One of the great enemies of chemotherapy, and other anti-cancer drugs such as osimertinib, is infection. Low white blood cell count opens the door to germs getting inside you and spreading rapidly. Regular readers may recall the risk caused me to cancel my trip Down Under to see The Ashes and is the reason I can no longer fly.
Well the risk just became reality and I’ve had to ring the hospital’s 24/7 emergency cancer number 01422 xxx999. Despite being a Halifax number, it seems that this is a mobile phone based in ward 12 in Huddersfield. I’ve already had one visit to the ward to assist with pain relief after the osimertinib failed.
Dialling the emergency helpline on Tuesday morning I feared the worst. Tales of patients rapidly declining before they got to an antibiotic drip were going through my mind. A previous call to the helpline had gone unanswered. This time a nurse responded within seconds.
I described my two big toes to her. Victims of an ingrowing toenail on each foot, they had been in good nick in recent weeks but had started to hurt again. They’d each turned a deep red colour. And the pain was quite stingy.
The nurse asked me if I was shivering, sweating, feeling weak. No. Just my toes being a nuisance. I’ve never been on an anti-biotic drip and some ridiculous part of me was quite looking forward to it. Then, dream shattered!
“Get in touch with your GP, stress the urgency to be seen today and they should sort you out”. What? I’m not quite as far gone as I thought?
A call to GP. A two hour wait for a triage call back. I used to struggle with their same day appointment system but it’s been quite effective for me. Despite the delay in calling me back to assess me I was seen within thirty minutes. Two minutes later a seven day anti-biotic prescription. Two days later the sharp stingy pain is starting to recede.
Fingers crossed, this infection isn’t going to finish me off. “He had terminal cancer, but his ingrowing toenails killed him” wouldn’t have been a glorious end to it all.