Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When you're kids have a temperature and say they feel crummy, they ain't lying

Another interesting day in the chemo world. Here's the exciting tale:

On sunday night I started feeling slightly crummy so I took my temperature and it was elevated a bit - 100.3. Huh. Last week I had a very hard week physically - rode to the top of Flagstaff on Tuesday, cardiac stress test on Wednesday, 50 mile ride to Jamestown on Saturday and then had to standup for 3 hours in a hot, stuffy bar on Sunday to watch the WC final. So when my temperature elevated a bit I wasn't too surprised - figured it was just my body giving me some feedback that I had pushed pretty hard.

Took some advil and went to bed. And here's where the fun 24 hour tour ride begins:

  • 100.7 at 3:00 am (woke with shaking chills). 400 mg of Advil and shakes went away, got back to sleep. 
  • 101.6 at 6:00 am. Took another 400 mg and called the on-call doctor. Since I wasn’t exhibiting sore throat, diarrhea or cough they decided just to wait to see me until my afternoon appt.
  • Called in sick to work, laid flat on my back for 4 hours, pushed lots of fluids and advil and got my temp down to 97 by the time I got in the infusion center.
  • Got through the 4 hours of infusion and post chemo lunch date with Susan ok.
  • 5:30 pm, more chills. Temperature was 96.5 but because of the chills took another 400 mg of Advil.
  • Laid down for about an hour.
  • 6:30 pm, temp has spiked 102.3. 400 mg more advil. If you're wondering what it feels like to have your basal temperature go up 6 degrees in an hour while lying flat on your back, the answer is - not good. Head sweats. Head hot. Eyes hot. It's hard to describe how your eyes can feel hot but mine did. So this is the part where when your kid looks like a rag doll and they've got a temperature - they're not kidding. As adults, I think most of us don't get high fevers very much so you tend to forget how debilitating it can make you feel. I've been on the chemo sauce for 127 days and I've had some bad days. But that hour yesterday afternoon while my temp was spiking was by far the most debilitating. I did not feel like moving an inch. Uggh.
  • 6:30, call the on call doctor again. They have no idea what’s going on. My picc line site looks fine (no evidence of infection) so we’re just in a wait and see mode. They did tell me to stop taking any fever reducing meds so they can see how bad it gets. Fun stuff. I thanked her in advance for giving me such a nice evening.
  • Since I couldn't take any fever reducing meds, I applied some basic heat transfer logic to the problem ( I am, after all, an engineer and I have actually taken one heat transfer course so this clearly qualifies me as an expert!) How do you get something cool? Three ways - conductive, convective and radiative heat transfer. I decided to focus on convective so clearly I needed to get my body's cooling elements exposed to more air flow. So taking a page from Cat's book of optimal sleep positions (insider family joke!) I exposed the bottoms of my feet to get more air flow:

  • I also exposed my hands, head and upper chest for maximum heat flow:

  • I was toying with the idea of introducing some conductive heat flow techniques into the solution by applying the age old cold-compress-to-the-forehead technique but felt like that might be crossing the line into disturbing the engineering data we're trying to collect (aka how badly is my temperature misbehaving). Probably a lame distinction but that's where I ended up. 
  • Also pushed some cold fluids - 32 oz of lime twisted sparkling water (hey, just because you're flat on  your back with a fever you don't have to settle for tap water!)
  • With this great engineering project in place, by 8:00 pm my fever starting coming down. 
    • Watched the Star Trek movie on my laptop. This is viewing number 6 (or 7?) for me so I can now quote many pieces of dialog. Susan found this to be initially endearing and then slightly irritating, I think. So I guess I'm not the best person in the world with whom to watch this movie. Just another rugged chore for the wing-woman!)
    • 99.1 at 11:00
    • 97.5 by midnight
    • 97.9 this morning at 6:00 am. (and had a good night's sleep. I woke up at one point with some head sweats but I attribute this to the Bleomycin. Didn't feel feverish and my temp was ok at the 6:00 am data collection point)
Another day or two of lying low and hopefully whatever was upsetting my temperature will clear itself up. Just another fun bump in the chemo road course, I guess! More news as it happens...


  1. Wow, what a ride! Hope you are resting nicely with Star Trek, and then you can learn even MORE dialog to teach Susan! BUT the fabulous news is that the diagnostic tests have shown that the cancer is gone. The long term looks good, so fire up that transporter and take a journey to great new adventures!

  2. So basically you were just alternating being a hot guy and a cool guy? (Apologies to the wing-woman.) This is not surprising to your fans. I blame the WC final. Anyway, so glad to hear that things seem to be heading back to normal.

  3. I've always had a more intuitive approach to testing the foot-out-of-covers method of cooling off (i.e. does it make me less hot?) but glad to hear it stood up to the rigorous of the scientific method as well! Glad to hear that it was just a blip of a fever period and that it did not disrupt the chemo. sched.