Jun 20, 2011

10 Days for 10 Years ... Day 6

*just a side note:  I didn't post yesterday because it was Father's day.  My gift to Mark: no living in the past; we just enjoyed the day.  Hope you all don't mind.*

Day 6
Dictionary.com defines the following word:
1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous:
3. having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique: valuable naive 19th-century American portrait paintings.
4. not having previously been the subject of a scientific experiment, as an animal.
My personal favorite … number 4.
I’d never been the subject of a scientific experiment and quite frankly me and chemo were a pass/fail course.
The next day I came back my “counts” –counts are basically the makeup of your blood, white blood cell counts, platelet counts and red blood cell counts— were horrible. The head chemo nurse, Vickie, shook her head and in her oh so thick accent said, “You come back tomorrow, we’ll see if you have to go to the hospital.” 
“Hospital?”  The thought of me ever having to stay in a hospital never occurred to me.  It was as foreign as the port-a-catheter in my chest.
“Yes, hospital. We can’t have you bumping into a table and bleeding to death.” Then she laughed like this was the punch line we’d all been waiting for.
“Wh- what’s that?”
“You’re counts are low if they go lower it’s too dangerous for you.” Vickie looked at my husband, “If she has fever over 100 you go to the nearest emergency room and they’ll call us.  We’ll transfer her here.”
That night Mark and I played temperature roulette.
Every 30 minutes Mark would have me take my temp. I negotiated me taking the temperature because I knew I was well over 100 but I was NO WAY going to the hospital.  The clever girl that I am, I figured out how to hold the ear thermometer just outside my ear so it would register 99 maybe 100, but NEVER the true temp of 103 sometimes 104.    When it started creeping up to 104.5 I started getting a little worried.
How would it look if I had a febrile seizure?
Maybe I did need to go to the hospital? 
When I gave Mark the actual temp it was almost nine o’clock that night.  We’d been playing temperature roulette for almost 6 hours.
Long story short I ended up at USC’s University Hospital on the Transplant Ward.
Remember, my HMO contracted with USC, but NOT Norris.  I couldn’t stay in the cancer wing so the administrators thought transplant, cancer, transplant, cancer.
When midnight rolled around my final blood counts stood as follows:
WBC (white blood cell count, they’re your fighting cells) = near 0. 
Normal would be 4300 to 10800.
Platelets (those make you scab & bruise instead of bleed like a faucet) = 0.
Normal would be 150,000 to 450,000
RBC (Red Blood Cell count) = low. 
That’s all it said, low.  I figured it wasn’t zero or I’d be dead. 
My new nurse tucked me into an isolation room. 
No one without mask, robes or booties could come in. 
No outside food for fear of mishandling or parasites.
And no flowers or balloons. 
I spent a week in isolation trying to get my counts back to a safe level.
I needed blood.
I needed platelets
I needed out of isolation…
I also needed to shave my head.
On day two, I told Mark to get the clippers.  My hair was falling out in clumps and it hurt.  When my nurse walked in Mark had my hair up in one hand and the clippers in the other.  He looked like he was about to scalp me.
“What are you doing?!”
“Shaving my head.” I lifted just my eyes; Mark’s ponytail grip was pretty tight.  I think he thought I was a runner.
“Are. Are you sure. Are you sure you want to do that?”
“Either I take it or the chemo takes it.” I thought a moment. That would be my new mantra. I was taking back the small part of my life even if it meant going without.  “Shear me baby.”
The nurse stood there awestruck.  My shots on her tray along with a bag of blood or platelets for my first of many, many, many transfusions and watched my husband shave my head.

I walked into the hospital something like this…

And left like this…
it's okay, you can gasp.
I still do...

1 comment:

  1. Cali, you are such an inspiration. What an amazing story you have inside you. Thanks for being courageous enough to share it!


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