I’m told this is a Chinese Proverb and its very appropriate for me this week. My body seems to be facing a few challenges following last week’s treatment. Temperature regulation has gone out the window.
Yesterday I had cause to phone the out-of-hours chemo support number thrice. The first time no-one answered so I re-dialled and eventually my call was picked up. The person at the other end was very pleasant but small alarm bells started to ring when she didn’t ask my name, my hospital number, what treatment regime I was on or when my last infusion took place. I was advised to keep monitoring, take no pain-killers and call again at 8.30am if things hadn’t resolved. Dutifully I monitored all day, decided it wasn’t critical and wondered how on earth my temperature could be fluctuating so much over relatively short periods of time. Liver – are you causing this chaos?
The second time I called my temperature was 0.1 degree below the ‘head straight to Accident and Emergency’ level and I confess I was feeling a little warm. No-one suitably qualified could take my call so they’d call back. 45 minutes later a very helpful person returned my call, said she thought we’d need to check my blood and suggested because her hospital is almost 2 hours away the best option would be to call my nearest hospital and check they have an out-of-hours haematology service. Call her back if I had no luck, she’d book me into their unit but felt given the time and distance involved it would be better to attend my nearest centre. I agreed.
I called my nearest hospital, asked for the relevant department and was then transferred to four different departments none of whom seemed able to help. Eventually haematology gave me a telephone number …. the number I called at the outset of my ‘please can someone advise me’ quest. In the middle of the night I’d been re-directed to the hospital two hours away and at that point it dawned on me I have a new career in acting whenever I’d like it. I’d entered the realms of a ‘Carry On‘ film and the only thing to do was laugh.
Fortunately alongside the ability to laugh at bizarre situations, I’m blessed with common sense. I took my temperature again, found it had dropped by 0.2 degrees – possibly the icy chill coming from the less gracious parts of my psyche – and decided critical I wasn’t. I’d keep monitoring and head straight to A&E if necessary because turning up in person means action would happen. In Britain it isn’t the done thing to have a raspberry-coloured woman dressed only in her night-clothes passed out on the floor. Night-clothes in a public place are a terrible faux pas.
So back to bed I went but unfortunately the whole situation caused a lot of stress for Zub. He isn’t good with medical malarkey at the best of times; if he thinks something is serious and believes due care and attention is missing he gets annoyed. By the end of my phone calls he was probably hotter than I was, he certainly had more of a rosy glow.
But such is life. It pays to be able to take care of oneself, seek to understand as much as possible about the situations we find ourselves facing, their upsides and their consequences. It’s always possible the person answering the phone won’t be fully equipped to address our questions or provide accurate advice. It’s not their fault it’s just the way things are sometimes. As I was seeing the Oncologist today I prepared to grill him intensely about my symptoms because he is practical and straightforward. A precise answer without hmms and mmms is I all I needed.
- 38 degrees is the magic number – temperature above that, off to A&E.
- 37.5 – 38 degrees and feeling unwell – phone the help line (oh no, do I have to?)
- 37.5 – 38 and feeling OK – just monitor.
- Normal temperature and feeling unwell – phone the help line (OK, if it happens I’ll give it another go.)
It seems my dancing temperature is likely to be a reaction to last week’s treatment but the onset of neutropenia can’t be completely ruled out. I’m working on the basis the former is more likely than the latter and the mind has restorative powers we don’t fully understand so I’m giving it the opportunity aid my body in regaining its composure over the next few days.
No matter how tall the mountain it cannot block out the sun. Every day, including those written for a Carry-On film, is 24 hours of progress.