"You need to go to the ER right now. We will call and let them know you are
Not exactly the words I wanted to hear late Friday afternoon after suffering
with a fever for two days. But the nurses at the Hickman Center Clinic made it
abundantly clear...fever means infection...and chemo patients with suppressed
immune systems are vulnerable to things spinning out of control. So get to the
The good news is...my stay in the ER was relatively short. The bad news
is...I was then admitted to Flower Hospital for four days where I was hooked up to antibiotic
IVs...a veritable buffet of hanging bags of medicine until they figured out what
specific type of bug was causing my infection and fever.
It is a bit disconcerting to find out you have been admitted to the hospital
on a night when they are under something called Red Bed Alert...meaning all the
beds are full...most likely with flu patients. Nothing like sending a fragile
chemo patient into the heart of darkness. Which is why I was put in
Can I just say...there is nothing isolating about being in Isolation. I had
more people coming and going in my room...and at all hours of the night. It
seemed like every twenty minutes someone was taking my temperature and checking
my blood pressure. My thought was...why don't you people just ask the last
person who was in here...the one you just passed in my isolation hallway.
Needless to say, with all that constant monitoring and checking...I wasn't
getting a lot of REM sleep. And when I don't get good sleep...I can be very
cranky. So I apologize to the parade of people who worked tirelessly to get me
back on my feet. And when I say a parade...
It started with a "hospitalist" ...the doctor who becomes your family doctor
in the hospital if your GP does not have privileges there. My hospitalist was
adorable. He could tell I was not really enjoying the food. Is there another
white meat that is sort of... off-white? Anyway, when he learned I like
Lebanese food he promised to have his wife make me some homemade hummus and he
would bring it in to me. And sure enough, the next day, he arrived with the
hummus, tabouli, pita bread, fried kibbi and an assortment of baklava! Wow!
What a sweet man!
Then I met my infectious disease doctor...the one trying to figure out what
bug was bugging me. Turns out...Ecoli was the culprit. Ecoli! Does that mean
I have to go home and empty my refrigerator? No. Everyone has Ecoli floating
around in their system. But chemo patients may not be able to fight it. That's
me. And the Ecoli is usually found in the urinary tract...or in my case...the
bowels. What fun. WARNING: if this kind of discussion makes you
uncomfortable, you can stop reading right now. But I find it to be the most
amusing part of my stay.
Meet the proctologist. At first it was thought I had some sort of an
abcess. And the proctologist's philosophy is: "I do not let the sun set on an
abcess." Really? Because it's in a place where the sun don't...okay
nevermind. What it means...I would have to have surgery right away...platelets
would have to be ordered from the Red Cross. It would be all systems go. But
just to make sure...the doctor would perform an exam right there in my room.
Probably best that I had little warning that he was "going in". He gloved
up...and boom! The shout heard round the room! I was so tense I was afraid he
was not going to be able to extracate himself. All I could picture in my head
was...Hillbilly Handfishin. You know those guys who catch those giant catfish
using nothing but their hands...sometimes the fish is all the way up to the
guy's elbow and beyond. That's me and my proctologist. I felt like the catch o' the day. Turns out, I did not
have an abcess. No surgery. Whatever is causing my issues can be delayed for a
future colonoscopy. Oh boy, can't wait.
And then finally my beloved oncologist arrived. He always calms me down and
puts things in perspective for me. This event is just a bump in the road. A
lot of chemo patients go through similar hospital stays in order to get them
over an infection. And infections happen often. My gastro issues are probably
related to the EColi...which is related to the chemo. Not unusual.
And so, after all the antibiotic IVs, a potassium drip...oh, and a blood
transfusion...I am out of the hospital and on the mend. It definitely takes a
village to successfully treat a chemo patient