Enterococcus faecium

 

It was the wind down to Memorial weekend.  I had been quite busy, pushing myself a bit physically.  I had just assumed my tiredness was due to my over exertion and the probability that my hemoglobin had dropped, but as I sat there with everyone, trying to stay in the moment, something felt off for me.  Just not right.

At first I thought it was the pizza I ate.  It didn’t seem to be agreeing with my stomach.  I got up to use the bathroom and then went and laid down hoping that I could recharge a bit. After a few minutes I rejoined the group, but noticed I felt very, chilled.  I thought it was sort of odd that I kept having continuous shivers, sending my skin into explosions of tiny goosebumps.  No one else looked or seemed to be chilled.

But I have always been sensitive to the slightest movement of air dancing across my skin.

Maybe that was all it was, but the longer I sat there, the more the chill was sinking deeper into my body.

I headed back to the safety of my bed and curled underneath the blankets, trying to trap any heat that may escape.  In my head, I tried to ration all the possibilities to why my body was reacting the way it was.  Was it just shock from pushing myself too much the past three days?  Was this just my body’s way of saying enough?  Was the effects of the pizza the last straw and sending my body into shut down mode?

I took my temperature.  It’s a little high.  Half hour later, it’s still climbing.  I’m praying it doesn’t shoot above 100.3.  Anything over that and it’s a necessary trip to the hospital. I still can’t get warm.

One last check and the thermometer goes off with urgent beeping, informing me that I have crossed the threshold into the range of the 100’s.  101.8 to be exact.

Not good for someone with a compromised immune system.

We are on our way to the ER.

They start me on some generic antibiotic in the Emergency Room, which they kept me on for a few days after being admitted back onto the third floor of the Seidman cancer center. Sending me back to the Cancer floor is typical protocol for anyone in my position.  I had to be monitored and watched.  Make sure the infection didn’t spread or get worse.  It was determined that I had caught some sort of bacterial infection that was in my blood. What it was exactly, they weren’t sure of.  They had to wait for results and run more tests.

For the most part I felt fine.  Fatigued, but that is nothing new for me. However, I could not escape the chills that would grip me in the early morning for the first few days I was there.  It was almost clockwork. Every morning around four in the morning, it would start.  I would shiver and my teeth would chatter.  I would turn the heat of my room up into the 80’s, crawl under all the blankets and shake violently.  I’d contort my body as much as possible, trying to absorb any body heat I was losing back into myself.  Burrowing under the blankets.   Waiting for the cold to pass so I could once again drift off to sleep.

By the time the nurse came in for my morning meds, it felt like a sauna in my room.

In my head, I figured I would be in the hospital five days at the most.  Get the antibiotic, and get out.   But the bacteria couldn’t be so easily identified.  They knew what family it belonged to, but couldn’t pinpoint which strand it was and what it’s particular sensitivities were.  So until they could figure that out and what to send me home on, I was stuck in the hospital.  For most of my stay, I either napped or walked around the floor and grounds.  I can tell you that by day five, I was becoming incredibly bored.  There’s only so much day time T.V. one can stand.

In the meantime, because the infection was in my blood, my PICC line had been compromised.  They felt best that they just pull it out and stick an IV in until they could figure out what to do with me.  I was never so glad to see it gone, but also was quite appreciative of the ease the PICC offered.  Now instead of just effortlessly pulling blood from the PICC, I had to be poked and prodded every time someone needed blood samples.  Which was pretty often.

The first IV blew.  The second one had to be placed near the crook of my arm because no other veins seemed viable or accessible.  Any time I bent my right arm in the slightest it would pinch and burn, so I would have to try and keep it straight as possible.  This made doing some activities cumbersome, mostly because I am right hand dominate.

It turned out that whatever strain of bacteria I had only had a sensitivity to a specific type of antibiotic that had to be administered through IV.   It was decided that I would need to get another PICC line to go home with so I could administer the antibiotic.

Of course the thought of having to get another PICC wasn’t pleasing.  The nurse had a hell of a time getting the damn thing in.  My veins were too small.  The one she did find, closed up.  It’s hard to relax when you have someone poking at you and trying to shove a tube up your arm.  Another one she tried was wrapped in nerves which sent a jolting electric pain down my arm into my fingertips.  The stinging and burning of the lidacain for every attempt.  It wasn’t fun.

I was sent home with my new PICC and home health care came out to show me how to administer the antibiotic.  It really wasn’t that hard.  All you had to do was make sure that you didn’t push all the liquid through at once, timing the plunges with in a two minute span.  By the time I was finished with the antibiotic 9 days later, I began to feel a lot more peppy.   The Dr. even pulled the second PICC out on my last visit.  So as of today, I am PICC free.

I have to say that even though it was a sucky experience in the grand scheme of a sucky event, I have been quite lucky in regards to the lack of infections that could have over taken my body during this whole ordeal.  Too often I read stories of others going through what I am going through, and they seem to be afflicted with some bacteria or another on a continuing basis.  Or the bacteria isn’t responding to the treatment.  Considering that this was only my second time really coming down with anything, I’d have to say that I did pretty good through out this whole shit show that cancer has tried to drag me down into.

I almost feel that cancer was like “Hey!  This girl isn’t going down!”  and tried  sending it’s goons out to scare me into submission.  Break my knee caps so to speak so I’d pay up and give in to it’s whims.

Silly cancer.  It obviously doesn’t know who it’s messing with.  It’s gonna take a lot more than some bacterias to bring this girl down….and even then, I’m not going down with out a fight.