I don't really use thermometers. If someone has a fever, I usually can tell, just by touching their forhead, if it is low or high. The exact temperature is not really that important. For myself, I usually can tell by the way I am feeling, though it is less reliable. Up until Friday, I did not think it really mattered.
Friday morning, I woke up feeling sick and miserable. My head was stuffed and I just felt awefull. Had it been any other day of the week, I would have just stayed in bed. But with two kids on antibiotics for strept throat, I did not want to take a chance of getting worse over Shabbat. So I dragged myself out of bed and asked Moshe to take me to the doctor.
The doctor on call checked me thoroughly. Unfortunately, I had a fever 38.7, and my white blood cell count was slightly low. The doctor gently directed me to go to the emergency room.
"But I just have a cold!" I protested.
"I know," he answered sympathetically, "but you also have a fever."
"I'm going to cry," I announced, sniffling.
"You are allowed to cry," he reassured me.
The doctor agreed to call my oncologist for a second opinion. To my chagrim, without any prompting, I could tell that my oncologist was instructing him to send me to the hospital.
Moshe took me to the hospital.
On the way, I realized that I might not get back home in time to cook for Shabbat. I called my friend and asked if she could get the chickens from my house and cook them for us for Shabbat.
At the hospital, my oncologist came by the emergency room (it just so happened that he was on call today). The intake nurse had already taken my temperature, which was normal, when we spotted him.
"Can I just go home?" I asked, pleading.
"You have to follow the protocol," my doctor explained.
They would be doing a chest X-ray (to check for pneumonia), blood cultures, and blood tests, and a doctor would see me.
"But I just have a cold," I protested weakly. I could tell already that I was doomed to be there for several hours. "I just want to go home," I pronounced, to no one in particular.
The doctor walked us to the X-ray. On the way, he looked at me sternly, "I told you that if you have a fever, you need to go to the emergency room." I had not understood that this applied, even when other factors could explain the fever (like a simple virus). "What is the minimum fever?" I needed to know. 38 and above. (I would not have thought that 38 was significant enough to warrant notice.)
The X-ray technician was a friendly guy, with long curly hair. He made me laugh.
When I came out of the X-ray room, my oncologist was gone. We went back to the main area of the emergency room.
We returned to the comfortable chairs and waited.
I called Y and asked her to take care of what she could at home (the place was a wreck and I could tell that I would not be back in time to clean it up).
A few minutes later, another friend called. She heard we were in the hospital (her daughter was with Y when I called), and offered to cook some food for us. "A friend is already making us chicken and rice," I told her, "but we would love salad or vegetables." And with that, I stopped worrying about what we would eat for Shabbat.
I was still sitting around, waiting for someone to take my blood. (When the intake nurse tried to take my blood, she hurt me. To her credit, when I asked her to "please stop and get someone else," she immediately took out the needle. That said, I still have a huge bruise where she was poking around).
At 2:00, I went to the head nurse and suggested that it would be a real shame if I ended up staying in the hospital all Shabbat because they did not take my blood in time. She agreed and stopped what she was doing to help me. She used a blood pressure band to build up pressure in my veins, then found a vein in my hand. The needle hurt less than I though it would. In a few minutes, she was done.
The nurse advised me to sit patiently for 1/2 an hour, until the bloodwork is done, and then to come be "pushy."
I sat back down and drifted off to sleep. (Let's not forget that I was not feeling well)
Finally, the doctor called us in. The main blood work was done. My white blood cell count was slightly low and I had a virus (I knew that). I wondered if my count was low because of the chemo or the virus. Both, she explained, and advised me to check my blood count again on Sunday. She asked us to wait until all the test results were complete and then we could go.
It was after 3:oo when we were finally able to check out.
We got home less than 1/4 of an hour before Shabbat.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,