After doing some blood work last week, my primary doctor called me in a bit of a panic when he saw the results.

Every blood value is low, lower than I’ve ever had. Hemoglobin down again, more anemic, neutrophil count down to 0.6. So I have just about no immune system. I’m lacking white blood cells, and red ones.

This explains how I’ve been feeling. Incredibly weak, light headed, and my heart races just moving a few feet. Last week I stood up to get my laptop from my office, and half way there I was sure I was about to face plant. I made it to my office chair and had to lay my head on my desk for a couple of minutes to try to hold consciousness. Since that scare, I’ve been really careful to not get up too fast. I’ve had to take afternoon naps some days, when I haven’t napped since after surgery.

My doctor asked me if I had a fever or was bleeding anywhere. He sent me to take my temperature while he called my chemo care doctor in Whitehorse to see what to do. My temperature was okay. He called back to say she calmed him down a bit and said some people just tank out after their last chemo and will take awhile to bounce back.

He decided there was nothing to do to intervene, and I’d just have to carry on and come back in a couple weeks to check my blood values again. He re-emphasized that if I get a fever, it is an emergency situation, and I need to get to the ER immediately. I asked if I was allowed to leave the house. He said I could, but to be sure to wash my hands lots. There is a GI bug going around town so he said this would would be a great excuse to to stay home and watch TV.

Of course I’ve been sitting here watching TV for almost a year, so I went out.

I’ve been trying to find some sort of middle ground where I don’t miss out on things, because life is for living, but still being cautious. I don’t want to slow down my recovery, but I don’t think just sitting here watching MASH and Friends reruns and watching the clock tick by is the greatest thing for me either.

Last weekend I went to our friend’s birthday party. We went early and didn’t stay too long – just long enough to play some Crokinole, Klask, and Charades, and to eat some ice cream cake. My heart beats so fast I have to walk and climb stairs slowly, and then sit my butt down and not move around much.

Last weekend we also went out to our friend’s gold mine for a bonfire and weiner roast.

This weekend was the annual “Trek over the Top” event, where 150 or so people ride their snowmobile from Tok, Alaska over here to Dawson City, Yukon for a weekend of fun. Jeff is a member of our local snowmobile club and he helps out with the event. On Thursday he was at their warming tent half way out to the border for the day. It’s a 200 mile ride for the participants. The roads are not open or plowed between Tok and Dawson in the winter, so there are Alaskan volunteers who groom the American side of the trail, and our local club grooms from town out to the border. At the warming tent they had a fire and gas for anyone running low. They made sure everyone was feeling well and warm, and that their sleds were running well before the last leg of their ride into Dawson.

On Friday was the club’s sled drop, where they drop an old snowmobile from a helicopter on the frozen river. Everyone can buy wooden stakes and go place them on the river and whoever’s stake is the closest to the falling sled gets big prizes! I sat out the sled drop, but joined our friends from the snowmobile club afterwards at one of our local bars for supper and some drinks (well just Pepsi for me, I think a beer would have me flat on my face). Here are a couple pictures Jeff took from the sled drop.

Saturday was the club’s poker run. Each year our local club lays out a trail for everyone to ride for an hour or so, picking up cards along the way to make their poker hand. I knew I shouldn’t ride in my condition, so I drove out in my car to near the stop where they serve hot chocolate and hot dogs by a fire, and Jeff picked me up on the snowmobile and took me just on a safe two minute ride to the gathering.

I sat there by the fire for the afternoon in a lawnchair. We’re starting to get nice mild spring temperatures, in the -10C’ish range with gorgeous warm sunny days, and lately it’s been just -20 at night rather than -30. This week we may even go above 0C during the afternoons! Just in time for Uncle Paul to fly in! He would have loved this Trek event, maybe he’ll have to come back next year with his sled!

The “trekers” are a bunch of fun folks. Many of them come every year. Some people even come from far away just to participate. We talked to one guy from New York state! I’m guessing he didn’t skidoo all the way to Tok!

Last evening we met up with everyone again at another of our local watering holes for supper and drinks. I stayed out for several hours, but I know once my thighs feel really weak to stand and I’m flushed yet freezing, that it is time to go home, so I tapped out and didn’t go join the evening party at Gertie’s, and warmed myself up by our woodstove instead. I slept great last night!

Here are some of the scenes from in town yesterday. There are a couple streets that looks like this, with sleds parked all along the edge of the street:

So there’s my last week. Am I doing the right thing by leaving the house? I don’t know. I’m washing my hands all the time, I’m really careful what I touch, avoiding touching my hands to my face/eyes/mouth. Really, I’m super happy for being around friends, having fun and laughs.

I’m missing out on a team meetup at work this week. I made the right choice not to go. I’d never be able to walk across an airport, let alone the risk of picking something up with no immune system.

I’m really hoping to get back to work next month though. My doctor has his doubts, and is concerned I’m rushing things. Even with a staggered phase in back to work, he’s worried I’ll get into my work and not stick to working just a short time each day. He said you’re telling me you can’t walk a block, but you want to go back to work? I said I don’t have to walk to work! haha. He gets it though. I don’t want to be feeling better but still sitting around. I want normalcy. I’m so afraid I will have lost my work ethic. I’m also equally afraid I’ll never be able to work the same again. My brain is fuzzy, my memory isn’t as good, I can’t always find the words anymore. Will I be able to regain my pace? Will I make a ton of mistakes? Will I be able to keep this job I love? These are things I’m concerned about.


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

7 Replies to ““Everything is low, very low”

  1. Glad you are getting out a little bit and I think being careful is important to not get sick but your mental health is important as well. I saw Paul this week and he is very excited to come out for a visit! Keep taking those small baby steps and rest when you need it! Big hugs girl we love you so much! ❤️🥰

  2. We’re ready to welcome you back whenever you/your doctor feel you’re ready to come back. We’ll always be here – no need to rush. I love how you’re balancing keeping yourself healthy (no airports!) with also enjoying life and friends. Hang in there!

  3. Lisa….you are one strong lady! I’ve never had chemo before, but my sister has, and I remember her last one was the worst! Please hang in there….I know you need to look after you’re emotional self, so please keep doing what you’re doing… are almost at the end of this journey!

    Gail…( whom you have never met but would love to)

  4. You have been through a tough year , your body will need to readjust, hang in there . WE are all hoping you feel better soon. Does your Doctor recommend a diet to increase your immune system?Do you eat asparagus daily?How about supplements to build up your blood ? Vita Tree has some great vitamins etc, I just ordered some from Shopping Channel yesterday. One day at a time . Hoping next message finds you feeling stronger. Lorraine

  5. Sorry to hear you are feeling weak Lisa. This part made me laugh though: “Of course I’ve been sitting here watching TV for almost a year, so I went out.” – That’s a very Lisa thing to say/do.

  6. I can totally empathize with the need to get out and socialize, and I do it as well even though my immunity is in the can. Good for you! I had to comment and say I live your blog and your life in the North reminds me a little of ours here in rural Newfoundland, where kids often ride their snow mobiles and quads to school! Weekends are for ice fishing or trouting, depending on the season, although I usually just paddle around or ski around!!
    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing😊

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