Sunday, October 14, 2012

How I discovered I had leukemia - Day 1

First a random story to start with.... We found my fifth grade journal not long ago when we were unpacking. It made for an amusing family afternoon read but it was clear from an early ago I am not a big journaler... so think of this as a way to get info on how I am doing but be ready for inconsistent posting, run on sentences, misspelled words and missing words (think faster than I can type).

With that background feels like I should start with how I found out I had leukemia. As most of you know, the girls and I (and our dog, Lilly) moved back from China in early June. We moved straight back into our house and I started a new job. We had the temporary furniture shipment arrive first, then the storage shipment the next day, the air shipment a few days later and then finally the sea shipment. Katherine luckily rose to the occasion and loved directing the movers around and was a huge help but it was an exhausting summer. It was six weeks just us before Chad came back for a week visit. He had one more visit and then got back for good about   3 weeks ago. So I had been feeling tired, but was expecting to be tired doing an international move with the kids, and starting a new job, by myself.

I did not work out much this summer (no time). When I did I used the elliptical in our basement. When I finally started running it was really hard and I was very short of breath. I reconnected with my old Cinti running buddies and met one for an early morning run. We were just going to do 2 miles but I could not go 2 minutes without having to stop to catch my breath. He commented though that I was not breathing hard and we both agreed it was good if I went to the doctor.

So this past Tuesday I went in for a check up with my laundry list of annual items plus being tired, short of breath and having more bruises than normal (I am clumsy and have always bruised easily also wrote off this sign this summer). My doctor said I was likely run down and depleted and drew some blood. I left expecting to get blood work back in a week to 10 days, and a diagnosis of take vitamins and suck it up and get back and shape.

The next day at work I had back to back meetings and had lucked into a ticket to see the Reds in the playoffs. I got an email from our nanny about 11 am saying I needed to call my doctor. I saw on my cell she had left a message too. I talked to her and she said I was severely anemic that she did not know how I was standing my red blood cell count was so low and that I needed to see a specialist that afternoon. My first question was did I really need to go that afternoon or could I go the next morning. She asked why and I explained I had back to back meetings followed by tickets to the Reds playoff game. Her long pause told me enough, and I agreed to leave work and get to the specialist in the next hour. Luckily Chad had googled what I told him about my blood work results and cleared his calendar too, offered to drive me and stay with me.

That office stay started with more blood work (a trend that continues) and then led to a bone marrow biopsy (something I would not wish on my worst enemy). The biopsy involves making an incision in your skin in your back above your hip and inserting a needle into your hip bone to extract a piece of bone and bone marrow. The nurse doing the procedure commented my bones were strong and asked if I worked out. When I told him I was a runner he asked if I had done a marathon... ironically enough I said yes I had run one with Leukemia Society Team in Training.

After more time at the oncologist's, she sat down to meet with us and told us they were very concerned. I had about a 1/3 the amount of blood I should have in my system and even lower amounts of platelets (to help clotting). They were sending me to the hospital to be admitted overnight to get a blood and platelet transfusion.

When we left the office all I could think was given the fact all my grandparents and aunts, etc. had died from cancer new I would get that diagnosis one day just thought when it happened I would feel sick, and be much older.

I got to go home for about an hour, pack a bag then Chad, Katherine and Margaret dropped me off at the hospital. After multiple tries to get an IV in (turns out no blood in your veins makes them hard to stick), they called in the IV specialist lady. She luckily was able to get one in. For the next 12 hours I laid in bed and while blood and platelets dripped into me. The were a few  surprises at the hospital. First, was the bed moved every few minutes (to ward off bed sores). A feature I am sure I will appreciate during my upcoming stay but with just one overnight stay where my vitals were getting taken minimum every hour wished there was an off button. Second, was my very dear friends, Carol and Molly, who had called to check on me and who wanted to come to the hospital right away. I told them thank you but I was tired but they decided that is what they would say too but they would want company so they came :). It was very nice to have friends and some extra hugs.

The last "highlight of the night" was my very nice, but extremely chatty elderly roommate. At first her chit chat was nice, once they closed the curtain between us and she kept talking it got to be a pain. At about 11pm when I was sleeping she started up again and my friends, Molly and Carol, were laughing so hard behind the curtain with me that I thought they were going to loose it :). She woke me up in the morning as well with a chipper hello, it was just time in her mind.

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