John continues to be a star patient at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Yesterday’s blood draw showed zero neutrophils and a barely perceptible white blood count. For you medical neophytes, this means he has zero resistance to infection. Fortunately his red blood cells and hematocrit are still hanging in there – below normal but able to provide some energy reserves. Under the guidance of the SCCA staff, we follow the protocols that we hope will keep him free of infection and out of the hospital.
John gets 11/2 liters of IV fluid daily and takes a handful of antiviral, antibacterial and antiemetic medications to keep the bad guys at bay. The docs and nurses watch him like a hawk and have an extensive backup system in place should anything go awry. His blood pressure dropped yesterday after a morning shower, and the doc said to take the shuttle home and elevator up the stairs. By today, though, we knew to start the IV fluids early, and John was able to walk back and forth to the clinic AND up the 99 steps.
If I didn’t know better, I might think John was pregnant based on his food cravings. As one who tries to be disciplined in my eating habits, I have a hard time going to the grocery and picking up Carnation Instant Breakfast. But that’s what the patient requested, and sure enough it tasted good. I haven’t brought myself to read the list of ingredients, but I’m pretty sure No. 1 is sugar.
That’s about all the excitement I have to report. These last several years have certainly been an ongoing exercise in letting go – of expectations, routines, ego, fears, attachments, plans, and yes, a few dreams. We have been permanently thrown out of any sort of comfort zone, and find ourselves regularly venturing into the unknown. It seems like every day I find myself doing something I would not have otherwise chosen, like buying Carnation Instant Breakfast.