The Backstory

So having just turned 28, I didn’t think I’d be blogging about my experiences with cancer and my time in the hospital.  As much as a planner as I am, I’ve learned really quickly you can’t plan your life.  No matter how hard you try.

So here’s the backstory:

All of February I hadn’t been feeling very well.   Mostly that I thought I had pulled a muscle in my back, or just did something to get my whole body out of whack.  Basically I felt achy with a fever, but with no fever.  So the first Friday of February I went to the chiropractor and got a massage.   Over the weekend I hadn’t started feeling any better, so I made an appointment with my doctor.   I saw him on Tuesday, the 9th.  I had a hard time trying to describe what was going on, but told him I thought that I pulled a muscle carrying Ryan and stepping over baby gates, carrying groceries, basically just achy, so he gave me a muscle relaxer.  I was hoping that would make me feel better for our weekend trip home.

John, Ryan & I made our way to De Soto on February 11th, and not long after we got to Mom & Dad’s house, I got a fever.  I’m one of those people who if you take my temperature when I’m feeling good it will be 97 something.  I took a bath and got out running a 100.5 fever.  I went to bed shaking and the fever broke really quickly, and that’s when the sweating started.  I woke up the next morning still not feeling good, but in addition to weird pain in my back (and occasionally my hip), I was sweating and it hurt to take a deep breath.  My first instinct was that this is a side effect of the muscle relaxer my doctor had given me and my symptoms were side effects of the drug.   John and I had plans that day for him to meet with some folks at UMSL about the PhD program he had applied for and to stay in University City at a little boutique hotel for my birthday.  So I just stopped taking the medicine and we went about our plans for the night, even though I still wasn’t feeling good.

The next night I got to see my Mom’s side of the family for a baby shower for Brian & Jenn.  Of course I wouldn’t miss that for the world, but was still not doing so great.  Sweating, and a little bit of bruising had started.  Ryan had barely touched my earlobe and I had a bruise.  When I took a deep breath, it would sometimes feel tight in my chest, it would sometimes hurt in between my shoulder blades, again, hard for me to explain how I was hurting.

The next day was my birthday and we came back to Springfield.  When we got into town I went to Urgent Care because a few larger bruises had started showing up in my arms, it still hurt to take a deep breath and the sweating.  He dr. there said I had a virus and gave me an antibiotic.  I took that medicine for 5 days it lasted and still didn’t feel any better.

So towards the end of that week (like the 18th or 19th), I started seeing these red dots on my ankles and legs.  I started to notice more bruises.  I was still sweating like crazy and night and basically just had no energy at all.  I made up my mind that Monday morning (Feb. 22), I was getting into my doctors office.

I got an appointment on Monday and told my doctor all about what was going on, as best I could.  He looked at the bruises and spots and said that he thought I had “ITP”, which is basically a low amount of platelets in your blood after you get a virus.  He took some blood and ran some tests so we could see just how they were and how we would treat it.  When I got home of course I googled it to see what I could find out.  While the bruises and bumps made sense, the extreme tiredness or sweating didn’t seem to fit to me.  I just knew there had to be something else wrong.  I can’t be that lazy.

I tried to keep Ryan home with me on Tuesday while I waited for the results from the blood test, but I just couldn’t make it through the day.  I took him to the sitters and around 3 in the afternoon my dr. called me back.  You know it’s never good when your doctor is the one calling you.   He told me my platelet count was 12,000 (which is super, super low), but what they were more concerned about was that my white blood cell count was elevated.  They looked a little closer and saw that the white blood cells came back abnormal.  He told me I’d need to go to the hospital, check-in for a night or two to get some tests.  I asked what could some causes of abnormal white blood cells and he said wrapped around some other medical jargon “lymphoma” or “leukemia”.  When I asked “so… it could be cancer?”  he just said we just need to do some tests.  So John came home from work, we got Ryan from the sitter and took him to his parents, and checked into the hospital.

I was admitted and taken to the 5th floor, AKA the cancer floor.  I have no idea what’s going on, we’re walking down the hall and I see signs on other doors that say “Chemo in Process”.   I get to 525 and John and I sit here for about 20 minutes, not having any idea what’s going on.  I ask if a doctor is going to come talk to me and my nurse comes in and asks, “do you not know why you’re here?”.   Basically just a complete feeling of confusion around me while I feel like everyone else knows what’s going on.   I know Mom & Dad got in town around 8 Tuesday evening and I believe that was around the same time we talked with the doctor who is treating me, Dr. Ellis.  He basically just told us what tests we would be running Wednesday.

Wednesday morning I had a bone marrow biopsy, which I was really nervous about.  I got some morphine and they did a local so it wasn’t bad.   I also had a cat scan from my neck to my pelvis.  I had a EKG to make sure my heart is strong and finally I got a “port” put in my chest.

Thursday was just a day of waiting.  It was around 3:30 when Dr. Ellis came into to tell us the test results from day before.  With the result being Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).   Here is a link where you can read more about it.

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2 thoughts on “The Backstory

  1. Basically, they put me on the cancer floor, the next day said “some kind of lymphoma” and I did all the tests and EKG to make sure my heart was strong enough for chemo, & got the port, even though at no point anyone had actually said what it was I had yet. It all happened so fast, I think I’m still confused.

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