Making Counts

Every time we go to the clinic, they draw Eli’s blood and send it down to the lab. The lab technicians test the levels of the different components of his blood and send back a report. The doctor looks at the report of the blood counts to monitor his health and determine whether his ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is high enough to be able to have chemo.

When we first started chemo, about a year and three months ago, a nurse told us that she only knew of two or three kids that had never had a delay in treatment due to low counts. Chemotherapy tends to make the ANC and other components in the blood drop.

Eli made it through his entire frontline protocol without any delays due to low counts. Until last week, he had no delays in maintenance chemo. We were due to start the last cycle of maintenance chemo last Monday.

On Monday, didn’t make counts and we couldn’t start the very last chemo cycle.

Eli was rather sad, but Dr. Schneller took him around to hand out his wristbands to the staff. This cheered him up a little.

To compound matters, some of us had been sick with fevers, so I had sent Eli, Peter, and Ella to the neighbors’ homes to quarantine us sick people. Fortunately, they avoided illness and I had planned to bring them home after Eli’s clinic appointment. After considering the implications of Eli’s low counts, I decided he should stay away from the recovering sick kids at home a little longer.

One of the things we have to watch for is a fever. If Eli gets a fever for any reason, we have to take him to the hospital for tests and stuff. Then, if his counts are high enough and it’s not an infection, he can go home. If his ANC is too low, they keep him inpatient.

He’s only had one fever since he was diagnosed and his counts were good, so he got to go home. Because his ANC was low last week, a fever would have been ill timed and might have led to an inpatient stay. We brought Eli home from the neighbor’s on Tuesday and he is doing well. We have been a little more cautious by staying away from crowds.

Tomorrow, we hope to start to chemo tomorrow (please pray that we can do so). Once we resume chemo, we will be done in 4 weeks with maintenance. Then we have scans, which I predict will be clear, and then life becomes more normal again.

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