Update 6: Phase II Complete!

If my chemo treatment where a marathon, this would be the point at which the nipples really start to chafe.

Nipple_Chafing_a_consciousness_raiser

I wrote most of this update from my hospital bed at the UW Medical Center, admittedly not in the best of moods. I was basically stuck there for a week after I had a small fever and was asked to to head to the Emergency Room and the grind was starting to sink in. They are extra cautious with me and fevers because of my really poor immune system right now.

Before I checked out I asked my nurse, “What’s the longest you’ve seen a patient stay up here on this floor?” that being the other Oncology patients.

She said that she’s seen patients go as long as three or four month stints depending on their condition.

With that said, it definitely put some things into perspective for me. Sure, a lot of this situation sucks, but it could be worse.

I had a little mental slip-up into negativity that week and I can say first hand that having a bad attitude really didn’t help me or my family.

I’m thankful to be out, but I’m sure it won’t be my last of this journey.

The good news is that Phase II of my treatment is basically done (yay for progress!) and what a doozie it’s been. In my last post, I mentioned how this phase of treatment was basically two month-long identical regimens placed back-to-back. What’s crazy to me is that I somehow wound up in the hospital at the tail end of both halves.

Blood Counts

As for now, I’m waiting for certain blood counts to recover in my body in order to start my third phase of treatment (I have five phases in total).

I think this stuff is kind of interesting.

Every time I go into the doctors, they draw blood and basically give me a full printout stat sheet of different levels and characteristics of my blood that day.

Blood is made up of all kinds of crazy stuff, so the three stats I pay attention to most are:

Hematocrit (HTC) which is the volume percentage or red blood cells in the blood. Typically, a healthy person will be between 40%-45% on a daily basis. When I do chemo, this count goes way down for me and I have to get a transfusion every time I get below 25% (the lowest I’ve been is 19%) and when it gets low, things just get harder to do.

For instance, walking upstairs to take a shower can feel like an event. When the HTC is low, you have less blood cells carrying oxygen around in your body, so you get fatigued really easily. You also get that woozy feeling of standing up too fast quite often, which is scary if you’re actually in the shower and feel like you’re about to pass out and eat it into the shower door.

Platelets are colorless blood cells that help blood clot. Healthy people walk around with a count of 150-400 thousand. When these get low, you are at big risk for bleeding, meaning if I fall and bonk my head (and it bleeds internally) it could be fatal.

My all time low on record is a 7, which was pretty crazy. I picked a small scab on my back before I went to bed and woke up with a half dollar size blood spot on my shirt (yikes). I have to get platelet transfusions when my levels get down around 10-15 (these transfusions give me hives for some reason – weird).

Neutrophils I believe are a type of white blood cell and are really important for fighting infections. The normal range is between 1.8 – 7.0 thousand, I tend to live on the edge at 0.0 a lot of the time.

When that happens, I’ve become “neutropenic” and at that point, I need to be the bubble boy. I have no immune system at that point, so I’m crazy susceptible to germs and all kinds of other bad things (hence the seriousness around fevers). I have to be careful with handshakes and hugs etc.

“I’m Skinny Legs Brock and I have Cable” 

Referencing the photo I added at the top of this post, I want to leave you guys with a little humor.

With football season in full swing I’ve had some serious time on my hand to contribute to being a good sports fan. It also means I’ve seen every commercial like a million times, but this one really sticks out and makes me laugh every time because I feel his pain!

I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Brock