I am home from the hospital—hopefully for good this time. After my first hospital stay, I had in my head that I couldn’t go through that experience again. And I thought there would be no reason that I’d need to. Until March 30. On that day, I felt once again that my body was struggling in so many ways.

For the past 4 1/2 days, my emotions have been like a yo-yo. At first I was told that it is very odd for blood counts to drop again without another chemo treatment to precipitate a drop. I have been without a chemo treatment for four weeks. And I should have been healthy after my first hospital visit where I got new blood and a clean bill of health. So this second drop was a mystery. My first team of doctors (an attending oncologist and team of residents) were stumped. One doctor even paced my room saying, “You know this is odd, don’t you?” He just couldn’t figure out why this had happened. He told me I might need a bone marrow biopsy to determine what was going on. The worst-case scenario could include a diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma—both cancers. I lived with that fear for several days. I worried and cried and was completey unsettled. I already knew there is a chance of getting leukemia as a byproduct of chemo. But I was still shocked that this would be considered for me.

I never got the bone marrow biopsy. I was monitored for a few days, received IV antibiotics, and had my temperature taken religiously. Although my fever never dropped and my counts never increased, something good did happen. I got a new team of doctors

On the first of each month, a new team takes over. My new team never even considered a biopsy. The attending doctor believed I had a viral infection (due to my severe sore throat). He did not believe it is odd for counts to drop four weeks out from chemo. And an onset of a virus would bump them down even more. He added an anti-viral drug to my treatment plan. It worked. My sore throat was better the next morning. He also ordered injections of a growth factor to grow my bone marrow, which stimulates the growth of blood cells. This worked too. After two shots (one per day), my counts were even higher than they were when I was discharged from the hospital the first time. These injections do cause aches in my bones but this is manageable for now.

I will go to my oncology clinic on Monday and Tuesday for more shots and to have my blood checked. I’ll take an oral anti-viral medication at home to make sure the virus is gone. And I’ll hope this never happens again. If it does, a bone marrow biopsy may be necessary. Although there still is a chance that they will drop a bit due to radiation which is to begin in a week or so. If only I can breeze through this portion of the treatment.

There is no way to clearly express my feelings in writing about this whole ordeal. I can say that I’ve been up and down and sad and hopeful. I’ve sobbed and smiled and questioned and wondered. I mostly know that I will be okay when this is over. But sometimes I look at Joey and Danny and think about what their lives would be like without me. This is not negative thinking. I really do have a positive outlook, and I know I will fight whatever comes my way. But cancer brings mortality to the forefront. We are all going to die—some at an early age; some at an old age. But the gift for many is not knowing when it will happen. I don’t know when it will happen either, but my illness can be life threatening and the possibility for me seems more apparent now than before my diagnosis. So I am searching for the strength to live each day to the fullest, knowing tomorrow is not a guarantee. When my body is weak and sick, this is harder to do. But I feel so much better today so I think my yo-yo emotions should start to taper off. I’m going to start talking with a psychologist too—she focuses on young women with breast cancer—and I think she will help me put all my thoughts into perspective.

It is so good to be home. I’ve been without my boys for too many days. They sure are a sight for sore eyes—all three of them.

Jacki Donaldson

5 thoughts on “Discharged

  1. Welcome home ! What a beautiful, thoughtful, and honest addition to your journal, Jacki. I thought about you all day after our conversation this morning. Wondered if you had made it home … so happy you did. Doesn’t your home and family look like the best on earth when you’ve been away? I know the REAL John Paul the 1st. is thrilled to have you home. Check in with you tomorrow. Love, Jane

  2. Jacki, We were thrilled to hear the news from Jack today that you are home and feeling better. There is nothing like the safety and comfort you get from the four walls we call home. Connor is out of school this week for Spring break so bring the boys over to play. CHD

  3. After this ordeal is over I think you should make your Blog into a book for others! I am so glad you are home. -KD

  4. Jacki,
    So glad you are HOME! Adult-only dinner this week or bust. I’ll be in touch.
    Love, Bev

  5. It’s impossible to read this entry without crying and smiling, too. You are so loved, Jacki.

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