Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 2, 2006 - Under the Weather

Today – a day of summer thunderstorms – I’m feeling under the weather, in more ways than one.

I’ve got a terrible head-cold, the sort of ailment that commonly occurs at a time of changing seasons like this one. That, in itself, would not be worthy of mention in this blog, were it not for the fact that I’ve gone such a long time without having anything similar.

Throughout the three and a half months of chemotherapy, I wasn’t sick once (except for the side-effects of the chemo itself). This is fairly unusual, I think, and reflected the fortunate fact that my white blood-cell count – aided by regular Neulasta injections – never did dip below normal. Neither did my red cells or my platelets. Several of the oncology nurses told me this is unusual for recipients of the CHOP chemo cocktail. Most people receiving these drugs have blood-count problems at one time or another.

I’ve been under strict instructions from Dr. Lerner to call his office or answering service instantly, day or night, should my temperature ever rise above 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Were an infection or illness to occur at a time when my immune system was compromised, the consequences could have been serious. But such a phone call never became necessary.

Some members of my extended family would attribute this stamina to “good MacKenzie genes” (my grandfather lived to be nearly 101). I think it could have just as much to do with the beneficial effects of Neulasta, but who knows? I’m just glad my chemotherapy was relatively uneventful, that way.

Claire tells me some of her hospice colleagues predicted my head cold, or something like it (she’s a hospice chaplain, but works very closely with nurses and social workers who are part of the hospice team). “Just you wait,” a few of the nurses said to her this week. “Now that your husband is done with his chemotherapy, he’ll surely get sick. We’ve seen it happen with lots of other patients.”

They were right. Facing the life-threatening challenge of lymphoma, I’ve been running at high energy (or as high as I could manage, given the cancer fatigue). Once I heard the word “remission,” though, and the emotional pressure was lessened, the adrenalin stopped flowing so strongly. Then, I woke up with a scratchy throat and a runny nose.

I’d much rather deal with a head cold than chemotherapy, of course. Yet I do find it a telling reminder of how closely linked are our physical bodies and our state of mind and spirit.

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