Friday, August 11, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0262 - Hot, Hot, Hot

The instructions from the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre are very clear. Patients are to monitor their body temperature at least twice a day. If your temperature reaches 101 degrees, then go immediately to the emergency department of the hospital, tell them you are being treated at the cancer centre, and expect further blood tests and possibly antibiotics.

I have watched my body temperature increase incrementally over the past three days. Last night it hit 101 degrees about 7:00 pm. I waited 5 minutes and took another temperature reading...again 101 degrees. So we packed up and went to the Grand River Hospital's emergency ward.

The waiting room was packed. Even the triage area was packed with people waiting for treatment. But after about 15 minutes, we were taken by a triage nurse and processed. She took my temperature again and it had risen to 101.5 degrees. They registered me immediately and put me in a room to have blood samples taken and to rest until a doctor could see me.

I had to provide a urine sample, then a member of the blood collection team took samples, not from the PICC line but peripherally, meaning directly from a vein in the right arm. Then the emergency ward nurse took more blood samples using the PICC line in order to prepare cultures to study how my blood reacts to various bacteria.

At that point it was on to get chest X-rays again, even though I had already had chest X-rays on Tuesday. I guess this was to make sure my lungs were clear.

Then back again to the emergency room assigned to me to wait for a doctor. Both the nurse and the doctor checked my lungs with stethescopes, but there was nothing noticeably wrong.

After about 3 hours, I was discharged with a prescription for oral antibiotics to be taken for the next 10 days, one each day. If I still have a temperature of 101 degrees or higher after 48 hours, then I should return to the emergency ward.

In the meantime, the blood test results (which didn't show anything unexpected, according to the emergency room doctor) would be forwarded to my medical oncologist who would call me in a day or two to review the blood culture results and possibly prescribe antibiotic or other medications.

For someone who didn't want to visit the hospital for treatment again for a very long time, I have to admit that the visit to the emergency ward was reasonably quick and painless. It was quiet, unlike other times I have been admitted. Being a chemotherapy patient expedites matters, to be sure.

In any case, the high body temperature and possible infection just highlights how careful I will have to be over the next couple of months while still taking chemotherapy (and probably for a couple of months beyond that as well while my blood counts gradually improve).

One other interesting thing occurred while in the triage area. A woman and her husband sat down next to us and she said, "I read your blog everyday." It took a moment for me to realize my photo was on the site and to realize as well that her husband had a PICC line and sleeve on his arm almost identical to mine. She then informed me that her husband has the same form of cancer as I do and was coming to the emergency ward for a fever as well. I was pleased to think that my blog helps other people in my own community, especially people that I would not otherwise meet.
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2 comments: said...

Good morning Don,
We were the couple you met in Emergency last night. Unfortunately we didn't get out of there until 3:30 a.m. as they had a huge number of emergencies arrive.

The treatment for my husband's chemo reaction (rash/fever) were identical to yours and thankfully today the fever has passed.

Thank you for doing this blog - it has been a guideline for me of what may occur for my husband's own journey.

Give your wife my best - hope we meet again but not in emergency.

Don Spencer said...

Good day to you as well!

Emergency wards aren't the best place to get to know someone. But I'm pleased that we both were able to leave with just prescriptions for antibiotics!

My fever has passed as well. I am feeling far better today than I had been feeling over the past 2-3 days.

My blog reflects my own journey, both the good and the bad, but I am very pleased it has helped you and your husband. The entries about my post-operative complications are a little frightening, but for the most part I think the overall impression is one of satisfaction with the medical team helping me and trying to eradicate the cancer.

I sincerely hope we meet again, perhaps in the chemo suite. My treatments are on Wednesdays, so unless your husband's are as well, we might have to hope for another coincidence.

Thanks for writing. Feel free to communicate through email privately at any time.