Nothing about either of my blood cancer bouts has been normal or predictable. I am getting scared to give news because, good or bad, I’m probably going to contradict it in a couple days.
In this case, the good news from my last post remains good news. I am in remission from leukemia. A bit of bad news also turned into good news. When I went to Vanderbilt on Tuesday for round 5 of chemo, my white blood cell counts were way down, and my neutrophils—the part of the immune system that fights bacteria—were basically at zero. As a result, Vanderbilt’s doctors gave up on giving me any more chemo. “The PET scan says you’re in remission, we’ve given you a round since the PET scan, let’s not beat up your body any worse than we have.”
They sent me home with a drug called neupogen that boosts blood counts, still not really knowing why my counts were down.
I took four doses, one each Tuesday through Friday. Then Friday evening, I started getting nauseous, then vomiting, and my temperature started climbing.
Off to the emergency room again. My wife complains that I always choose a weekend to go to the emergency room. It’s the only consistency we have had in either the leukemia or the lymphoma adventures. It’s always Friday night or Saturday when I go to the emergency room; always.
“Weird” is the word the infectious disease doctor (IDD) used today talking to me. She saw me three or four weeks ago for a week-long fever. The cause was never discovered, but she played with antibiotics for a week until one worked. She sent me home on that, and we kept the fever at bay for three weeks or so until day before yesterday.
This fever broke Saturday morning. I feel great and energetic, but the IDD wants to know what’s happening to me. We don’t really know that my blood counts will stay up. I have had blood-boosting shots, really powerful ones, the last five days. It will take a few days to know if my body can sustain my counts on its own.
So here’s the plan. I get some sort of scan tomorrow that the IDD called a “PET scan without a PET scan.” She says that if the scan comes back negative, “Maybe you’ll have recurring fevers for the rest of your life.”
I hope she was joking.