Sunday, May 19, 2013

Viva la Immune System!

I've never been a hand sanitizer kind of Mom.  I've always been an "immune systems get stronger by doing their job" kind of Mom.  I've never been the Mom who treats every fever.  Once again, my attitude was that a fever has a job to do and I'm not going to stop it unless absolutely necessary.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't love when my newly potty trained preschooler seemed to touch every blessed surface in the playground bathroom, but, once we were out of there it was off my mind.  Fast forward to cancer treatment...the viva in my immune system has started taking it's hit from the Chemo and suddenly I'm wearing gloves to change diapers and using hand sanitizer trying to remember to use hand sanitizer and just generally having to change our approach to everything.

I don't even remember the last time I had a fever, then last week for about a half hour, I had a fever of 99.2. That normally wouldn't matter, except that if I have a fever of 100.5 or higher I have to go to the emergency room because my body can't properly fight infection.  Going to the emergency room would mean even more upheaval for my family than there already is so for about a half hour last week I was really sweating that 99.2.  It went back down, but it really brought home my new reality.  It felt so melodramatic, so crazy, to be worried about a low grade fever.  It was very humbling.  I'm supposed to take my temperature 3 times a day.  Like a crazy person.  I have to do it, but it just feels like the the behavior of a crazy hypochondriac.

Going into the blood work that preceded my 2nd treatment I felt pretty full of myself.  Other than a very brief, very low fever, I was sure I had managed to buck the system and get Chemo without taking a hit in my blood counts.  Surprise!  It turns out, that despite my arrogance-- I am subject to the same biological rules as every other human being!  When I have Cytotoxic substances pumped into my body they kill stuff.  Huh.  You know what's good about this Chemo thing besides the curing cancer part?  It's going to take me down a few pegs, hopefully many pegs, because I'm literally that delusional that I thought I'd sail through this without taking any hits to the bodily systems that Chemo always attacks.

For the foreseeable future microbe management will be part of our life in a big weird way.  I'm not clear on how that's exactly possible with 5 small active kids.  My hope is that for the spring and summer my counts will be high enough and our playdates and activities will be outside enough that we'll be able to keep things pretty normal.  Once the baby is born and I continue treatment I guess things will be pretty much the same as when I've had any other newborn--into the baby cave we go.  We'll just stay in longer this time.

I try to remember that by this time next year I'll be a germ fighter again, and I can just go back to letting my immune system take care of business.  Until then, I have to learn some humility.  Pass the hand sanitizer.


  1. What, you mean that vinegar and Acai berry aren't sufficient to prevent the entry of germs into a household? MIND BLOWN.

    You should try garlic. Just hang it everywhere, maybe set up an infuser with garlic oil. It works for vampires and yeast infections, why not viruses? Plus, you'd smell like an Italian restaurant.

    1. :) I realized that where I went wrong was that the berries weren't fermented. I feel so silly!


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