Monday, December 3, 2012

Avoiding Germs

Since I am still at the point where my body's ability to fight germs is in the low category I have become hyper-conscious of both what I touch and washing my hands a lot.

Think for a second about what you touch after you wash your hands before a meal, but before you touch food. Do you open the refrigerator to get out butter or salad dressing?  Did you touch a doorknob, or turn on a light? Did you turn the faucet off with a paper towel or with your hand (touching the place where the dirty hand had turned it on)? Do you pass serving plates that others have touched?   Do you open a drink, or pick up your glass to have a drink? Who has touched these before you - a server at a restaurant, family member, friends, or co-workers?  Were their hands clean when they touched that surface? Were the dishes and utensils sterilized when they were cleaned?

Germs can be all over the place. Your body gets use to the "normal" germs in your home, and usually your body has the ability to fight off what it comes in contact with. We have always been into good hygiene, and as I have mentioned before I am a bit of a neat freak, but I've never been a germophobe. Chad and I have actually always thought that some exposure to germs was good to keep your immune system working and on the alert. I am realizing it is hard to stay germ free! In my time post the hospital at home though have luckily (so far) avoided getting a bad infection or virus.

I spent 6 hours at the UC Medical Center campus today doing various treatments and tests. The "highlight" of the day was the pentamidine treatment (which was totally nasty). It is an inhalation treatment to help prevent pneumonia. It felt and tasted like I was half drinking, half breathing in a horrid medicine for 15 minutes. As I sat through it I was mentally ranking it to the other new experiences that cancer has given me the benefit of being able to experience. I thought about how pentamidine compared to the liter of "berry smoothie" pre a CT scan or a bone marrow biopsy. I decided pretty quickly if I had to choose one of the 3 I'd go with bone marrow biopsy hands down. I'll take a needle driven into my hip bone over 15 minutes of choking on this breathing "treatment" having to choke down the vile contrast dye (aka berry smoothie) for a CT scan.

I also got blood work done and saw my doctor today. My platelets and hemoglobin (red blood cells) are still trending the right way. Most people have white blood cells recover first since they live for just 24 hours. However, 15% of people have platelets come back first. Platelets were the first to rally for me but looks like the red blood cells are winning the race to "normal". The white blood cells on the other hand look like they did not hear the gun go off for the start of the race. So my germ avoiding ways have to continue for awhile longer.

 PlateletsHemoglobinWhite Blood CellsNeutrophils
Normal Range 140-40011.7-15.53.8-10.81500-7800
10/10/2012 - At Diagnosis116.12.7100
11/12/12 - When I left the hospital 3110.51.1668

My doctor is doing a few tests to rule out a few possibilities for my slow white count and neutrophil recovery. Overall I am feeling good and he is happy with how I am progressing. I was cleared to drive again (at least to doctor's appointments). I got the okay to try a short run if I feel like it before my next appointment. Best of all today it was over 70 degrees in Cincinnati today and was just beautiful. I ended up having to traipse all over the UC Medical Center Campus that is really tucked back behind the hospital and is really nice. It was a beautiful day to be out walking around.

My next doctor's appointment is two weeks ago. Until then am just working on avoiding germs and building back my strength. 


  1. Hello Beth, so good to see your trends on Platelets and Hemoglobin, they are going up steadily it seems. The other two will hopefully start picking up soon :). I am very happy that you are back home, it is good that you got to spend Thanksgiving and other family activities in the warm of your home and sorrounded by your loved ones :).

    For the germs are you considering wearing gloves? It might not look pretty but may help you go around the house with a less preocupied mind.

    Best wishes for you and your family for Christmas.

    Mitchelle Salazar

  2. Hi Beth - your numbers are looking better which is great news. I know that you are taking all precautions and listening to the dr's (being a "patient" patient). What I want to know is where to get teh "berry" flavored smoothie -- mine always taste like crushed up baby aspirin! Oh the adventures you begun to have! Hang in there and know we're in your corner fighting!