For those playing along at home, you know that yesterday was another Chemo Wednesday. Due to the two-day Rosh Hashannah holiday, we knew the hospital would be in full Ridiculous Mode due to the fact that no treatment was being given on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Add to that the need for a pre-chemo blood test, which I normally get done the day before, which was not possible due to the holiday. As a result, I woke up extra early to get the blood drawn at my local clinic and, once the results were available, I faxed them in to the oncology unit and proceeded to the hospital.
While en-route, I received a call from one of the lovely receptionists (seriously; I love them) who told me that my white blood cell count was way too low and I shouldn’t come in for treatment. As we were only about 15 minutes away from the hospital, I decided to continue along to deal with any rescheduling in person.
Once we arrived, I checked in with the nurse who explained that the white cell count was really way too low. She suggested I speak with one of the oncologists on duty to discuss rescheduling, which we did but, since my oncologist had office hours, I decided it best to try to speak to her, as well. I called her nurse who had Dr. Hubert come out to speak to me. First thing she wanted was a new blood test. Once that was done, she said that one of the oncologists in the chemo unit should call her to determine next steps.
Sure enough, the new test showed a slight increase in my white cells, but still not enough to administer chemo. So, we sat with one of the oncologists on duty – a lovely Russian fellow who spoke no English and whose Hebrew was difficult to understand, at best. The answer was for me to receive two injections of Neupogen 24 hours apart, that would help boost white cell production, after which I would go back to the hospital very early Sunday to have another blood test done and, assuming all is well, get treatment early enough so that I would be able to get unhooked two days later, before the Yom Kipur holiday.
It is worth it to note that no one I spoke to seemed at all concerned about my low white blood cell count. This is, according to all the medical folks I spoke to, par for the course with chemo patients. The only thing that might be considered odd is that this is the first time it’s happened to me.
So what do we learn from all this? I think that, in addition to finding parking, dealing with cancer and chemotherapy requires flexibility, as well as the ability and willingness to change your plans at the last minute. True, it was an annoying – and long – day, but we were able to see my oncologist without an appointment, see our family doctor with a last-minute appointment (to get the prescription entered into the system), talk to one of the local nurses who offered to come to our home to give me the injections, get to the pharmacy and have the first of two injections done, all before the day was over.
Not bad for an unexpected day’s work.