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Another unscheduled visit to hospital

By Gillian

Chris has been feeling odd all day today, but managed to eat a good breakfast (his famous scrambled eggs) and a full lunch – though we decided to stay at home for lunch rather than going to our favourite pub as we had originally planned, since we were both feeling well below par. However, after lunch he got really cold and shivery – even sitting next to the radiator, wrapped up in shawls and a blanket, he was still shivering. Then he threw up spectacularly and very, very copiously. But we took his temperature, and it was under 37 degrees so I wasn’t too concerned. In fact, after a short rest lying down on the sofa, he was well enough to watch the rugby match on the TV, as Wales trampled all over Italy.

We had planned to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching the other two Six Nations rugby matches today, but it wasn’t to be.  He started feeling worse again, so we took his temperature and found he was running a fever of 38.2 degrees. The standing orders from the hospital are that if ever his temperature gets above 38 degrees, we need to call the chemotherapy helpline for further instructions. So I phoned them up and explained the situation, and they said that they wanted him to come in straight away for immediate treatment.

That was a bit of a problem. My GP has been tweaking my antidepressant medicine (I went into deep shock followed by clinical depression when Chris was diagnosed) and wanted me to try a new drug that she said would help me sleep. Well, it certainly did, and in fact I was still like a zombie late this afternoon. So I did not feel safe to drive – I was struggling to keep my eyes open. And the hospital could not send an ambulance for Chris for at least four hours, which was far too late to get him the help he clearly needed. So once again we had to call on friends to help out, and Richard willingly agreed to sacrifice his Saturday afternoon and evening to take us to Cheltenham hospital. Thank you so much Richard – it’s such a comfort knowing that we can call on you (and indeed the rest of your family)  for help when we’re stuck!

At the hospital the nursing staff and duty oncologist went through the usual routine of blood tests, urine samples, blood pressure etc plus a chest X-ray which was a new one for us. I think they were looking for a lung infection, but in fact the X-ray looked normal. His temperature was still high and he “felt like crap”, but the blood tests showed that he was not neutropenic, that is his white cell counts were close to normal and should therefore be capable of fighting off an infection. They had found a bed for him and would have admitted him if his blood counts had been low. However, his temperature was reducing and he felt slightly better so the oncologist decided that the best place for him was his own bed. He sent us home with some horse-pill-sized broad-spectrum antibiotics and Chris went straight to bed.

I’m under instructions to keep an eye on him and if he gets worse or has another fever, I’m to take him straight back into hospital. So I’ll just stick to my old medication and won’t take another of my new pills tonight as I want to be clear-headed tomorrow. I’m just not prepared to take the risk of being caught out again by being unfit to drive in an emergency.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. CattusMagnus | 22 March 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    I have been taking Tofranil for a number of years and it helps me sleep quite well. It’s an older medication and it’s not prescribed very often here in the US, but it works for me. Changing antidepressants is such a ball isn’t it? 🙂

  2. Gillian | 22 March 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ll certainly be talking to my doctor about alternatives and their side effects. There is just no point in taking something that knocks me out the next day too – my employer pays me to think and make decisions, and Chris needs me to be alert enough to step in if he has another problem. But then if I don’t sleep at night I’m not much use the next day either…… It’s a difficult balancing act.