This is a condition where the number of white blood cells, also known as neutrophils, in the bloodstream are decreased. Neutropenia reduces the body’s ability to fight off infection. When a patient has a very low white blood cell count he or she is said to be neutropenic. Chemotherapy can cause neutropenia.
What does this mean for the patient?
The patient must stay away from anyone with a cough or cold. Fresh flowers must be removed from the house. No raw foods such as salads or sushi can be consumed.
The patient must report to the caregiver if his or her temperature goes over 38.0. Often neutropenia means that chemotherapy must be held for a week or so.
Neutropenia – Emma’s explanation. (Emma is not a doctor. Emma is merely a very pissed off patient): Neutropenia is a complete pain in the ass – end of.
I was beginning to deflate. I was coming down off the painkillers little by little. I was starting to feel as if I might actually reach a point where I’m not in pain as I get into my bed each night and as I tip myself out if it again the following morning. Every day for the first few minutes after waking I’m like a wooden dolly learning to walk. All my joints ache and my body screams at me to make the pain stop.
But even that was beginning to abate! I was turning into a normal person once more!
In other words, the chemotherapy was working. The magic was happening once again – praise the Lord.
But then the devil decided to play a little game with my bone marrow. He took over and has been having a ball ever since…
Two weeks ago I couldn’t have chemotherapy because I needed a platelet transfusion. So two pools of platelets were sourced from the blood bank and I thank the selfless person who was wonderful enough to donate them. That was the platelet box ticked.
Last week my chemotherapy had to be held again because my haemoglobin was dangerously low, I needed two blood transfusions. So I spent the day being pumped with blood that had been donated, yet again by another very kind soul.
I kept my spirits up by telling myself that this week couldn’t possibly be an issue. I’ve been in better fettle than I have been in years. I’ve been walking with mum and Herbie the dog, baking, writing and generally feeling an awful lot better. I was acting like a real person again!
This morning I was in the day unit nice and early because Cisplatin, the type of chemotherapy I’m on, requires me to have several litres of IV fluids prior to treatment.
So I got two large bags of fluids, I don’t know how they affect other patients, but all that liquid makes me feel as if I’m a space hopper that is being filled and filled and filled and I might pop at any moment. The night after chemo, I usually pee for Ireland.
As I was almost finished the second bag of fluid this morning, the bomb was dropped in my little world. I was told I couldn’t have treatment again. This time I’m neutropenic!
It’s hard to describe just how disappointing it is to be told that the magic chemo juice that is working cannot be given. In ten years of being in Blackrock Clinic, today was the closest I came to throwing myself on the floor and sobbing. It’s such a let down. I guess there’s a certain amount of psychological build up to get through a chemo session. So to be told it can’t happen after all is just awful. It’s like that feeling as a child when you find out there’s a party and you weren’t invited. Or imagine finding out that Santa isn’t coming this year. I know that may sound really dramatic to non-oncology patients, but sadly there’s a group of people out there who might know what I mean.
I visualise neutropenia as gangs of tiny green slimy monsters with sticky-out uneven teeth, with snatching gelatinous hands that grab my pristine little white cells and make snorting noises as they gobble them up. Bastards.
So today I was sent home, yet again, to allow my blood to recover.
There’s nothing I can actually do to aid recovery. Nothing I can eat or drink.
The frustration is so hard to take.
The sense of helplessness is infuriating. Also, I’ll have no idea until next week if I’m going to be allowed treatment then either. I can’t look in the mirror and say ‘ah yes, I have yellow and purple spots on my cheeks, so that means I’m neutropenic.’ The only way of telling is by taking bloods.
This is all very whiny and moany. I apologise for being so negative, but it’s been one of those crappy days.
I’ve been trying desperately to loose a bit of weight – yet again, that was happening while I was on the chemo – but today, in an action of utterly childish behaviour I ran into my house and ate a load of Toblerone. Hubby was away and brought one of the massive ones back, so I stuffed my face with it.
Now I feel the chocolate guilts as well.
Do you know what? I think I’ll go to the vet and be put down tomorrow. That might be a better plan…
Speaking of the vet – Tom the cat is doing great. He has little spells outside where he thoroughly enjoys his al fresco wee wee’s. But I’ve to careful that Herbie doesn’t see him. He gets so ridiculously excited that his old pal is outside with him that he almost mashes him into the grass.
I’m delighted Halloween is over. It was like a war zone in Bray for the last few nights and the animals were terrified. There were some fabulous displays of sparkly colour bursting into the inky sky and I love those.
Our two are too old for trick or treating which made me a bit sad for a few years. But I’m so over that now! All I want is for November to hurry up and pass by so I can start putting up Christmas trees. The first one up will be my new white one with the soldiers standing around it. I’ll take a picture of course.
I’d say Santa is getting pretty hassled now. There’ll be a lot of packing of the sleigh, then taking it all out and starting again, while having a row with Mrs Clause and telling her he knows how to do it. A bit like packing the car for going to the airport on the family holiday but he has to pack for the whole world! I hope he doesn’t get caught for being over weight with his luggage…
I hope your week has turned out to be better than mine. I really hope that next week will be more positive and that the chemotherapy can get going again. Then I promise I’ll be less whingy.
Have a great weekend, we’re nearly there.
Love and light