Night at the Emerg

Was I too cocky? I certainly jumped the gun by posting chemo #2 – check, on facebook, when chemo #2 wasn’t even finished. Still had one hour of Benda – we’re on a nick name basis now – left to go the following morning. But it went so smooth. I got home, had a work meeting with a friend, had dinner. But by the time I got into bed at 10:15 my head was killing me and I was queezy.

I must have dozed between then and 12:30 when I woke up with a fever of 37.5 (aka a medical emergency in chemo land). I called Telehealth just to chat and be interviewed, then my co-parent Rob, came to fetch me.

It was so fucking cold. I put on long underwear, jeans, a thermal top, a thick boiled wool sweater that once belonged to my friend Megan’s dad, winter socks, boots, 10 feet of scarf, wool toque – trying to contain the chill, and went to Mt Sinai.

As expected, I got priority treatment – chemo protocol, and was quickly given a bed. 

“Take off everything on top and put on a gown.”

‘Everything? But it’s freezing.”

“You have a fever. You’re wearing too much.”

At some point in the night, as the fever rose to 39.6 (103+), I shed my boots, my pants, my socks,

Got my second IV of the day, my second set of blood samples taken. Had my second chest x-ray in 2 months. This time to rule out pneumonia. Had a long Q-tip stuck way up my nose in search of flu. Had my temperature taken about 14 times by the nurses and a sweet medical student (we’re talking 3rd year, not an intern or a resident) who didn’t know how any of the equipment worked. The thermometer battery was broken but she kept trying, telling me to close my mouth or it wouldn’t work but I couldn’t breathe because my nose was stuffed.

They gave me anti nausea meds and 2 bags of saline that went straight to my face. When I shuffled to the bathroom I was shocked by how puffy I was. (I take it as a good sign that my vanity remains intact.)

The nurse came by for my urine specimen. The one no one bothered to tell me about. Too late, just peed that out.

She smiled and waved a plastic container at me. “I’ll just leave it here.”

I’m so exhausted and feverish that in the 3 seconds between the request and the waving of the sample bottle, I forgot what she asked for.

My fever finally broke at 5:30 am after a failed attempt with Tylenol and a successful one with Motrin.

I was discharged at 7:30 and told I’d be called if they found any fever boosting culprits.

I can now say I contributed to the education of a med student who had yet to encounter anyone on chemo with a rising fever. Happy to help.

“Emerg is fun,” she told me. To each their own. That’s why some people become doctors and some become writers.

They could have repaid my generosity with a couple of Motrin to go, but there would be none of that.

“They sell it at the drug store. Over the counter.” I know.

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