Neutropenia

This morning I went to hospital to see my consultant for blood test results. I was expecting to get the go ahead to start my second chemotherapy cycle on Wednesday. My white blood cells (neutrophils) had other ideas. For treatment to continue as scheduled, they needed to be above 1,000 per millilitre (2,000+ is considered normal). Unfortunately my count was only 610, indicating neutropenia (*).

This means that my second cycle of chemotherapy has been put on hold for a week. Rats. However, everything else seems all right and my consultant was impressed that my lymph nodes have shrunk considerably.

I’ve been given a course of three G-CSF injections – a blood cell growth factor – to help the count recover. I gave myself the first injection under nurse supervision while I was at the hospital. It was much more straightforward than I feared (you ought to have seen my face when the consultant told me they were self-administered). You simply pinch some stomach fat (I have plenty), stick a very small needle into it and gently squeeze the syringe plunger until it clicks. It didn’t hurt at all thank goodness.

I’m now also the proud owner of my very own sharps bin to go with my ever-growing pill collection.

Sharps bin

(*) The Lymphoma Association provides an excellent explanation of neutropenia and the risk of infection on their website.

3 comments

  • Matt

    keep the updates coming – checking in regularly!

  • Wow Tim, sorry to hear about the cell count. They give me a single injection that I gave myself four days after chemo to promote white cell growth. Different protocols I guess? After the methotrexate, when I’m on the rescue medication, I have it on the second day. I still inject myself but I’m not as prosaic about as you! Keep your chin up and I’ll look forward to seeing your bald headed photo soon, embrace it. If only you’d gone on to get the docorate you would have had a nice warm cap instead of a mere mortar board!!!

    • tim

      Now that it’s happened once, I think the plan is to give me 2 or 3 shots a few days after every cycle. So I should be OK in future I hope! I’m back in again next Tuesday and assuming all is well cycle 2 will start then.

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