Friday, November 27, 2015

Home Again?

As much as we want to be in our own beds, there is some comfort in the hospital, and it actually does feel like home sometimes. Probably due to my 'creature of habit' nature, I guess.

Ruby has been working a runny nose for the last week. She got two new teeth just before her latest round of chemo started and I'm pretty sure another one came through this last week. Since she's not had a fever at all, and the product has been clear, we have not been overly concerned. Unfortunately, sometime yesterday afternoon she did start coughing also. While it sounded horrible, she has sounded that way many many many times in her previous always-congested days, and the doctors have never found her to have anything more than the congestion causing the cough (no lung issues or deeper infection). So even though it raises a red flag, I'm also aware that it's not out of the ordinary for her to sound that bad when she's congested.

Ruby woke up happy today and ate a great breakfast, even with some coughing. We planned to go as a family to get our Christmas tree; I was determined to get it all set up as a family of five. And even though Ruby was in good spirits on the drive to the tree farm, her cough and occasional cuddliness throughout the morning was enough to convince me that I would call the doctor when we got home, just to be sure we didn't need to come in to be checked out.
Once at the farm, Ruby walked around, petting dogs and checking out trees. But after about ten minutes, she only wanted to be held and was no longer happy. We quickly took pictures and got our tree. I had Lehr pull out the thermometer as I drove home; her temperature was 39.0 (we are supposed to call and come right in if it hits 38.0). So we decide to bypass home to drop the tree and the kids off and head straight to the hospital to drop Ruby and I off. A few minutes later we take her temperature again and it's 39.6. Yikes. She is not happy either. She's mostly sleeping, but also very uncomfortable.
There was a holiday mix-up with the clinic where we were supposed to be communicating with en route, so they didn't know we were coming into the ER. Once the Aflac Team found out we were in the ER though, they got us to the front of the line (it was busy) and right back to a room where they hooked Ruby up to antibiotics right away. Once she had the antibiotics in her system, she started smiling a little bit and talking again. Her temperature went down quickly, to my relief. (She was HOT when we got there!) During this process (during which Ruby mostly slept on me), the nurses took blood to do cultures and other tests on. Before we left the ER we knew that the first round came back negative: no respiratory infections like RSV or bronchitis.

Unfortunately, when you are in count recovery from chemo, like Ruby is this week to two weeks, any fever is a bad thing and involves a hospital stay. When a patient like Ruby heats up like this, they worry about a bacterial infection, so they draw blood and wait for cultures to grow or not grow. That process takes at least 24 hours, and once a fever is present (and the patent's blood counts are down), the patient has to stay in the hospital until they are 48-hours with a negative blood culture. So even if Ruby's cultures never grow (a positive), she will have to stay for 48 hours.

So here we are, back in the room we were in a few weeks ago for chemo, rockin' the fluids pole and hospital food. Ruby's friend, Claire, checked in a few hours ahead of us for her scheduled chemo, so at least we are in good company. Ruby didn't miss a beat, waving to all of her beloved nurses and techs as they wheeled us onto the unit tonight....she doesn't see being here as a bad thing at all.

I'm so thankful that her fever went down on the first try. I'm so thankful that she had five days with Grandma and Grandpa before this happened. I'm so thankful for an amazing husband who helped Ruby and I get checked in and then went home and packed up overnight stuff for us, AND brought us dinner. And even as crazy as it sounds (and feels to say!), after a crazy few hours of my girl being so not herself, I'm thankful to be in a hospital where I actually feel safe, and kind of at home.

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