Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Haunting Memories

I actually slept until a decent, reasonable, time this morning.
I did not write my posting at 4:30 am.
It is now 7:48, and I have just gotten out of bed.
This sudden ability to sleep like a reasonable person may be from tapering the prednisone to 15mg.
It is certainly not from the cocktail I have been taking to knock me out at night so I can get my beauty sleep.
It also my have something to do with the fact that poor, sick, Xander woke up three times last night after finally falling asleep at 10 pm. is getting special treatment because he stills feel sick, but damn, I didn’t think the pain would go on this long.
I know that is a common problem & misconception with just about any surgery.
People have a tendency to look at the timeframe in days, nights, or weeks, then they get incredibly frustrated when they haven’t healed to their standards according to their schedule.
I know it. I have done it. I’m doing it know with Xander.
I just want my baby better!
But our bodies have a whole timeline of their own. It is very scary to realize that despite all the best efforts and health seeking behaviors.
We all have to admit at some point in our lives that we are not in control of everything.
I, personally, really, really, hate that.
Xander was up coughing, gagging and complaining that his throat & ears hurt. He was given three baths. He also seems to have a stomach bug that keeps him running to the toilet.
He was on zithromax and I don’t think this would give him the runs.
The augmentin he was on before the surgery would, but it’s been a while since he has taken that.
His tummy sickness leads me to guess that my little episode was probably viral, again.
I am not in anyway saying I’m not “FOS,” but I am extremely susceptible to viruses (Hello, I am the poster child for the immuno-compromised cancer patient post-transplant and on immuno-suppressants).
Unfortunately, we only know it’s a virus when my son starts exhibiting the same nasty symptoms a couple days later.
While I am suffering, I have the gamut of possible diagnosis running through my head.
An angry bowel is a very bad thing with a hundred different possible outcomes.
I am exceptionally paranoid about my abdomen due to a past experience with a patient.
When life happens, you never know which moments are going to stay with you forever and what they will mean in the future.
I was floated to the Emergency Department when a man was rushed in by his family, having extreme abdominal pain.
He had been fine. He was driving the car up to the mountains in New Hampshire for vacation with his family, which consisted of his wife and a friend.He was absolutely fine that morning. He had packed his car. He had planed a trip.
Then, suddenly, his stomach hurt.
His family rushed him to the nearest emergency department because of his diagnosis.
He had CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
CLL is a disease, mostly of the elderly, that can be maintained for the long term. People live with this cancer all the time. It is common that the leukemia is not even the cause of death it is so insidious and slow moving.
That’s what this guy thought he had. He had adjusted his life accordingly and was still going about his business, enjoying vacations with the family, then, WHAMO, he has stomach pain and ends up in the emergency department, as my patient.
He was rushed to what I used to term the “dead bed,” where critical patients are placed since it has easy access to the code cart, defibrillator, monitors, etc.
It’s in the direct line of site from where the nurses, doctors, and secretaries sit.
His stomach let loose once he was on the bed, this terrible, gelatinous mound.
Generally working in critical care, where the though process of patient actions is different, I thought it was C-Diff, a common bowel problem from having too many anti-biotics.A seasoned emergency room nurse told me to test it for blood.
Who do you think was right?
The leukemia patient had just lost pints of blood in front of me. He had also simultaneously lost his blood pressure and any color he had in his cheeks when he arrived.
I frantically hung fluids and called for blood, lots of it.
The attending doctor came in and sent me back to the Intensive care Unit to prepare for this patient to be transferred, officially, into my care.
I went back to the unit and paced.I didn’t want this patient. I didn’t want him all alone, on my hands. How could I save him?
I was 22 years old at the time.
I wrestled with the mortality of the situation, like most new health care providers do.
He was fine earlier. He was driving to go on vacation with his loved ones and then suddenly his disease ups and attacks him.
How am I going to keep him alive?
Then I heard the speakers over head stating, “Code Blue. Emergency Department. Code Blue. Emergency Department.”
A code blue is cardiac arrest.
In our small, rural hospital we had a “code team” assembled for emergencies since more hands may be needed in a cardiac arrest situation to do things such as compressions.
The therapists are also involved and they come to counsel the family members.
It was the man with CLL, who would have been transferred into my care in the intensive care unit had he survived.
He didn’t survive.
I am not going to lie, I was relieved it occurred in the emergency department and not in the intensive care unit.
I’m sure if it had, the memory would have even more of a traumatic significance.
God would not do that to me.I was depressed afterwards.
Even being a healthcare provider and having had experience with cardiac arrests and death, I was still trying to control my emotions.
It is human nature to feel great sadness when confronted, face-to-face, with humanities’ mortality, even if that person is not you.
It is also difficult as a provider, especially since many of us are perfectionists who try to control everything.
Death is a big message stating you are not in control, you will never be in total control, despite your best efforts.
I didn’t realize this memory would haunt me when I experienced it.
I didn’t know at the time that I would fight a battle against a lymphoma that just would not leave.
My current situation gives special meaning to this memory.
I don’t think memories are given enough credit regarding how they influence our actions, thoughts, and feelings.
I am scared to death (he he, it’s a joke) of abdominal problems.
I try to control my paranoia, but there is always that thought lurking in the back of my head with the image of this patient, thinking “He was fine that morning. He was headed for vacation with his family.”
On that note, it is summertime, and I am headed for a series of vacations through the warm months.

**These Images are produced by a German artist. I feel terrible I have lost the source and can not give him the much deserved credit for his art that has spoken to me, yet. The e-zine is "Janus" something. Janus, I just discovered, is the roman god of beginnings and endings. You learn something new and interesting every day.***

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