You had one job…

Saturday, August 13th

We woke up Saturday to pouring rain, which was fine by me because I was under a sort of house arrest as my neutrophils continued to drop. My first temperature check was normal-low (36.5°C), and I settled in to watch some more of the Olympics.

We had been using a tympanic thermometer mom bought when she arrived. Why tympanic you didn’t ask? (This is important later.) Well, at my planning appointment for the stem cell collection we were told that there really was no appreciable difference between how well tympanic and oral thermometers worked and more expensive equals better, right (admit it, in some instances you think so too)?! Tympanic it is!

We had noticed that between Monday and Friday, I seemed to run cooler than the “normal” (ie. average) 37°C, but that happens and when mom tried it it read 37°C exactly.

I now know that there is a big debate between those who believe the tympanic ones are better, and those that only trust the old school oral ones. People Doctors actually get quite heated about this.

Those in the oral camp *snicker, I’m twelve* say that the tympanic one isn’t as accurate. Tympanic converts say that that just isn’t true, and they argue that they are easier to use.  Apparently, the research says that the oral one is only more accurate when you get it in the exact right spot under the tongue.

So…at my Friday appointment, armed with our notes from Thermometers 101, as Erin stressed the importance of my temperature as a sign of a possible infection my body cannot fight, mom asked her opinion. Erin left the room, and came back with an oral thermometer that she gave to us saying, “tympanic ones run cool.” Roger Dodger.

Now that I’m sure you don’t have an opinion about thermometers, we can continue.

Saturday I was tired, a wee bit nauseous, had a bit of a headache, and was a little achy all over. This was no surprise. I was on day 6 of the neupogen shots, and had been warned about bone pain. We stayed quiet, and started a jigsaw puzzle to pass the time.

Jigsaw puzzle

Quiet, rainy day fun.

By late afternoon, the pain in my lower back, hip bones, and femurs was distracting and took my breath away when I moved in to certain positions (like coming down stairs).  I was wary of the codeine that the BMT team prescribed because it has given me stomach trouble in the past, and felt like I shouldn’t need the Dilaudid they had also offered. (Silliness, now that I stop and think.) By dinner time, I was willing to try the codeine (15mg), and when that didn’t help, I finally jumped on the Dilaudid (2mg).

At 3:30pm, my temperature taken with the (hospital provided) oral thermometer was 37.1°C, at 6:30pm it was 37.8°C (and 37.7°C), and at 9ish it had reached 38.1°C. The team had told us 37.5° meant be vigilant, and take it more frequently, if I wasn’t also feeling awful. I wasn’t feeling awful, I had bone pain. A temperature of 38°C was the “consider this one of the reasons for the emergency contact numbers” number.

I have now learned another thing along this journey: pay close attention to which number is the “in case you get a fever” contact number.  In fact, put someone solely in charge of exactly that.  (The irony that I joked about this being important in my last post has not been lost on me, don’t worry. *eye roll*)

Here’s how this went:

Beep beep beep thermometer reads 38.1°C.

“Okay, time to call the BMT team. Let’s get the number.”

Mom finds the sheet with the contact numbers.

BMT contacts

“Here it is. No wait, that seems to be the pager number for the nurses from Monday to Friday, 8-4. Well, there’s one at the bottom here that says ‘EMERGENCY ONLY … call and ask for the… hematologist on call’.  Well, this isn’t an emergency, it’s a maybe fever, and we don’t need a doctor. We just need a nurse from the team.”

“Okay, let’s try this number that’s in the green information book they gave us.” Mom called and explained who we were and why we were calling. Success! The operator told us, “Dr. X is on call for that, we’ll page her and she will call you back.”

Seventy-five minutes later. “Okay well, at 2 or 3 am this may become an emergency, so let’s call the ‘EMERGENCY ONLY number .. ‘”

Beep boop beep boop

“EMERGENCY .. what’s your emergency and location?”

“Oh my, we really only want to talk to the hematologist on call for the BMT team.”

“Hold on while I transfer you off of this EMERGENCY line and onto another one…yes, Dr. Atkins is on call tonight for the BMT team. We will page him and call you back.”

Thank God.

Twenty minutes later, he had called us back and we are on our way to the hospital, per his direction. They would be expecting us.

Jamey and Jess Hospital

Waiting for mom to park the car.

When we arrived at the hospital (through emerg, because admitting is closed at 11 pm) the triage nurse took my temperature with both a tympanic and oral thermometer, and both are…wait for it…PERFECTLY NORMAL!

Triage Aug 13

Well at least mom looks amused.

Sitting in the waiting room waiting for an observation bed, we (half jokingly) muse whether we can just sneak off home to bed. We can’t, and mom (justifiably) doesn’t feel like she can take me home without an accurate thermometer to depend on. So, there we were tired, concerned, annoyed, in pain (me, although debatably the hubs and mom too *smirk*) waiting to finish what we started.

Does anybody know of a good thermometer?

To be continued…

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One response to “You had one job…

  • Sylvia Carscadden

    As an old paediatric nurse I will speak up for the rectal thermometer! A bit warm but very consistent.

    Hope these days are going well. It is a privilege to travel this journey with you.

    Judy looks very in charge. Thinking of you two.

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