Saturday, May 3, 2014

Maybe I was sicker than I thought

Let's go in the way, way back machine to this, my first chemo and first blog post. People who know me in real life know that the nurse who gave me my first chemo has left MHMC and now is a hospice nurse. At my agency! I had nothing to do with it. A relative worked there already, but I think that the universe had reasons of its own for throwing us together, which may or may not become clear as life (and this blog post) unfold. Either way, I am sure glad that I get to work with her because she is a great hospice nurse!

She called me this morning to talk about one of our patients that she had seen earlier. We thought about him and made some changes to his medications. Then as we were saying goodbye, she mentioned that "Ellie and I are getting our pictures taken this weekend." I realized that Ellie must be her daughter and said, "O, my daughter's name is--" and she said, "yes, but yours is Eleanor and mine is Eliana." I realized that we must have had this conversation before and it did not even sound vaguely familiar to me. How could I have lost track of such an important details as her daughter and my daughter have the same name? I then realized she must have told me this when I was sick. If I didn't remember it--like at all--that must mean that I was pretty sick. I said that to her and she confirmed that yep, I had been pretty sick and yep, that's how she knew my daughter's name and yep, we'd had the whole conversation about it. That there were times she was pretty worried about me because I had been so sick. I think I've discussed before that I never had the idea that I was really sick. I mean, obviously, I had leukemia, but sick? Nah.

Now, I know: was I sick? Sometimes. Most of the time, I was pretty well and it wouldn't have made any sense to tell me how sick I was. The rest of the time, I was honestly too sick to care. I wonder what would have happened had someone told me when I was semi-delerious that I was pretty sick. For all I know, some one did because my memory of those days is pretty thin.

As far as I can tell, here is the last pre-leukemia picture of me. I don't look sick, do I? My ANC was like 200 at the time this was taken.
I happened to go to Lebanon today to visit Dr. Hill. You'll be glad to hear that my labs are all ok. I told him the story and he said that yes, I was sick, but I was never in any real danger. I told him the story of the one time I thought I was going to die from my leukemia. Afterwards, I stopped by the nurses station as I always do. They see so many patients do horribly that it is nice for them to see one go off and thrive. There were only about six staff who remembered me there still, but I know it was nice for them to see a patient come back with a full head of hair, plump and wearing regular clothes. I took a picture of one of them and texted it to the nurse I mentioned above and she said hi back and it was very nice. Later in the day, when I realized that I wanted to write about this, I texted her and asked her to call me at her convenience so I could ask her permission. She read the text, knew I'd been in Lebanon and immediately her heart dropped into her boots, thinking something bad had happened to me.

When does it end? When will a bruise be just a mark of clumsiness? a text from Lebanon just a hello and a set of labs just an opportunity to see if I've developed the B12 deficiency my family is rife with?

May we all learn the lessons we need from our experiences.

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