Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't get into a war when you have no armies

I'm sorry that my posts are so widely spaced.  A friend told me the other day that I needed to post more often so people wouldn't worry.  I will try to do better.

This round of chemotherapy has been challenging.  It started out pretty normal but then when I expected to start rebounding and regaining my strength...I didn't.  I managed to catch a cold, that didn't help.  I have never enjoyed having a cold but catching one when you have a white cell count of "zero" is a whole new experience.  Wow!  I am now very impressed with the importance of the immune system.  After a few days and a fever and some chiding from my sister in law, I decided to call the doctor.  They took a blood sample and after checking my fever they started wagging fingers at me as well.  They wanted to know why I hadn't called earlier and I gave them a very logical answer "I didn't want to bother  you"  The nurse didn't like that answer at all and told me "It's guys like you that end up septic"  Hmmm, I need to come up with a better answer for that question in the future.  Maybe something like "I was being held captive by Taliban terrorists" would work better.

So, the nurse practitioner took a look and told me that my blood work was lousy.  Basically no white blood cells and way too few red blood cells as well.  I had been fainting the last few days and she said that was because my blood didn't have enough cells to get air to my brain.  She was confused about why the drugs they were giving me had failed to bring up my blood counts like they were supposed to.  You would think that since that shot costs $4000 each it would work a little better.  I need to check and see if they offer a guarantee or something.  She then sent me down for a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia and then told me that my lungs were clear but that I had two broken ribs.  By this time I was wondering if they were really mixing up my tests with someone else.  I told her, "I really don't feel that bad and my ribs certainly don't hurt."  She showed me the pictures and told me, "Well you should feel lousy and your ribs should hurt, maybe your'e just used to feeling lousy and now you think it is normal".  I'm not sure if that was supposed to make me feel better or not.  Well, they shot me full of antibiotics and gave a shot of something called "Epogen".  It's supposed to make your body make more red blood cells and will now disqualify me for the Tour de France for at least a year.  Darn it!  The next day they sent me to the hospital for two bags of "packed red blood cells".  It looked a lot like ketchup to me but I'm taking their word on it.

Where did I put my fibula?
I began to feel a little bit better and then on Saturday I got an infection in the skin graft of my leg where they harvested the fibula bone.  We sent a picture to my surgeon at Mayo and he didn't like what he saw so back to the hospital we went.  They didn't like it either and decided to keep me in the hospital for a day or two on IV antibiotics until it was resolved.  An x-ray of my leg showed that the infection hadn't gotten to the cut bone ends yet, thank Heavens.  They wanted another x-ray of my lungs.  They came in and told me again about my broken ribs, "I know, I know" was all I could say and "no, they don't hurt".  By Sunday they were talking about still keeping me longer and I told them that I was due to perform an important surgery the next morning and it had already been rescheduled twice.  They finally agreed to let me go if I would stay on IV antibiotics and have a nurse teach JoLynne how to hang the drugs.  That worked for me, we finally got discharged at about midnight.

Bald is beautiful....or something
On Wednesday I was supposed to start another round of chemotherapy.  The doctor took more blood and said that everything was still really low.  By the way, I figured out part of why my blood levels are so low.  Every time I turn around somebody wants two or three more test tubes full to look at.  I think the problem is that I am running out because they keep draining me.  Anyway, he was unwilling to start chemo again until the blood work looked better so I got put off a week.  I was disappointed because that means it will take me longer to be done but it didn't seem to be a matter for discussion.  He did say that my chemo dosage was probably too high and that was the reason that I was not rebounding on schedule.

Well, every day since then I am slowly feeling better.  My strength is returning, I have quit fainting, my appetite is improving, my cold is slowly getting better.  On Friday we went to wound care clinic and the doctor looked at my leg and had some good ideas about how to help it heal.  He picked up some cutting tool and said, "this is where I get even with dentists".  Yikes!  Little did he know, my leg is numb in the surgery site so it didn't hurt at all.  I guess he will have to get even on somebody else.  It was kind of gross to watch while he sliced away all the surface of my wound.  Even though it was disgusting I couldn't quit watching.  Morbid fascination I guess.

Today was Sunday and I felt great.  I was able to help with a ward conference and attend all my meetings.  I even did temple recommends this evening.  I think I had four servings of dinner.  I have two days to try and gain seven pounds.  Bring it on!  JoLynne won't let me eat anything that has less than 700 calories.  It's really weird shopping with her.  It's like I have been transported to a nutritional alternate universe.  I'm just grateful to feel well.  Hopefully this Wednesday I will feel well enough to get get chemo and get sick again.


  1. Uncle Eric, I love you so much. You're in our prayers and thoughts always. Keep on trucking - you are doing Great!!
    Love you.
    Candace Burch & Family

  2. I heard about your fainting!! I am glad to hear that has stopped. I hope you continue to feel better. Have a good day!! :) (PS- Bald IS beautiful! William is still part of the bald group!!)

  3. It is good to hear from you on your blog. It sounds like you are getting to know your body inside and out all to well. Keep up the good work and good attitude. Our prayers and thoughts are will you

  4. Sorry about the Tour de France. I was really hoping to see you race this year. :-)

    Hang in there!

  5. What a huge bump in the road for you Eric. Our prayers have been upped a couple notches for you. Hope you're back to "normal" soon. Nice photos! You look a bit like the King from The King and I. No one's head must be higher than yours!