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Thursday, October 11, 2012

How much is too much?

This was probably one of the harder blog pieces to do, and I asked some family and friends how I should approach it.  Through this blog, I only wanted to share my story, not scare anyone, or disgust anyone with details, just share.  So when it came to some of the details, I finally felt that if I left them out then I was glossing over some of the story and tying it up with a "pretty bow".  Aplastic Anemia, and cancer are not pretty.  There is nothing glamorous about it, and you would not wish it on your worst enemies.  So it took me a while, but here it goes.

The few days that followed the transplant were pretty uneventful, except for my glorious visit from Matt Minglewood.  And then somewhere around Day Four or Five, the nurses were just getting ready for a shift change,after supper, when they came into my room to a check on me for their paperwork for the end of the day.  I can still remember the look on the nurse's face as she took my temperature and realized that it was elevated.  By this time, the nurses knew me well enough that I wanted any and all information right away, and I knew as soon as I saw her face that this high temperature was not going to mean for a good night.  She left the room, and was back in short time with a doctor and new bags on my now overburdened IV poles.  Yes, poles, I had two of them to hold everything, and they were my life line and I hated them.  The doctor informed me that they were calling Doctor Neville, but that a protocol was in place for when patients had a rise in temperature, and antibiotics were one of the first things they did.  It could just be a little infection somewhere, or it could be that my body was rejecting the new bone marrow in my body.  So the new drugs were started, and Doctor Neville showed up to check me out himself and tell the nurses to keep a close eye on me for the night.  As the evening wore on, and nothing was really happening, I told Mom and Dad to go get some sleep and I would do the same. 

At around 11p.m. I felt like something was going wrong.  I had terrible pain in my legs, and if possible, I felt even more sick than I had been the last few days.  One of my favourite nurses was on that night, we called her "Little Paula", and she came in and said with all my sweating, that maybe I would feel better with some clean sheets on the bed and some warm facecloths to rinse my neck and face off.  Once I started to sit up, I knew I would continue to throw up, so I asked Paula and another nurse to help me to the bathroom.  With all my contraptions, a walk to the bathroom was no easy task, but I got there, and back to the bed, but once there, I started getting violently sick, and I hit the clean sheets.  I was so humiliated, here the poor nurses had just cleaned the bed all up.  By this time it was almost 1a.m., and I was feeling worse and worse.  Another call was put into the doctor, and the nurses asked if I wanted to call my parents.  No, I did not want to wake them up, so I insisted the nurses not call them. 

And then for a 19 year old girl, who had lost so much in the last few weeks, it felt like I lost my pride altogether, as I continued to be so sick, I lost control of my bladder and bowels.  Now let me tell you, if this has never happened to you before, you are blessed.  It is such a humiliating experience.  I was still a self-conscious teenager, who was horrified every day that nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, and even visitors all got glimpses of various parts of my body and backside.  More funnier stories on that to follow.  But I was off to the bathroom again, this time, bawling my eyes out with humiliation as the nurses tried to help me get cleaned up.  As they helped me and reassured me that this happened to everyone, I remember looking at them and thinking they were saying that just to be nice.  I had never heard anyone describe such a horrible experience as part of their having chemo.  By the time they got me back to bed again, I felt like my heart was struggling, and I felt as weak as a new born kitten.  The nurses later told me that they thought they were going to lose me that night.  After asking me again, I agreed it was time to call the hotel, I wanted my mom.  I am sure it was probably one of the worst drives she and dad ever took, as they wondered what was waiting for them, as I had seemed okay when they left earlier.  Mom was white as a ghost almost upon her arrival, and poor Dad looked so lost as to what to do.  By this time, I was so exhausted, that I would fall asleep to only wake up violently throwing up again.  It felt like the longest night ever, and finally around 4a.m. I asked mom if she thought I was going to die.  She doesn't like talking about death, and she waved her hand slightly and said, "Of course not, this is just the chemo, you need to say some prayers, and you will be fine."  I don't know if I believed her or not, but I do remember thinking I was so humiliated that I did not want to go through another night like that one.  And I remember thinking that this was not how I wanted to live the rest of my days, so violently sick, it was no life, so if God was ready to take me, I was ready to go.  But that was in that moment, and in the morning, when I felt a bit better, I told God I changed my mind, I still had some more to do.

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