My ER Adventure

As I’ve mentioned before, I have had trouble shaking some sort of cold or upper respiratory crud since October. After 2 rounds of really stunning antibiotics, it seemed it was finally going away the week after Christmas. New Year’s week, though, I started coughing again.

At my January 12th chemo, I asked my oncologist first to refill the antibiotic, and after our conversation, to culture it because I’m truly sick of being sick. I got a ‘no’ to both. Another round of antibiotics would put me at risk for c-diff or a couple of other infections that are caused by imbalances after taking antibiotics. So the only option was to wait it out. She did give me tessalon pearls, which is an expectorant, for the cough.

For the first week after chemo, I just felt sorta tired. Starting a week later, I started noticing a low-grade fever, feeling more tired, drenching night sweats, and more coughing. This went on into the following week when my temp started to rise. When you’re on chemo, a temp of 100.5 is enough to excite the medical team. By Tuesday night, my fever had finally gone over the magic line to 101.6. My oncologist was the on-call that night. She said again she thought it was a virus and to take Tylenol every 4 hours, keep up the fluids and follow the protocol. By Wednesday, it was not any better. She decided to prescribe Tamiflu in case I’d picked up the flu somewhere. After I picked up the Tamiflu  and 2 hours after I had taken Tylenol, my fever hit 102.6. I took the Tamiflu and went to bed. I took it again Thursday morning and hung out on the couch. My temp had been hovering in the 101.6 range most of the day, and when the nurse called at 4 pm, it was 102.7, and I got orders to go to the ER. I had just taken some Tylenol, and while it *was* the middle of rush hour and we’re in the middle of a flu pandemic, I was in no hurry to get to the ER to be exposed to something worse than I already have. During the few hours I was waiting, my temp went down to 99.4. I didn’t think there was much point in going to an ER with a temp of 99.4 so I called the oncologist’s nurse and let them know that my temp was back down to 99.4 and I’d come in to the clinic for the blood work they were looking for. When the nurse called Friday, my temp had gone up to 101.4 but not over that point, and I was told again to go to the ER. Not what I wanted to hear, and they empathized. It took me a while to get myself together. Mostly fighting again not wanting to be in an ER.

All the above considered, I put the numbing cream on my port and drove to the ER mid-afternoon on Friday. When I arrived, I valet parked in my “normal” spot. It’s one of the few garages at the hospital where my 4 Runner fits in a parking spot. I had to walk halfway across the hospital to get to the ER. There were 2 or 3 other people waiting when I got there to check in. It didn’t take long to figure out why people were sitting where they were – there was a woman sitting in a wheel chair by the door who was very clearly sick, and very most probably with the flu. What made me livid was watching this woman sit with her back to the security people and the registration desk, pulling her mask off her face and having a minutes long coughing jag. There were other people in this ER waiting room who weren’t sick. I hate to think of what this woman was spreading with her reckless behavior. Part of what saved me is not only having cancer and being in the middle of chemo, but also that the lidocaine cream on my port only lasts so long, so if they wanted to start getting blood out of me, they needed to get me into a room, which they did.

Once in my room, I had a chest x-ray first. Then a nurse and a phlebotomist came in to get the blood draws going. I was surprised that the phlebotomist went for my other arm because I thought all blood draws would be through the port since I had one. This was a rude awakening. She needed separate blood for cultures. The blood panel (CBC) stuff where they check my white counts and all that came out of my port. They let me sit a bit watching my vitals, then came looking for a flu swab, a urine culture and an EKG. After all the blood and urine cultures, the chest x-ray and the flu swab, I was told I have a cold and I am a bit dehydrated, and once they got some saline into me, they’d let me go home. I asked about something to eat, as I’d been there for more than 4 hours over the dinner hour without even a snack and I was getting hungry. They brought the saline in with half a sandwich, and I watched some TV until the bags were finally empty.

I got another bit of a rude awakening – they lock off access to the wing where the chemo clinic resides, so I couldn’t walk through the hospital to get to my truck. Lucky for me, there was an admitting desk I didn’t notice was occupied on the way by the first time, where the very nice young man working there called security for me to get my key from the valet and take me to the garage I didn’t know existed before where my truck was parked – with elbow room! The security guy joked they could have parked it in there sideways. LOL

I got on my way and was home about 9:30 Friday night. I fell asleep on the couch probably about 10 pm. I woke up a few hours later and went to bed and slept til noon. When I got up, my temp was 99.4. I hung out on the couch Saturday half awake, watching movies on demand. I went to bed at 10 pm and was up 4 times, mostly because I was soaked. The 5th time I lost my bed and went and slept a few hours on the couch. I went through a record 5 shirts and 3 pair of pajama pants last night. My temp was 98.5 earlier. I sincerely hope that I’m about done with this virus!

About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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3 Responses to My ER Adventure

  1. Renee Gjerde says:

    I sincerely hope that you are done with that virus too. I got whooping cough of all things this summer, though I didn’t know it at first. The coughing just never got better so after three weeks I went to the doctor. Guess I didn’t get vaccinated as a child. One day I worked for a luxury cruise ship at the harbor handling suitcases and talking to folks. I sure hope I didn’t infect anyone. Sigurd and Ella didn’t get it thank goodness. The coughing lasted until December! I am finally done with it. No more coughing just at night as I am lying down. I just noticed that after Christmas. I hope you did not pick up any infections at the ER. Thank goodness things settled down. Here’s to a quiet week and spit in your eye, not wait, that could be bad. Mary


  2. cyncol says:

    Sorry to hear you are feeling bad and having so much trouble. Here’s hoping it improves quickly. When you see the chemo doctor/nurses next time, you might ask them about the night sweats perhaps being linked to the chemo more than the fever. I would guess that the chemo is messing with your hormones. Thinking about you often and wishing the very best!


  3. Cynthia Collins says:

    Sorry you are having such a terrrible time! Hope you get to feeling better soon. You might also talk to the chemo doctor/nurses the next time you see them and see if perhaps the night sweats are a side effect of the chemo rather than a part of the fever. Chemo could be messing with hormones. Thinking about you!


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