Day 1 is considered the first day that I get chemo. So they don’t count the first two days I was here. Today is Day 20.
Chemo lasted five days, as I already outlined, with the first three being the really hardcore, powerful stuff. By Day 7 I started to feel better (that’s a relative term, to be clear). I could function and had a ‘bit’ of an appetite. On Day 9 I went home to see my kids, wife and dog. I got a four hour pass. I was only able to lie on the couch, but at least I was home.
Each day I felt a little better and on Thursday, Day 13, I felt absolutely fabulous. I asked the doctor for a pass that would allow to go home – and spend the night there. At first Dr. Andre was hesitant, and rightfully so. I may be feeling okay, but in the background the chemo was now fully working its brutality. My counts were all low, but the key is the neutraphyls, which were at zero. Dr. Andre decided to allow it, but told me to wear a mask on the drive (air circulation in the car).
As I was driven home, I started to feel a headache coming on. By the time I got home I had to lie down, and the headache was hurting a lot. I was home by around five, and went to bed before nine. I didn’t get to really talk or hug my kids the way I wanted to. I woke up a lot throughout the night and felt the fever coming on. By six in the morning, we checked my temperature and it was at one hundred.
My wife rushed me to the hospital and I went straight to my bed. Then it was three days of hell. Antibiotics, antivirals, blood transfusions, sweats, chills, even another vomit session.
I came out of that one just a shattered, shell of human being. As if five guys had just kicked the shit out of me in a parking lot for an hour and then walked away, leaving me in a fetal position. Or a better description is I did a triathalon without any training and without stretching beforehand – how I would feel the next day. My muscles were toast.
My mind was back and my spirit was back, but physically I was spent. This was July 31, a Monday. Day 17.
It was also the day before I release my 12th annual Fantasy Hockey Guide. The infection had taken me out for three days. Three days in which I had planned to a bit of work on the guide here, a bit of work on the guide there. Now, instead of a light, casual schedule, I had several hours of work to do – and about two hours of energy to do it.
For the first time in history, I had to release the guide on August 1st without the teams being 100% completed. Vancouver, Vegas, Washington and Winnipeg each had a bit of work yet to be done on it.
On Tuesday, I took it off from work. It was a struggle to walk. My calf muscles were shot. They were chewed. They had no strength and couldn’t hold me standing for more than thirty seconds. This made going pee every couple of hours a lot of fun. They gave me muscle relaxants, which did help.
Wednesday was more of the same, except my appetite was 100% back. I actually ate most of a huge panzarotti. I didn’t plan to take it off work, but I did. Again.
So now we’re at Thursday. Day 20.
I’m told that on Day 21 my bone marrow wakes up and starts producing blood counts again and that over the weekend I can expect my counts to actually start rising on their own. But for today, at least, my counts are down. Hemoglobin is at 71, so I need blood. Platelets are at 9, so I need platelets. I’ll get those today. then tomorrow the counts will be fine…and then on Saturday, ideally, the counts will go – up. Wouldn’t that be nice?
My stem cell transplant coordinator was in to see me today. They are hoping to do the stem cell transplant on August 30, which means I would get readmitted to hospital on August 24 for pre-treatment. I will be discharged from my current stay here sometime between August 9 and August 14.