We knew it was going to happen at some stage. We even have an emergency bag packed and ready for just this occasion. The dreaded fever, enhanced by chemotherapy.
Saturday morning started normally enough, other than a bit of a sore throat I was feeling good. We were excited about going to a friends wedding celebration that night. We headed out for haircuts and to buy some new clothes for the event. We were going to look shmick!!! By 2pm I started to feel as though I was getting sick. The aching bones and chills cut our shopping adventure short. But I was certain that all I needed was to rehydrate and have a bit of a nap. I would be fine for the nights events at 7pm.
On arriving home I checked my temperature, 35.4. Perfectly fine!! Whilst resting I could feel myself getting worst so I continued to monitor my temperature. 36.1, 36.7, 37.4, 37.9…..oh crap!! 6.30pm came around and it was time to make a decision about heading out. One final check of the temperature…..38.7….crap!! Time to call the nurse. She didn’t mix her words, get to the hospital….leave now….call an ambulance on the way if anything changes. So we grabbed the bag and off we went.
Thankfully, when I start undergoing chemotherapy I was given a medical emergency card. On arrival to an emergency department of a hospital, I simply present this card which lets the staff know that I need to be treated quickly. It worked perfectly in this case. I was admitted straight away, no waiting at all, with a temperature of 39.1. I was assessed and had blood cultures taken. I was then moved into the emergency ward and hooked up to an IV to deliver antibiotics. At this stage I had to give a throat swab. This is done by the nurse pushing a thin wiry implement with a small cotton tip up your nose until it reaches the back of your throat. Not pleasant!!! I was this informed that I was to wear a mask at all times to ensure I didn’t spread what ever I had and to protect me from further infections.
I was in the emergency ward for about 23 hours and let me tell you, a lot goes on in that place in that amount of time. There was the junkie that appeared to be there with a friend, but it turns out was there alone. She continually referred to this invisible friend to the nurses. She ranted and raved, paced the corridors and blamed the hospital staff for giving her a “dirty transfusion”. These poor nurses were called every name under the sun until they finally sedated her……peace at last. A poor old fella was brought in by paramedics late in the night and placed in the room next to mine. Shortly after his son and daughter in law arrived. All seemed fine, he was able to talk a little with them. After a short time the family left him to rest. His nurse left for a few minute to gather some equipment. On returning she found that my newly acquired neighbour had passed away. The family were called back not 10 minutes after they had left. My heart goes out to them.
Finally I was moved into a single room in the oncology ward. More blood culture were taken and more antibiotics were given. One which I had a reaction to and vomited after taking it. In this room I was finally able to get some much needed rest….or so I thought. Turns out this ward is also home to some very loud and confused people. One gentleman in particular loved calling on the nurses every chance he got. Apparently he liked to call them for small matters, so the nurses ignored him to try and get him to stop. This approach didn’t appear to be working too well for them. I was finally told that I had a viral infection and as soon as my temperature stayed below 38 for 24 hours I could go home.
By Monday I felt absolutely fine. The fever had finally gone and I was more than ready to head home. A few quick checks from the doctors and I was sent on my way with a script for antibiotics. We learnt a few lessons from this experience. One, that the emergency bag worked a treat. Two, that we need to keep wallets, phones and keys easily accessible (we had a hard time finding a wallet before we left). Three, constantly checking my temperature and making a early and fast call to go to the hospital ensured I didn’t get worse and had a fast recovery. Four, this is likely to happen again whilst I am on chemotherapy and is very common. I am now at home feeling good as gold and ready for my next round of chemo.