Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Power of Neutropenic Fevers

Maybe it's the yearning for the long summer days to continue on forever. Or maybe it's the anticipation of having a holly jolly holiday season in just a few months time. Whatever it is, there is something distinctly special about the last lingering days of this beautiful season. Friday night, for example, was a perfect night. It was the kind of warm night which begs you to go for a walk, a walk in which you will break the finest of sweats.

Alan and I walked around in our glowing skins, watching the sun sink in the sky, before we decided to get some dinner. At the restaurant, I ordered a glass of soybean milk and, as I sipped it, I noticed Alan's eyes, specifically, the whites of his eyes which had somehow managed to turn nearly completely red. He didn't seem too bothered by it though; what did bother him was the blistering cold of the restaurant. Sitting in my sleeveless shirt, I hadn't noticed it was cold at all. As I marveled over the refreshing qualities of my iced beverage, Alan closed his menu and ordered a piping hot soup.

On the drive home, Alan turned up the heat to full blast. When we got home, he climbed into bed and pulled two comforters over him, then he huddled in a ball buried beneath them. I wiped away the sweat that had formed on my brow just from watching him broil in his homemade cocoon.

Alan was running a temperature of 102. The advice nurse he called said that was much too high, was way above 99.9, and that he needed to get himself to the emergency room as soon as possible. We hopped in the car and away we went, through the automatic double doors and into the room of people with pressing medical matters. And here is where I learned an important life lesson: the fastest way to be seen at the ER is to tell them that you are a cancer patient on chemo and that you're running a 102 degree fever. This got Alan in fast, super fast, faster even than the tweaker guy who couldn't stop scratching himself and who kept staring at his fingers like they might eat him.

Masks were donned, blood was drawn and pee was collected. Half a novel later, near 3 am, the doctors decided Alan could go home. All the lab results were in, and none showed signs of infection. We were advised that as long as no other symptoms cropped up and accompanied the fever, he should be fine. No one thought the blood shot eyes was anything to worry about either, so we went home, taking his temperature with us.

As we drifted off into sleep that night, I dreamt that I was floating down a cool river, basking in the intense orange warmth of the last days of summer. When I woke up, I realized the river I had felt was Alan's sweat that had soaked the sheets through, and the sun that had been wrapped around me was actually his body lying next to mine, radiating such a brilliant heat that I wondered if I shouldn't get up to put on some sunscreen.

19 comments:

(Non) Fictionizer said...

Hi Sobrina. My wife and I are in the midst of an argument about a bulldog puppy. Thanks for dissolving it with the glaring perspective of this nugget...and for adding the terms 'neutropenic' and 'tweaking' to my ever growing vocabulary of medical terms since starting to read you blog. : )

Cham said...

I had to go look up "neutropenic", and even though it is now also in my vocabulary, I doubt I'll use it any time soon. Hopefully it will be one of those things that lie dormant until required. Like first aid splints and tourniquets. That will just come right back as clear as the day I learned about it in 8th grade health class, right? Right?

Paulina said...

You are a beautiful writer. I hope Alan gets over his fever ASAP.

Erin P said...

Oh geez, I hope Alan gets better. Just in case you need it, a quick ER admission can also be had with profuse bleeding, chest pain and shortness of breath (a little bit of sweat adds to that one), and bleeding while pregnant. I hope you never need it.

Shelby said...

Sobrina,
I love your blog. You had commented in mine about hoping it didn't rain on my wedding day, well it didn't, and I now have pictures posted. :]

Hope Alan is feeling bettter.

I'm Kim, by the way said...

I hope, I so hope, Alan is feeling better. Best wishes to both of you.

Suzanne Denning said...

I am so sorry for the life trauma you are having. You seem to be able to endure & share with all of us this mnost private part of your life. You will write a beautiful book for us one day with hopefully a very happy ending. Many prayers for your courage & for healing.

Razzberry Corner said...

Take care, dear Alan & Sobrina. May you both be strong & may Alan recover quickly. He is a lucky young man to have you by his side!
-Lynn

Sobrina Tung said...

(Non) Fictionizer -- I wish we could be having an argument about a bulldog puppy! We so want a dog (entertaining the idea of an English bulldog) but don't have enough room for one :( Also, I killed my cactus. That can't be good -- who manages to kill cacti???

Cham, that is impressive you learned about splints and stuff in eighth grade! All I remember learning in eighth grade health was that now was the time we should all start thinking about wearing deodorant.

Paulina -- thank you :)

Erin P - that is good to know. In case the threat of a neutropenic fever doesn't work next time, Alan is so going to throw down the bleeding while pregnant card! :D

Thanks everyone for the well wishes... his fever is coming down and his oncologist hasn't called back in a frantic frenzy yet, so I think this will pass soon.

Giovanna Iorio said...

Buona notte. I think Rome as a fever too tonight, it is so hot that nobody can sleep- I hope Alan recovers soon.
:))
Giovanna

Karin said...

Sorry that you guys had to rush to the ER. I hope Alan gets better soon. :(

(Non) Fictionizer said...

Well...if it will help make things better for you guys, and seeing as you've asked so nicely...I'm sure I can find it in myself to argue with you about a bulldog puppy too! = : ) In all seriousness, I really hope Alan manages to have many consecutive days of normality after this spell. You both deserve it.

Victoria said...

You are a wonderful writer! I have subscribed to I can continue to read your beautiful words!

Thank you

Marshall Scott Naylor said...

I really liked that post especially the description of blend of the dream with the reality.

2busy said...

Chemo - It saves lives and gets you to the front of the line. Priceless.

bored.mind said...

i hope alan feels better now sobrina. il be praying for his fast recovery. have a great day! :)

Sobrina Tung said...

Giovanna, everytime I read a comment from you I am whisked away into another place where the lights twinkle at night and people drink red wine and eat stuffed mushrooms. That's what I picture people to be doing in Rome anyway, and if it's true, I will be coming over shortly. :P

Shaista said...

Sobrina, as always you write so poignantly - the writers I admire the most are ones like yourself who can in a breath capture the humour and poignancy of life. Always inspiring to read you.
If I am ever in a relationship, I would want to find someone like you who could cope with my illness with such a spirit of honesty and laughter!

Sobrina Tung said...

Thanks shaista, sometimes there is nothing left to do but try to laugh :)

also, he's out there waiting for you! Have you seen 500 days of summer?? He's out there!

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