Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0274 - Chemo and Blood Counts

I'm sitting in the chemo suite at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre having had my blood drawn already and waiting to see if my blood counts are acceptable for my 5th chemo treatment.

This waiting period (sometimes referred to as a chemo holiday) is a good news / bad news scenario. The good news is that I'm not experiencing side effects directly related to chemotherapy. The bad news is that I've been very susceptible to infection and I have had to take 10 days of antibiotic treatment for a fever from a generalized infection which the doctors were unable to locate.

As I write, the nurse has just come by with the blood counts from this morning's blood draw. The results were fantastic! I can't believe how quickly the improvement occurred. In just 2 weeks of delay for me to recuperate, my absolute neutrophil count jumped from .9 to 6.3, the highest it's been all year! Similarly for white blood counts and platelet counts. Even hemoglobin counts are up somewhat.

So on we go with treatment number five.

Maybe I'm a sucker for statistics, but the counts relayed to me this morning have made my day. I haven't felt much better, but I guess that's just another indication of how critical these scientific measures are in the treatment protocol. Over the past couple weeks, I've had very disruptive sleep patterns, far too frequent bowel movements, and substantial fatigue. But however I might have felt physically, it's clear that the delay did wonders for my recuperative powers. Probably the antibiotics had some effect as well.

In any case, I feel ready to tackle chemotherapy again and get this phase over with.

I've figured out how to make these long sessions easier to endure as well. I've tried watching DVD movies, listening to my iPod, using my Pocket PC, and chatting with the volunteers. Suffice to say that 5-7 hours in the chemo suite requires multiple tactics. Today, I am working with my notebook computer while waiting and getting my infusions. This means I can respond to email from my place of employment, check backups and configurations on the servers, process and organize my calendar and task lists, plan departmental strategies - generally get things done that would be difficult, if not impossible, while onsite at work where I am far too available for IT-related interruptions!

So, it appears that today is a very good day. As one of the volunteers, herself a lung cancer survivor, and I commisserated, any day above ground is a good day.

Let's raise a glass to health!

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