Friday, April 20, 2012

#92: Don't Rely on a Thermometer to Tell You You're Healthy

I am awfully, terribly, unpleasantly sick. I have a hacking cough and my nose is on fire from drying it up with Kleenex all week. After my bike home from work (yes, both bad ideas), I felt so feverish that I dug out my thermometer from the back of my medicine cabinet and stuck it in the back of my throat for the first time since being out of treatment. It brought back so many memories.

You see, even the slightest fever for a chemo patient is a bad sign.  The immuno-compromised patient cannot fight off infection the same way everyone else can, and any fever at all means an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.  So, my oncology nurse instructed me to take my temperature every hour.  I kept two thermometers with me at all times, ensuring that I always got an accurate reading (in case one of them was a little off). I became very accustomed to the trusty beeps and the happy 36.7 degree Celsius staring back at me on the miniature screen.

... Except for one time.  I couldn't get my flu shot because the nurse said my temperature was a little high. I obsessively monitored my temperature for the rest of the day, terrified, nervous, anxious and scared for what fate awaited me. Was my body going to fight whatever foreign bacteria it had encountered off?  Would I be in the hospital by the end of the day with some terrible, deadly infection?

Luckily, neither happened. My trusty thermometer reminded me that my body could fight infection even with the little immuno-defenses it had. And today is no different. I have no fever, no infection, just an awful, terrible, and annoying virus.

Today, I've returned my thermometer back to the back of my medicine cabinet, and I plan on keeping it there until next year's virus attacks.  Meanwhile, this tired body is going to bed to let my fully capable immune system work it's magic.

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