Today I didn't go to work. Instead, I took The Boy to the center because he had a fever that began yesterday around 11:30. He seemed himself yesterday; today, a little less so. He got fluids and antibiotics while he was there, and they took blood for counts, which wasn't so good. Hemoglobin was okay and platelets were okay, but white counts not so much--basically there are three types of white blood cells, of various stages of maturity. He had a bunch of the new ones and not much else. There were no "bands" in the first sample; later in the day there was one. Whoop-de-doo.
I love The Boy and any extra time we get to hang out is fun--I just wish that we could do it somewhere other than in the hospital.
The complication of the day, causing us to be there for the entire day instead of just a few hours, was he wasn't getting blood return out of his port. Cancer patients and cancer moms/dads probably know what this means, but because I hope that as few people as possible are cancer parents or cancer patients, let me elaborate if I haven't done so already.
The medi-port was installed on the left side of his chest, under the skin, for direct access to the veins. We place a numbing cream on the port area and let it sit there for awhile (we use press n seal; the hospital uses something stickier). The port is "accessed" every time that he goes for chemo and, as I now know, any time that he comes in for anything other than a quick finger-stick for blood counts. IV's go in through the port and most blood is drawn from the port. The accessing part involves sticking a needle in, hence the numbing cream, and flushing it out with saline. During this process, the nurse pushes in saline and pulls out some blood. Hopefully. If the needle isn't in properly, the saline will go in elsewhere (which happened during The Boy's first outpatient visit). If the saline goes in correctly but the blood doesn't come back out, usually there is a clot or an area of tissue (which has a specific name that is escaping me now) that is in the way. Think of it as a no-spill sippy cup.
After they discovered that this was a problem, they first tried to flush with Heparin (anti-clotting medication). Didn't work. The nurses took a second set of blood samples, this time using a vein. THESE people know how to find a vein! I was nervous because of our experience during The Boy's initial admission into the hospital, where the resident must have stabbed David 20 times with the needle before finally giving up and calling the IV team. But anyhow, even though they found a vein today, that didn't take care of the port problem. They had to put another solution in there that was to take 2 hours. It was already 1:00 at this point...hey, what's a few more hours when I've been here since 9:00 AM?
This worked well enough, we eventually got our report, and we went home.
None of this is too sad or disappointing. Actually, it's to be expected to some extent. And I was relieved that The Boy did not need to be admitted to the hospital and was, in fact, able to come back home.
What was disappointing and sad was that right before I arrived at home, I passed by our usual playground haunt and saw the place just bustling with activity. So many kids, many of them close to The Boy's age. And there is just no way, with his white blood cell count being so low, that we're going anywhere near that playground.