Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Protect Yourself

Sometimes we need to hit our friends and relatives over the head. When I was in treatment last week, I was talking to a woman who started chemo the same day I did. She has a very rare form of bowel cancer which they don't usually see until people are in their 70s. She is 34 with two young boys.

I asked about her Christmas and she rolled her eyes. She had gone to a family get-together and was sitting next to her husband who was sitting next to his brother-in-law. All of a sudden the brother-in-law started coughing. He said "Oh, I just got over the flu. I got it on Monday, but it's gone now (hack hack hack). " She cringed and stayed away from him..her husband did not and 4 days later, he too came down with fever....he had caught the flu from the other.

This meant that the woman had to do spend several days at her uncle's house where everyone was healthy because her blood counts were so low she didn't dare stay in the house with her sick husband. While there, her cousin said "Let's go to Walmart." She answered that her blood counts were really low and she dared not. "But it's just Walmart, " said the cousin.

Sigh. The fact that we are so susceptable to anything which comes down the pike seems to slip by people....no matter how often you remind them. One thing I recommend is asking your doctor exactly when your counts are the lowest (the nadir of the chemo) so that you can avoid people especially during those times....hopefully it sinks in. I also avoid large groups of people and try to remember to wipe the handles of the grocery cards and baskets I carry, or I leave my gloves on. This is especially important as we head into the greatest period for getting colds and flu, traditionally starting now and peaking in February and March.

However, don't get your hopes up. Last week, my husband's cousin invited me to go with her and her sister to Toulouse. From there, her plan was to go to Barcelona and Lourdes....after all, going to Lourdes would be good for me as I'm sick. Only one problem...I get treatment every week for three weeks, and three days after getting treatment I crash from fatigue...the steroids mess up my sleeping so much that when I come off them, I hit with a bang...the fact that the blood counts are lowest then doesn't help either. The concept of having to be on an airplane...not to mention catching flights and connections, given my present state of being really leaves me cold. I'd love to go to Toulouse, Lourdes AND Barcelona....but it's just not going to be now.

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