clinic the day I had a temperature of 100.4 degrees but I had been feeling not right, too warm, although not febrile the past few days. (Because I had been taking Tylenol for bone pain, my fever was probably camouflaged by antipyretic causing my temperature to read falsely low). Anyway, the oncology triage nurse over the phone advised me to go to the Emergency Department. Promptly, I dragged myself to the mercy of the ER staff.
Right away, they decided they need to keep me in the oncology unit. Apparently, the lab phoned in my ANC count and neutrophil. They were both critically low, too low, I have neutropenia. My lactate was also high (sign of infection), my potassium is low, my temp was even higher (102), my breathing was too fast (32), and my heart rate was racing 120’s to 130’s per minute.
Since then, they put me in reverse isolation. Staff donned on mask to protect me from catching anything. With the white blood count low among other things, I had very poor immune system, I couldn’t afford any more infection in the air. Everybody had to wash hands well (shouldn’t they do it anyhow for anybody?) before getting in my room.
Overnight, with treatment, my blood count improved and I graduated from isolation. Still febrile (100.2), I felt a little better.
“Oh, you are too healthy to stay in the hospital. You are just fine,” my oncologist said before she put her stethoscope against my back and chest.
“OK, but how do we forget this from happening? This can’t happen to me every time I have chemo, being confined for neutropenic fever and all.”
“Well, hopefully this is the first and last.”
That response did not satisfy me. I just stared at her.
“Well, maybe we will put you on prophylactic antibiotics for pneumonia each time you go for chemo…”she added in hesitation.
Later on, my internal medicine doctor walked in my room.
“We need you to stay at least one more day to wait on your blood cultures result…Is that OK?…We just want to make sure…”
“I am fine with that,” I said.
Can you guess which doctor made me feel better?