Neutropenia & Cravings

The chemo knocked me back last weekend. I felt like a VW bug with two flat tires trying to climb a hill. I was underpowered, made a lot of noise, and went nowhere. No matter how I sat or lay, the discomfort knotted a different muscle. My cramping bladder tightened an already short leash. Both feet swelled like water balloons. Moderate pain persisted day and night as my kidneys strained to wring out every last drop of the medicine’s venom.

Still getting out and looking for the real Seattle in alleys
Still getting out and looking for the real Seattle in alleys

Worse, however, was the malaise, which plastered me to the bed and couch. Even reading seemed laborious, though today an Annie Proulx short story rejuvenated my interest in the bleak miseries of mankind. LOL, I am not alone. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. In for penny, in for a pound, I guess. When we chose to do this page my intention was to tell it like it is. In short, I hate that the poison gets to have its way with me.

I’ve had a junkie’s appetite. Among my weird cravings are Red Vines Licorice and a MacDonald’s Fish sandwich, oozing with high-density lipoprotein tartar sauce. These, fortunately, are on Marilyn’s “NO” list. Instead, I survive on fruit cups, SoBe drinks, and crackers. On the bright side, these are things I know how to cook. My saltines with peanut butter have panache.

Marilyn endures my bad company gracefully. She does not complain or worry or pity. She takes care of business. Best of all, she walks the fine line between doting and caregiving. That is a serious achievement. It keys us to powering through. Aside from this chapter, How We Spent Our Summer Vacation continues to be a happy story. The setback is temporary.

Nude cyclists; how wonderfully frivolous!
Nude cyclists; how wonderfully frivolous!

Yesterday and today I am better. Nonetheless, recovery comes with rest. I set modest goals: give blood, get shots, and read. My daily CBC indicates I am neutropenic. In other words, my white blood cell count is near zilch. Zero is the goal. In the irony-laden world of oncology nursing, I receive praise for this vulnerability. The process necessitates threat and parry. Their advice is to avoid crowds and not to go out to eat. My immune system is nearly gone (represented by the WBC) and declined Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Now, each afternoon I pop a strong dose of antibiotics for protection.

We’re on target. Soon, fresh white blood cells will replace the old. CD-34 stem cells will populate my blood stream like hatchery trout ready to be fished out. The protocol for this is strict. They have a number in mind. The answers can’t hide. Perhaps by the weekend I can complete the process began with last week’s chemo.

In closing, after the chemo, I weighed 197.6 lbs. Monday morning I weighed 182.2. I lost 15+ pounds in five days. I could write a bestselling diet book! Please submit your title ideas.

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