Early Tuesday afternoon, Laurie and I made yet another trip to the LHCP for my regular blood draw. We are usually given early appointments but for some reason this one was scheduled later in the day. The waiting room was quiet for a change. Very few infusers milling about as my anxiety level started to rise. I have heard stories of chemo patients getting nauseous when they enter an infusion center but I have not had that sensation. My manifestation is butterflies or panic even though my side effects have been minimal. Odd.
After tightening the band around my upper arm, the phlebotomist slapped my inner elbow a few times and felt around for some good veins but the right side was not cooperating. I offered the left arm and she was still finding it tough to locate a proper target. Eventually, she shrugged and took aim. She drew my blood into a large syringe instead of the two vaccumn tubes normally used. After withdrawing the needle from me followed by the obligatory Looney Tunes band-aid, she stuck the needle into each of the test tubes to fill them up. This was a new approach and it made more sense because no matter how careful they are when switching the tubes with the needle in your arm, there is still a little pain that is avoided with this new technique. Bravo to nuance.
Several minutes later, Liz emerged with the results. All the numbers were as expected but my neutraphils are down to 700. Those who have been taking notes know that this is too low. Normal is in the 3500 range. After my first chemo treatment, this plummeted to 180. Neutraphil levels indicate your ability to fight off infections. The number will continue to climb over the next week and I have yet to wander around with a mask on. The work I do does not require me to leave the house and I'm a habitual hand sanitizer now so my threat level is probably BLUE.
Looking forward to Lymphemo #6.