I suppose the best thing to do would be to turn tradition on its head and begin at the beginning. Actually, no. You know what? I'm going to begin by saying that I am currently in the hospital, hooked up to an IV, and digesting two different sandwiches. Now I will begin at the beginning. Flashback: 10:30 am, Sunday, June 03, 2007. I decided to shower. I figured now was as good a time as any to scrub off my accumulated grime. So I taped up my chest and prepared the hot water. As I was sticking my tubes into a plastic baggie, I started to feel awful. I felt like I was about to vomit. I debated foregoing the shower and going back to bed. Instead, I stepped into the shower, freezing. I continued to freeze while I showered, even though there was steaming hot water beating into me. So I cut my shower short, and I rushed to my bedroom to put on clothes. I put on jeans, tank top, over-sized t-shirt, and large red sweatshirt. I then shimmied under my bedclothes and commenced shivering in the fetal position. By this point, I had realized something was wrong. It is worth noting, also, that I have known since Friday that I am neutropenic. The chills are not to be taken lightly, as they are the precursor to a fever, which means infection. So I was, naturally, freaking out. I started taking my temperature: 99.5. Okay, not terrible, but not good either. Ten minutes later: 100.6. Uh oh, I had just crossed the "call your doctor" threshold. One more degree up and it's hospital time for me. At this point, intelligent readers, I hope you have reached the same conclusion that I had: I had an infection. My fever kept climbing, and I had alerted my parents that I needed to get to a hospital. So my mom drove me to the Emergency Room of a hospital closer than U of C, where I have an established relationship with one of the doctors. This is my emergency, "if you get a fever," hospital. So we got to the ER, checked in, and were relatively quickly put into an isolation room. And then the blood draws began. The nurses immediately had to draw blood cultures to test for the various infections. These they drew from my arm. They also drew blood from my line for a regular blood-level test. So the nurses hooked me up to an IV drip while they were waiting for the lab results and gave me some Tylenol for my 102 fever. (I think the highest it got was 103.5, but that was by my thermometer, not theirs.) And finally the doctor came in: "Your blood counts are terrible!" "Yeah... This I know..." My white blood cell count was (is) zero. Not 0.1 or something, straight up zero. I have no white blood cells! No wonder I got an infection. And also, my platelet count was 8, with the normal being between 150 and 450. It is interesting to note that because my platelet count is so low, my blood can't really clot well. One of the nurses put a bandaid on my arm after drawing blood. It was annoying me, so I pulled it off, quickly. But it broke some blood vessels, and now the crook of my elbow is all purpley and mottled. Fun. But anyway. This is getting long. So, the doctor ordered a powerful antibiotic and platelets for me, which eventually came. The main issue was whether or not I would be transported down to University of Chicago. The doctor here finally got in contact with my doctor at U of C, and, while she wanted to send me downtown, there were absolutely no beds at U of C. So, after six hours of isolation in the ER, they admitted me here. And here I am.
I am still receiving fluids, and I think I get the antibiotic again around 8 pm -- they give it every 6 hours. We're not sure how long they will keep me here. My fever finally seems to have broken, which is good news. And I am not visibly ill. Once they figure out what infection I do have, they will be able to give me more specific drugs to fight it. Otherwise, I just don't have any white blood cells. So I have no way to fight an infection. But I know the doctors don't want to keep me here if there isn't any reason to. So we'll see what tomorrow brings. As of now, I feel okay. I'm fairly exhausted from all the shaking I did today; I got the chills a couple of times. Despite any literature to the contrary, shaking uncontrollably is not what one would call "fun." Anyway, so that was my day. My very first at-home neutropenic fever crisis! But everything seems to be under control. Hopefully I'll be let out of here soon. Thanks for reading, and Farewell from here on this most crazy of Sundays. Pax.