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Saturday, August 18, 2012

How bad could the first few days be?

For my first bone marrow test, the doctor was late coming back, and by the time he returned, I had insisted that Mom and Dad go get some lunch.  I remember saying to them that even if the doctor came back, it was just a test. 

If you are queasy, or don't like too many details, this might be a part to skip. 

A nurse came in just before the doctor to "prep" me.  I told her I had never had an IV before, and that it was still hurting my hand, and I asked her if this test was going to be worse than that?  She was a portly, older woman, who smelled of baby powder, and her shoes looked like they were the same as some of the nuns that I had lived with the year before, like they were sturdy and comfortable.  As she rolled me onto my right side to face the door, she pulled the curtain around the bed and said that it was not be the nicest test, but Doctor Hayes was good, and it would be over fairly quick.  My rolling table was holding a wrapped up tray, and once the nurse had me rolled on my side, she put the tray behind me, and a quilted pad under me.


It was a good thing I couldn't see the tray, I think I would have been running for the door.  Now, I would have been googling bone marrow test before I had to have it done, but back then, I had never heard of it, and I had never even heard of google before.  To tell you about this, I tried watching it again on youtube, but I just couldn't, I had to turn it off.  Basically, all the above gadgets are used to get to the middle of your bone, and a sample of your bone marrow is extracted. 

I remember the doctor getting me to pull my knees towards my chest, and me squeezing that poor nurse's hand so tight that I must have left an imprint of my own.  She kept reminding me to take deep breaths and telling me I was doing great.  My body never worked very well for anything they did, and this test was no exception.  I had reacted to getting the blood transfusion, so they said for others I would have to have benadryl before receiving the transfusions.  And now the doctor was having a hard time getting a sample of my bone marrow.  And due to the fact that they wanted my bone marrow to give an accurate result, I could not take any drugs before hand.  I just kept wanting to be knocked out, as the doctor moved the needle around and I tried hard not to yell out.  And then he said we were done, and he wanted me to stay  on my side and the nurse would be back in a minute to get me cleaned up.

They left the room, and even though it was done, it was then, as I laid there alone that I started crying like a baby.  Why was this happening to me?  When were they going to say I could go home?  And at that moment, my father walked around the foot of the bed, and took in the mess behind me and turned as white a sheet.  All he said was, "You okay?"  And when I answered yes, he spun on his heel and went out the door.  I never asked him if the sight of me with my backside hanging out or all the blood and instruments were what sent him to the hall.  I never asked him if he felt sick to his stomach, or if he just didn't know what to say when he say me crying. But the nurse must have saw his leaving because she came bustling in to get me cleaned up, and to tell me that I was going to have a doozy headache and I probably wouldn't want to lay on my backside for a while.  Great, I thought, like the test wasn't enough. 

The rest of that day was like an extra long Sunday.  You know those days when you don't really have anything to do, and the time just drags.  I remember falling asleep around 2p.m. and waking up thinking I had been having an unbelievable dream.  But I was still in the narrow hospital bed, and my parents were still sitting staring at me, and it was only 2:45p.m.  We waited all day to hear some word from some doctor, but nothing.  Just after supper I was told that I was being moved up the 8th floor, because the doctors that I would be dealing with mostly worked up there. So then instead of sharing a room with one other woman, I was moved into a room with three other women.

Paula Conrad was in the bed directly across from me, and I soon realized that her husband, Brian would also be spending the night with us.  They taught me about real, true, never settle for anything less kind of love, and I still love them so much for how much they shared with me.  That first night on the 8th floor I felt like I was spying on them as I watched Brian put cool facecloths on Paula's forehead, and brought her cool drinks when she said she was dry.  As the night got worse for her, Brian brought her a wash basin so she could get sick, and when she did not want to use a bed pan he carried her to the bathroom.  Every time she would get  sick, he would get a facecloth and clean her face, and wipe her neck and chest off.  I had never seen such tenderness and I felt like an intruder. 

The other two room mates shared their stories over breakfast the next day, but you know, I never asked Paula what kind of cancer she had, even though she was so sick, she never talked about it.  Instead the next morning she got Brian to get a wheel chair and take her out into the sunshine to start her day.  They landed back with a get well card and a troll doll for me that had rainbow colored hair, and was holding a get well sign.  Troll dolls were kind of "in" at the time, but I had never seen one before, but I liked his chubby cheeks and evil grin.  And how nice of this couple to go buy me something when I had just seen them both put in a night from hell.  They sat on Paula's bed and talked about the nice day, and pulled out some magazines, all with covers of Elvis Presley.  Neither of them knew I was a huge Elvis fan, my friends and family had picked on me about my love of him for years.  I immediately felt even closer to them, and we talked about how they had been able to see him in concert before he died.  I could not help thinking these were maybe some of the coolest people I had ever met, how lucky was I to have such a great room mate!

By the time Mom and Dad arrived I had made some new best friends.  I had arrived Wednesday, and Friday morning I had my first visitors.  Who was it?  And was it a sign of some kind?  I thought nothing of it at the time, but it was Tim's, Craig, and his father, Cliff.  Tim is now my husband.  I did not know his father very well, but I loved his brother dearly, so I was both surprised, and happy to see them both.  But we had only just started to chat when a group of doctors came in and asked if they could talk to me.  It was my introduction to Dr. Tom Neville, but he was with a group of about six residents, and they were kind of talking over and around me about what tests had been done, and what would be done next.

Just as they were finishing up was when my parents arrived, and Doctor Neville asked if he could talk to all of us in  a small room at the end of the hallway.  As I shuffled my way down the hall, I turned back to see Craig still standing there with Cliff, and I remember thinking I would rather go and sit and chat with them then listen to what this doctor was going to say. 

Doctor Tom Neville closed the door behind us and asked us to sit down, and you could feel a heaviness descend on the room.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Verna. Amazing story - brings back memories of "making our the trip" to Halifax. I am glad you're sharing yours - may it give others hope.

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