Pat Killingsworth Pat Killingsworth

Medical Update: Crashing white counts lead to unwanted hospital stay

Friday was interesting.  Pattie took the day off to care for me–or so she said.  She was really there to make sure I saw the doctor.  Sneaky!  I’m on to your tricks, Dear!

But it’s a good thing that she was home.  It turns out that what I thought was soreness and fatigue, caused by Wednesday’s Velcade infusion, was instead a nasty gastrointestinal “bug.”  So what was thought to be a short visit to see my local medical oncologist, Dr. Malhotra, at his clinic, resulted in an unplanned, late night visit to nearby Oak Hill Hospital.

With my fever holding around 102, Dr. Malhotra instantly knew I needed fluids.  But while waiting for my infusion nurse to get started, Dr. Malhotra made a rare infusion room appearance to inform me my white counts had dropped from 2.5, all the way down to 0.9 in a short 30 hours, making me officially neutropenic.

Translation:  He wanted me in the hospital STAT.

REALLY!  Yes I felt very bad.  My stomach had been in knots most of the day.  My diarrhea had for the most part been ignoring my Imodium caplets.

And as it turns-out, I was dehydrated.  Very dehydrated!

How do I know that?  I have the scars from a half dozen failed IV attempts to prove it.

Remember the article I wrote a while back in the Myeloma Beacon, filled with tips for ways to help your tech get a good IV started:

Pat’s Place: Tips For Infusion Days

I guess the two nurses hadn’t read the article.

It tool the nurse in the Florida Cancer Institute infusion room two tries to get my IV started.

But that’s nothing!  My very nice and attentive nures, Teri at the hospital took four tries and then took a time out.  I didn’t request someone else–although she offered.  No, she was very nice and I was worried that she was loosing her confidence.

So she took my advice and we used a hot compress on my opposite hand.  I also asked for a smaller needle.

Worked like a charm!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Back to the dehydration…

A small bag of fluids and electrolytes and I instantly felt a lot better.  And it’s a good thing I got that magic pick-me-up before I headed a half mile down the road to Oak Hill Hospital, because even with written admission orders, it took us over two hours to be admitted!

Considering Dr. Malhotra is associated with the hospital, one would think his written order would do the trick.

Turns-out I needed a private room, due to the neutropenea.  So they needed to clean the room.

Come on!  We sat in the bizarre emergency waiting room lobby from 4 PM until almost 6:30.  Really?  If I had felt as poorly as I did earlier in the day…

Fortunately, my nurse sister-in-law, Mary, drove up to help lift our spirits.  It was nice to see her–and to hear horror stories which probably made the “long wait hall of fame,” including one dialysis patient their clinic sent over to a nearby hospital.  The hospital “lost her” before she could even check-in.  A staffer found her 12 hours later, curled-up and asleep on an emergency room gurney.  And I only had to wait two and a half hours!

I will post a follow-up report on my hospital stay this evening.  For now, I’m feeling a lot better.  I was able to eat breakfast and I don’t seem any worse for wear following two intense doses of IV antibiotics.

Stay tuned!  Feel good and keep smiling–than God I am this morning!  Pat