zen.org Communal Weblog

March 8, 2011

Day 0 (B)

Filed under: — brendan @ 22:22 IST

We’ve made it through Day 1.

Yesterday was Day 0, when the doctor said I didn’t have the flu—instead, because of an insanely high white blood cell count, I had some kind of cancer.  Pause for about 5 seconds, then he specified: he was fairly certain I have leukemia.

The world and any concept of reality kind of fell to a crawl for both of us; the world went yellow for Elana, and she couldn’t breathe.  I thought I was hallucinating—my face expected the doctor to quickly correct himself, after realizing he was talking to the wrong people.  Unfortunately, his diagnosis was for me.

Week – 1

On a 4-day work trip to Eindhoven in The Netherlands, I started feeling constant headaches, didn’t have much of an appetite, and a regular dry mounth no matter how much water I guzzled.  Despite not feeling nautious or having diarrhea, I figured it was some variant of the flu which would go away.  But the consistency of the headaches, and the fact that other symptoms, like coughing, only happened once in a while.   But the other catch was, I was constantly exhausted.  I had trouble sitting up for an hour, but I was also waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, feeling dehydrated.

Day 0

At the encouragment of some friends, we made an appointment with our GP to let us at least get some meds to make the headaches stop.  The recurring headaches worried him, given my history of a traumatic brain injury back in 1993.  (Here’s some interesting timing for you: an interview I did a couple of weeks ago with Dick Gordon, a nationally syndicated radio show.  It aired online—today.)

I was getting dizzy when he tried to draw a blood sample, and even if he could take it, we’d wait until the late afternoon to get the results.  Instead, he suggested we go into the St Vincents hospital in Dublin where they could do those tests much faster, as well as any others.

We went up to the A&E (Emergency Room) at about 10 in the morning, and I spoke first with a triage nurse, and then with a triage doctor asking me for all sorts of details.  She ran me through a battery tests we realized were to make sure I wasn’t suffering from a stroke, and then asked a bunch of other questions.  She wanted to talk to the Registrar (sort of the on-call A&E docter), who came to ask lots of the same questions.  He decided they should get some blood tests done, and would come back to us with more information.  The all had the theory that it was some sort of flu variant.

A while later, he came back, introducing the doctor who’s in charge of Hematology.  He’s the one who tried to ease us into the information, but at one point he had to just spit it out.  He said because of the condition, we had to start working on it immediately.

They moved us to a bed in the hall (Irish hospitals are overcrowded), and after a wait they offered us tea and toast.  We could sip the tea, but neither of us could stomach the toast.

Finally an administrative secretary said they had a room for me, in their cancer ward.  Can’t really remember a lot of detail of exactly what happened between then and when Elana finally went home and I lay down to try to sleep.  I know I was set up with a saline drip, and had to not drink or eat anything starting at midnight for procedures the next day.

Trying to sleep last night was hard, waking up constantly.  Lots of it was to pee, but plenty was just my hyperactive brain hitting any and every piece of information you can imagine.

More about today (Day 1)  tomorrow.

We’ve passed through the 2 hardest days in this entire journey.  And we’re still here.

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