Easter Sunday I started having a bit of a fever, which is not good for a chemo patient because it indicates infection. We had been warned that a temp of 100.5 was a automatic ER visit, so when my fever went past 102, I agreed to go. My Austrian had been on the phone with the Oncologist-on-call who said get to the closest ER right away. Ok, ok, I’m going. #grr
I spent some time at the ER, they did a bunch of blood work, chest X-ray, etc. The Doctor thought I was doing pretty well and that the seroma had become cellulitis (infection).
Unfortunately, the closest ER is not in the same network so I don’t know the results of the tests they did. My Dr’s can’t access them either. I need to figure out how to get the results of all those tests delivered to my own Dr Oncologist.
As part of my training session for chemo, they talk about the kinds of situations where you need to get to the ER. They gave me a card to present to the person at the front desk that I can’t be left in the general population among sick people coughing up scary germs because my immune system is toast. And that card got me instant attention, followed by a super short wait, and then I was taken to a room with a bathroom. (I found out later that’s the only one.) Everyone I met was lovely and caring and I appreciated the fast and comprehensive service I got.
We were there a few hours and thankfully home before Coco started getting uncomfortable. That had been my one prayer that we’d get home before she needed back outside again. And here we strolled in and she was as bouncy as ever. Isn’t the Lord kind?!
Monday morning was the beginning of chemo 3, but the Dr ER said it was unlikely they will move forward with chemo until I am off the antibiotic and the infection has cleared up. Turns out, he was right. Because we didn’t know results of the ER bloodwork, they accessed the port again for the usual work up.
Then they sent me to Dr Oncologist who was her normal fun self. I was hoping to get a different antibiotic than Dr ER gave me because I could barely make myself eat as a result. No dice. Dr Oncologist said those are good ones and I should stay on them… just eat first, don’t take them at the same time, yada yada. Lots of directions for these pills!
They made an appointment for me with the surgeon to have the seroma drained again so hopefully I could have some relief. (The seroma is a pocket of liquid that formed in the place where they took out my sentinel lymph nodes.) If you’ve been following along, this is round 3 with this seroma. I toyed with asking for a drain, but yuck. I didn’t even have the courage to mention it.
The PA who worked on the seroma was very gentle and caring as a round of nausea hit right before the proceedings were to begin. Thankfully I had a chemo barf bag in my purse. She also helped get my fever down so I wouldn’t feel the cold chills so much. Then she went to work trying to drain my seroma. She confirmed Dr ER’s diagnosis that it’s infected skin and tissue (cellulitis). When she told me there wasn’t anything there, I told her to keep digging, and she did. #ouchie A sample from the seroma liquid was sent off to pathology to see what’s happening there. It was a different color from earlier batches, so that was interesting.
Here’s what to expect if you have a seroma:
When they aspirate a seroma soon after surgery they enter using the surgical scar and it’s numb from surgery, so there may be little pain, but no big pain. That time I was sitting up straight in the doc’s office. When Dr Pathologist does it, with the aid of the ultrasound, I was on the table in a darkened room. He starts out with numbing, and after the initial burn there is zero pain. Until you take off the bandaid! LOL!
When it’s been a while since surgery and you’re in the office instead of on the table, they go in where they need to. There is no numbing, and most of it kind of registered as little stabbies, but there was one point where I did my best grimace because it really did hurt. So if you’re reading this because you’re about to have a seroma aspirated (drained) then it’ll most likely be a nearly painless procedure. This was a bit of an exception, because mine seems to be infected, ok? I find that dreading pain is worse than pain, so I always want to let my readers know what to expect. I can’t tell if you’re here as a fellow traveler or as a friend, or both. Either way, knowledge is power. Whenever I am equipped with the info my curiosity demands, I can stay in peace through the experience.
They’ve given me two antibiotics, I have the chemo med for nausea, and I have Tylenol for the fever. My Austrian has kindly made a schedule for the various medications. I need to take these with food, so I am eating lots of mini meals. The antibiotics both last the week and then I will be back in the chemo chair next Monday.
Today I am feeling much better, the fever has come down with the use of the Tylenol which leaves me feeling much more human. I have basically seen medical professionals, eaten mini meals, taken pills, and napped ever since. Today it is lovely to come up for air and start the laundry. It’s a beautiful day and it’s very nice to have the Austrian around. He made a yummy breakfast, his first attempt at gluten, dairy, and egg free pancakes. Lunch was similar but savory to taste like focaccia bread. I have not had anything like that in ages, what a treat!
Looking for Jesus:
I looked around for Jesus in the ER room and I could tell he was behind me on my right. The bed thing was out a ways from the wall so I couldn’t actually tell what was back there. The rest of the room had been full of chattering nurses and doctors, so Jesus had an out-of-the-way-corner.
Later as I was leaving I noticed a chair in that corner, so Jesus was hanging out with us there. Jesus was also hanging out with our friends who lost their husband/father/grandfather that same night in that same hospital. What a huge loss. My heart goes out to his family and his many friends. I pray they feel Jesus near them in their shattering loss.
Sending love your way today. Knowing you may have found this blog because you are on a similar journey, please know there is someone here pulling for you for all I’m worth! I think all of us are on a healing journey to be honest, and so I send you the best healing – the presence-of-Jesus kind. Next time you need Him, look around in your inner world with your physical eyes wide open. Just wait patiently until you can sense him, he will be close by. Presence is everything to me.
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