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Saturday, August 14, 2010

My eventful Thursday

So this past Thursday was a "no chemo" Thursday (which means this upcoming Thursday I will have my 2nd round of Taxol in keeping with my every-other-week schedule), which should have meant I'd be lying low at home. Except it turned out to be a very momentous Thursday for two different reasons:

*I turned in my tenure file!

[I have to turn in 5 files -- 1 in-house and 4 for the external reviewers]

Matthew helped me to turn in my files and then we had breakfast at the Carolina Inn to celebrate since I was craving buttermilk pancakes.

So the rest of the day was spent at home napping, reading, watching Mad Men, and eating dinner until...

*I had to go to the emergency room at UNC Chapel Hill Hospital because of an allergic reaction I had to an antibiotic they put me on.

The story of why I'm on antibiotics is too long to get into--the short version is that I developed an infection (the reason I was running a low grade fever -- which actually persisted into Wednesday). On the advice of my oncology nurse I went to see my primary care physician, who put me on an antibiotic I had been on once before (this is key) and after taking 3 doses over a 24 hour period, I developed a rash on my torso, which really were hives, that then spread across my limbs (and are currently everywhere from my scalp to my palms to the soles of my feet and everywhere in-between). The hives started at 8pm (an house after I took dose #3) and I immediately took 2 benadryl (I've had this happen to me before--I'm also allergic to clindamyacin and penicilin and have had the same thing happen both times), but at 9pm I realized that I was feeling a slight swelling in my throat, so at 9:30pm we headed to the ER since I figured it was better to be safe than sorry--after all, the worst thing to happen would be to fall asleep and have my airway constricted and die in my sleep.

But I really did wait half an hour and think carefully about this because I HATE BEING IN THE ER. And I have to tell you, the one at UNC is particularly daunting, maybe because it's a large state funded hospital, but it is very chaotic, the rooms are not clean, it's clear their housekeeping budget is very low, and lets just face it, you don't want to the be in ER unless it's absolutely necessary.

Anyway, after observing me for 4 hours and making sure I could still breathe, they gave me some medication to deal with my hives and swelling (and a prescription for 4 days worth of stuff to help deal with the hives) and an epi pen--which I'd been meaning to get anyway since I think it's a good idea for everyone to carry an epi pen--especially teachers because lets face it, one of our students could swell up and stop breathing because of some allergy that they don't know they have and so it's useful to have one handy.

Now the reason I mentioned being on the antibiotic before, is that according to my doctor, a drug allergy usually occurs after you have been exposed to it once before (or to a similar protein). So now I'm covered in hives, still dealing with a low grade fever, and hoping the new antibiotic will take care of the infection and NOT develop into an allergy.

So in a nutshell, I'm doing OK. I mean, things aren't great--I am sleeping more since I'm on double doses of bendaryl and having a low grade fever isn't great (so if anyone is sending me email or calling and I don't respond, this is why) and I have my next round of chemo to look forward to (sigh) but at least I don't have to worry about not breathing, the hives will clear up within a week to two weeks, and hopefully the infection will clear up in a week, and since the Taxol doesn't leave me nauseous or as foggy as I was before, I'm able to actually enjoy reading fiction. So all in all, it could be worse, this is what I tell myself at least. After all, I am a glass-half full kinda gal.


  1. Ok, all that ER stuff sucks, but huge congratulations on turning in your tenure file! Tell them to send your file to me (cause I'll be famous someday, which counts for something) and I'll give you an A+, based in part on your history of schooling unsuspecting crypto-racists at parties.

  2. Congratulations on turning in the file!! I thought that wasn't going to happen until the middle or end of the fall semester. Too bad about the allergic reactions, but hopefully you're still feeling some sort of relief.

  3. YAY! for the tenure file
    BOO...for the ER....

    I'm so very excited for this big step for your career. Can't wait to follow the developments of this exciting new chapter!

  4. Congratulations, Jen!!! You're a rock star--getting your tenure file done and turned in, in the middle of life and cancer. You inspire me and you always have.

    I am reading these from most recent so I hope you're feeling better now.