Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Winter is always a strange time of year.  We expect the colder weather to make us feel grumpy, yearn for summer (all 2 sunny days of it) and dream of lying on a stunning beach on some sun-drenched pacific island.  And let' not forget the inevitable winter ills.

I've never had a flu-injection, partially because I keep hearing stories about people actually getting the flu from them (apparently an urban myth, but the jury is still out for me), and partially because I don't see much sense in vaccinating yourself against last year's strain.  In all fairness, I have been pretty lucky, enjoying sufficiently good health not to fall victim to full blown flu, but instead enduring a few days of heavy head and/or chest colds form time to time.

When I started my cancer treatments back in July 2010, it was made clear to me that my immune system would take a hit, and fever/infection was my enemy.  It was as blunt as if my temperature hit 38 degrees, it was straight to the hospital for me.  Moving forward to winter 2011, I only suffered a mild head cold that responded to a couple of days away from work (as much as a prevention strategy to ensure I didn't get exposed to anything else going around the office at the time).

So, you can imaging my surprise this year, as early in the flu season as it is, that I've been off work since last Friday afternoon and won't be making my way back until Thursday.  That's effectively a week of being laid low. Damn, blast it.

I didn't think it was anything major, but come Sunday when my whole body felt like it was in shutdown and I was forever chasing my runny nose, I decided some intervention was required.  First instinct was a trip to the pharmacy for an over the counter solution, but by the time my symptoms (and treatment history) were disclosed, they recommended a trip to the Doctor instead.  Bugger.  Never mind, got an appointment for 2pm, so just suffered in semi-silence until then.

As it turned out, the 2pm appointment was the first after their lunch-break, so there was no waiting - somebody was looking out for me.  After the obligatory checks, and again relaying my history, the after-hours doctor decided I didn't have a chest infection, but the colour of the mucus in my throat indicted something wasn't right, so I ended up with some antibiotics to deal to that (and effectively hold a potential chest infection at bay).

Two interesting things came out of all this.  Firstly, my temperature was 37.9 degrees.  22 months ago, that would have been sufficient to have us getting ready for an ambulance trip to the hospital to avoid hitting the "magic" 38 degree threshold.  Just as was the case all that time ago, I'd never given any thought to actually taking my temperature, but my excuse now is I didn't think it was as big an issue as it was then.

The second factlet was both more interesting and scary.  According to the Doc, I've still got to be very mindful of infections, because apparently cancers "respond" unfavourably to infections.  There seems to be some school of thought that cancers can be activated by infections.

Couple of thoughts here.  If this is true, how come nobody had mentioned it before at any of the clinics.  And, if it is indeed the case, I certainly wouldn't have waited as long to go to the Doctor.  Gees, with everything I've been through, the last thing I want to happen is to give TC a foot in the door again.

So, I've got something to raise with the gang of seven in June.

I am however happy to report that the drugs seems to be working.  My body isn't aching anywhere near as much today, the runny nose has almost dried up, and the coughing is nowhere as violent.  Now to just get some energy back.