Monday, November 4, 2002

A Low White Count Supplement

Dave’s Great Adventure
Chapter 4, Verse 4
November 4, 2002
A Supplement

I thought I’d send out just a short update to let you kind readers know what happened to my white count and what we’re doing about it. I believe at the end of my last “episode” I said we’d be getting another white count on Friday (November 3) and see if I needed any treatment.

I had the blood drawn Friday morning, but the lab was having some trouble with their auto analyzers so we didn’t get the results until late Friday evening, just at quitting time. My doc had left work by then, but the counts were roughly the same, but just up slightly. My white count had gone up to 1,500 from 1,100, and my neutrophils, more critical at this time, had edged up just slightly, to 200, still critically low. I was feeling well, and so I waited until Monday to see what we needed to do. Meanwhile we had Kathy’s sisters and their spouses visiting at the house for the weekend. One of the sisters had a little cold, with a scratchy throat and a little cough, so we tried to avoid getting too close to each other during the weekend, and we spent our time sucking zinc lozenges and taking echinacea tablets (do they REALLY do anything?). So far I seem to have avoided any signs of having contacted her virus.

Today I got a call from my doc. He’s concerned that my white count didn’t recover any better than it did, so he wants me to take the Neupogen, the medicine I mentioned to you in the last letter. Neupogen is a growth factor that promotes the growth of neutrophils. It also has to be given by injection, so I had to go to the clinic today to learn how to give myself injections of the stuff for the next five days. It shouldn’t be too awfully difficult for me to do. They fixed me up with all the syringes and needles I’ll need for the five day course of the medicine.

Did I mention that five days of the stuff cost almost $1000! One vial a day, at almost $200 each. Of course, it’s important stuff, since I really need those neutrophils.

Brian said we can still go to Hawaii. There is a Kaiser (the company I work for) clinic not too far from the hotel where we’ll be staying, so I will know where to go for help if I start feeling sick. However, you may remember some of the dietary restrictions I have during my nadir times, right? No fresh fruits and vegetables?? Well, that will apply to me throughout our time in Hawaii since my white counts are so low. So, I’ll be in a tropical paradise, surrounded by fresh fruits and juices, and won’t be able to eat any of them! I guess I’ll just have to have bacon, eggs and potatoes for breakfast everyday.

When I get back I’ll have another blood count done to see if my marrow has recovered enough to get the next round of chemo. There is a good chance that I’ll have to wait an extra week or more before I can have the next round, since my stem cells in my marrow seem to be so depleted right now. I hope we don’t have to wait, but I guess I don’t really want to wipe out my marrow either!

Anyway, tonight I give myself my first shot of the Neupogen at bedtime and then we get up about 3:00 AM tomorrow to catch a 6:55 AM flight to Los Angeles. Then we catch another flight from there to Maui, which will arrive about noon, local time. We’ll be plenty tired by tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures in Hawaii lately have been about 85 (29 C) degrees during the day and about 78 (25 C) at night. Eat your heart out, you folks in Iowa, Colorado and Illinois! We’ll get another letter out when we get back, or within a day or two, and let you know how we did and what we’re going to do about the next round of chemo.