So this past Saturday (aka Sadderday), I wasn’t feeling so great. The most concerning symptom was chest pains. I would feel them especially when I changed position (ie standing to sitting or reverse). I hadn’t been very active for days, because chemo. The pain was intense and had a pulsing sensation. Brent encouraged me to contact the on-call doc. Of course, she recommended me to head in to the ER. They always tell you to go to the ER, so I hesitated. But then I remembered she said something about a blood clot risk. One of my top one thousand fears is a pulmonary embolism. That spoke to me. We went.
They got me in a room, did an EKG, hooked me up with an IV, took blood all in a matter of minutes! Cancer makes things happen fast!!! Psych. They did all those things with the usual 30-45 minute intervals of wait time. Just like normal people.
Really quick flashback/lesson on my chemo drugs regimen: On Wednesday, I had my infusion. It can wipe out your white blood cells, UNLESS you get a shot of Neulasta. Neulasta boosts your white blood cells. They like to use this, because they have found in clinical trials that my particular chemo drugs are MORE effective if administered two weeks apart. They can only give them two weeks apart if you can boost the white blood cells. Comprende?
I saw a commercial for Neulasta the other week and shed a few tears of appreciation for modern medicine.
My labs came back. My white blood count was freaky high. Where a healthy white blood count value is somewhere around 900, my white blood count value was 70,000.
My ER doc was silly, because he mentioned that my high white blood count could be due to leukemia. Ha. Ha. Huh? I knew he was wrong, but I entertained the idea for .5 seconds and decided in that .5 seconds that if I did have leukemia, I was done fighting. That’s how much being poisoned by chemo feels different than having the flu. I can’t imagine doing this again. I told the ER doc that I was pretty sure the Neulasta was to blame. I’d heard it could do crazy things. But, apparently this was crazier than crazy. I got this message from my oncologist the following Monday:
The elevated white blood cell count you had over the weekend was secondary to Neulasta. Levels that high are rare and occur in less than 1% of patients treated with Neulasta. This effect peaks within 24-48 hours after receiving the medication, therefore I would expect that your white blood cell count is now likely decreasing. I would like to recheck your blood counts tomorrow. If lower, nothing else needs to be done. If higher, I would plan to see you in clinic on Wednesday. We will not use Neulasta as part of your future treatment plan and I will enter it as an intolerance in your chart under your allergies.
My chest pains were gone when I woke up Sunday morning. My bloodwork looked better by Tuesday. My oncologist did a fabulous job explaining everything to me on Wednesday. Oh, I kept my appointment. I needed a pep talk. There is a risk I could end up in the hospital with a neutropenic fever (like, no white blood cells to speak of), but that risk is more manageable than a stroke, Dr. Beckwith assured me.
As and aside: Do you know how hard it is to write blog posts without ironic winky faces? The struggle is real.
I’m doing so much better. Wednesday, I was able to be upright without feeling super queasy. Thursday, was the first day I thought I could do chemo one last time. It’s going to be alright. Chemo is almost done-zo. And then I get to start blogging about my ensuing surgery! Ironic winky face or super defeated sad face would be so perfect right here!! Emojis have ruined me.