March 7, 2019

IT GOT ME! Just like Dr. Hall said… day 10 of vyxeos I landed in the E.R. with a neutropenic fever.

We got in right at the very end of day 10. And… I know I look terrible. We’re keeping it real, folks. How would you look if you had cancer in the middle of the night? There’s something to think about.

What do they do when you come in with a neutropenic fever? Well, they get you through the E.R. in a flash, and start looking for signs of infection. With an immune system that isn’t working, this can be tricky… there can actually be less signs of infection, and false negative test results. The next step is broad spectrum antibiotics of a few varieties, a chest x ray, samples, and all kinds of cultures. The cultures sit for a few days and are then checked to see what’s growing. Here in Madison people are very environmentally conscious, so they reuse empty tabasco sauce bottles for the blood cultures.


The most terrible part was getting a swab for influenza up my nose. Thankfully it was only a few seconds, but that swab went way further up my nose than anything ever should. Real pain. I don’t recommend the experience to anyone.

After all that, I got set up in a room on the bone marrow transplant floor, where the nurses are fantastic and the air is dry. I continue to get antibiotics around the clock as well as anti fungal and anti viral medicine. My husband and I spent some time relaxing, chatting, watching a movie… well, part of a movie (we were a little disappointed in the Wrinkle in Time… we so enjoyed reading the book to the kids back in Cameroon, the movie didn’t stand a chance). He left in the afternoon to go spend time with the kids.

I also got more platelets and red blood cells today. When I came in last night they had dropped to 6.6 g/dL hemoglobin, and my platelets were at 6 K/uL. My neutrophils are at 10 /uL.

The best part of being in the hospital is that it frees me up to talk to friends. There’s so much joy in getting to connect with others during this time… even though it means I’m away from my kids.

… with a little smack of the lips

8 thoughts

  1. Wow! Knowing how long it can take to be seen in the ER, that’s great they got you through FAST! We are all praying protection for your health and recovery from this bout, and future protection from bleeds or more infections! Heidi, your positivity in the face of this adversity is nothing short of amazing, and a huge blessing for all of us who get to walk with you through it. Hugs!!


  2. Oh Heidi! Dang woman, only you would look that good with a neutropenic fever. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this. I’m desperately trying to think of something to make you laugh. You were always the comedian during our time in Tulsa, and after reading your story here I’ve been thinking about that amazing literary composition you did about the Don Quixote chicken. You are a talented storyteller and I wish cancer would get the ‘f’ out for the remainder of your tale. When I come upon a funny video I will send it your way. In the mean time I will be petitioning the universe for fewer tabasco bottle blood cultures and more healing and laughter for you and your family.


  3. Reusing empty tabasco bottles? They must have started that when Charles was there. Not because it was his idea, but because he would have left so many empty ones lying around that such bottles would have been the most plentiful resource they had.


  4. For your entertainment delight, here is the string of humor on my extended family thread after seeing the “Tabasco bottle” cultures:
    Austin – Praying! …on a lighter note, I don’t think I’ll ever think of hot sauce the same way again!
    Julia – haha yeah- like is that even legal?? I know it’s illegal to fill alcohol bottles with any liquid substance – even water as a vase! Like, blood? eeee…and they sure must clean them well so the samples aren’t tainted by hot sauce!!😂
    Jessica – Tabasco…the sauce for the truly cultured!
    Me – So glad Heidi got her good sense of humor from her dad…not from me who cannot tell a joke to save her life!
    Jessica – I’m glad Heidi can savor life yet and humor is a great medicine to saveHER (Heidi’s) life. Pun-ishing humor😝
    Jacquie – Heidi is clearly One hot mama! And her writing spices up a blog day!
    Jessica – Love all the saucy replies to Heidi’s Blog. Hope reading them warms her heart. We want her spirits to rise (but not her temperature)
    Jacquie – (THUMBS UP) At least she is not bottling up all her feelings.
    Jessica – Pouring out the puns, you take the cap (and gown PhD= Pun humor Dockus)
    Jacquie – Could I have meant””anything else?
    Jessica – Infection in Heidi=bad. Infectious humor=good. Hope we aren’t bugging you too much with these messages Heidi.


  5. Heidi, your attitude and perspective is solid! I know that it might not always feel solid but you are really keeping a great thankful perspective. I am NOT a fan of bone marrow biopsies (I think I have had like 6-8 now) so the Q-tip up the nose sounds simply dreadful. I am praying for you my friend! In fact, you have an army praying for you!


  6. You are a damn strong lady. I didnt have to go through so much with my cancer. Love you my friend. Loved the video of Marian.


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