So, if you can still follow, I left you with me having had a rather easy first week of chemo (save the first night) in England with my boyfriend’s parents. I’d had my first taste of blood work, and while I was disappointed that my white count was down to 3.something (normal is 4-11), that wasn’t so bad.
We arrived home in Brussels that Sunday after. That night I got a bit of a sore throat. It wasn’t heavily sore, but it was intense in one spot. This made me very nervous since the instructions I received were not to panic about all the symptoms I’d have, unless I had a fever of 38 C (100.4F) or above, or a sore throat.
(Now, of course that’s now how they worded it, but that’s how I translated it.) And now I had one of the two Big Bad symptoms and no idea where my WBC stood. Supposedly the Friday previous was my low point, but I had no way of knowing it that was turning out to be true or not.
Firsts thing Monday morning I made a doctor’s appointment. I was hesitant to disturb my oncologist with my symptoms as I was probably just being paranoid (so I thought). I needed a new GP anyway as my one at the time was in Leuven, the town I had originally lived in. I got a reference for a Brussels doc who speaks English and went to him. Mind you, it was pouring rain and I was stupid enough to go anyway and take public transportation, but I didn’t know any better yet. This guy was very nice, but assured me that my sore throat was the result of pollution in Brussels. I insisted that I’d been in the city for a year and never had problems. I thought it was terribly suspicious to suddenly have a reaction to “pollution” on a rainy day, just after chemo, when my WBC were low. He insisted that was the cause and prescribed me a bad load of allergy medications. (Dumbass)
I went home and tried to nap it off. By that night the throat was worse and my temperature began rising. Now I was officially worried and I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified about what might be happening. When I rang the hospital, the night doctor-on-call told me to call my GP. I argued that no GP is going to answer his office phone at 9pm. She told me again to call him. (Dumbass) I’m a foreigner, so I did what she told me to, thinking just maybe she knows something I don’t about GP service. Of course, there was no answer, save for a machine telling me to go to the hospital for after hours attention. Then I had to ring back to my hospital, but no one was answering. I was feeling worse by the minute and I needed someone to tell me what was going on. I had no idea what to do. Do I panic? Do I relax? Do I go to the hospital? (My hospital is an hour away by train or $100-$115 by taxi. You don’t want to go if they are just going to send you home, nor did I want to go far from my house.) How serious was this? I was just angry by the time I spoke to someone. I felt very alone with dangerous chemicals in my body. This was unexcusable.
On about the fourth try and 25 rings, the in-house operator decided to answer. I was transferred to the night doctor-on-call, who was NOT the woman I had spoken to earlier (to this day we don’t know who the hell that was). THIS woman said she was very busy and she’d call me back. (Dumbass) I waited for a very scary hour, while my temperature went up two more degrees. With no direction from anyone who knew what to do, I said I had to take things in my own hands, since no one else appeared to be taking charge of my care. I called a cab and Del and I simply asked for the nearest hospital. I ended up at the worst place known to man.
The emergency room was fine. They did their thing, took my blood, gave me fluids and we waited for my WBC to come back. About midnight they finally got my results and told me I needed to stay and get some antibiotics. I really didn’t want to stay at the hospital, but my WBC was .7 (a.k.a. “pointless”), so they said I’d have to spend the night.
Del went home and I slept for 2-3 days straight. I was so tired. I woke up to find I was in “isolation”, which meant that my immune system was so low that I had my own room and any visitors had to wear a surgical gown, gloves, mask and hair cap everytime they came in. Del visited everyday, sweating his butt off in all that medical covering but always being a good sport.
Do you think I could have actually been in the worst hospital ever? I’ve chatted enough for today, but come back tomorrow and I’ll prove it!