Sunday, August 22, 2004

Infections

Damn infections. They are the bane of our existence.

We just spent seven days pumping chemo through his body to kill all these damn leukemia cells growing there. And all the other cells there as well, especially the white blood cells and neutrophils which fight off infections and platelets which stop bleeding. So, this past week we have effectively destroyed his immune system. A necessary evil in pursuit of a greater good.

It’s inevitable, then, that he will contract an infection after each cycle of chemo while he has nothing to fight back with. And we dread these. You wait for it. You expect it. You prepare yourself for it. And it hits like a ton of bricks. They are so dangerous and scary. And you wait. You wait for the cultures to grow which will tell the doctors what type of infection it is so they can target it with the right antibiotic. You wait while they start a wide-spread of antibiotics while they wait to see which one they need. You wait for the antibiotics to kick in while you worry about how many antibiotics he’s had and if he’s building an immunity to them. And mostly, you wait for his system to recover and start making white blood cells and neutrophils of his own and fight back on it’s own.

We live by the CBC (complete blood count) telling us his red blood cell, white blood cell, neutrophil and platelet count telling us when he’ll need blood and whether its whole blood or just platelets. And we manage a platoon of donors who always have stepped up for us. We’ve been so blessed with so many friends, and friends of friends, who have always been there for Josh.

Josh’s counts were so good, I thought I had more time to react and organize. I guess this is my wake up call, as Josh is hooked up and getting platelets which were shockingly low; only 4. Normal is 150-450. We usually transfuse under 20.

For the next week or two now, this is our life. And his, because through the last three years of treatment, it is always the infections that threaten his life.

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