Yeah, so, I get to have all kinds of firsts thanks to cancer.
For example, on Wednesday night, I got to make my first-ever trip to the ER with a fever of 102. My mother came out to watch the little guy for us, and mighty, mighty good man David drove me to the ER. The doctors saw me immediately. Chemo patients are always fast-tracked, because they don’t want us hanging around sick people. Membership has its privileges, I guess.
Sadly, that’s about when the fast-tracking ended for us. We were in the ER from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., when they finally moved me into a hospital bed. I had no idea I would be staying overnight, so imagine my dismay when overnight turned into two days. I was admitted early Thursday morning, and released Saturday morning.
I was diagnosed with a neutropenic fever. It is not uncommon for chemotherapy patients. My white blood cell were very low, and I had a fever. There was something going on inside my body, but I didn’t have the power to fight it.
Basically, I laid around in a bed for two days while they hooked up antibotics to my port. The doctor told me that some neutropenic patients are in the hospital for as long as three weeks. Damn! He said being young worked in my favor, and I thanked him for thinking 44 is young.
Everyone had to wear masks in my room. Of course, I mean surgical masks, not Halloween masks. Although that would be interesting. And now a nurse in a Ronald Reagan mask is going to give you a shot. “OH MY GOD! I’ve had nightmares like this. It’s happening!”
The first day in the hospital I was so tired from not sleeping in the ER, but you know they never let you sleep. I tried watching a little TV (and I mean little – I needed binoculars to see the scree), but Kaiser doesn’t spend money on a fancy cable package, so if you don’t like shows with a judge yelling at people then you are pretty much out of luck. I mainly listened to the F This Movie podcast, watched videos of Calvin on my phone and waited for my fever to break.
The next day I woke up with no fever, and feeling much more like myself. Good buddies Jess and Beegs came by for a visit, and Jess tried to teach me how to knit. I was so excited. I was doing OK. But then she left, and I pretty much screwed it up right after that, and I don’t know how to fix it. It bums me out, because I was just getting into it. I’m going to have to watch some videos and see if I can get it back on track.
The other first I got to experience was my first-ever panic attack. It was terrifying, and I really hope to never, ever have one again. I’ve never been so scared.
I just had finished eating dinner, and I got a little raised rash on both my arms. I immediately started freaking out, and repeatedly checking all over my body to see if it spread. It was on my legs, too. My heart started pounding, and I was pacing around the room. I called the nurse, and I made David promise that he wouldn’t go home until I was OK. I felt out of control. My hands and feet were tingling. “WHY ARE MY HANDS AND FEET TINGLING?” I had a completely overwhelming fear that I was going to die in the hospital, all alone in my room. It took all my self control no to blurt out, “I’M DYING!”
The nurse came in – a nice young man named Lawrence. The rash was not itchy. My throat was not closing up. He called for a doctor and offered me an Ativan, which is an anxiety med plus anti-nausea med. Thankfully, I was smart enough to take it. The doctor came and assured me that I wasn’t crazy. There is a slight rash. It’s not bad. I can still breathe. They would monitor me and nothing bad was going to happen to me.
After that, I just sat in the bed, breathing, and waiting for the Ativan to kick in and take all this anxiety away. After about 20-30 minutes, I was fine. The rash was almost gone, and so was the anxiety. David held my hand through the whole thing. I’m sure he didn’t know what else to do. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not an anxious person. In fact, I’m really mellow. I’ve usually put on a pretty brave face for all the crazy things I’m going through, whether it’s a mastectomy or chemotherapy. I think this is the first time I felt a true, overwhelming fear that I might die, and it’s certainly the first time I ever let anyone else see me like that. David is so lucky, right?
And, of course, I’m ridiculous, because I’m not going to die. I don’t even have cancer anymore. I’m doing chemotherapy as a precautionary measure. I have it a million times easier than the millions of other folks who are doing chemotherapy but they absolutely have to if they want to live. But panic attacks are not logical. I’m so sorry for the people who panic attacks on a regular basis. They are frightening.
I’m so afraid of some random thing ending my life and taking me away from my boys. I don’t want to be one of the patients that in those awful patient stories you hear like hospital patients who died after eating tainted ice cream.
“Unfortunately, the meatloaf they served in the hospital was tainted, and Sonia, with her low white blood cell count, couldn’t handle it. This is the worst thing to happen to meatloaf since Meatloaf sang with Mitt Romney.”
So anyway, I’m home now. They sent me home with antibotics, and (luckily) I’ve already got some Ativan here, just in case. My oncologist is going to check my white blood cell levels on Thursday, and then we are going to go from there. It’s possible this could delay my next round of chemo. It’s possible he could level the chemo dosage, which would be fine by me.
In other news, I’m shedding like crazy. It’s like Chewbecca lives in this house. Hair is everywhere. I think I’m as mentally prepared as I can be for losing my hair. I’ve bought a few really nice wigs. I think they are super cute. I have no doubt that I will still cry when the time comes to shave it off. It’s going to be hard no matter what. I’m not quite sure what to do next. Do I just wait until it sheds so much that it’s noticeable and then I shave it off? Do I cut my hair even shorter beforehand to prep?
Oh, one more thing, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who is voting for me to be the San Francisco Giants honorary bat girl. I am truly grateful and so overwhelmed by the amount of support. You guys are so goddamn awesome! It really cheered me up when I was in the hospital to see all the shares and everyone offering the support. If you haven’t voted me, please do. I want this. Don’t you want to see me on the field in my orange wig? You know you do. Vote for me!