The Power of Praying for Poop
Once again, your prayers have proved effective. We’ll just say I’ve returned to my “regular” programming. I think it is safe to stop the post “#2” prayers, as we don’t want to swing too far in the other direction.
From Home to the Hospital: One Man’s Journey
Some have asked how I knew to go to the doctor. At least one person instructed me to tell it in a funny way. It’s pretty straight forward and I’m not sure it’s funny, but we’ll see what comes out.
I’ve had the same Primary Care Provider (PCP) since 2003. This past summer, she left the practice, which left me without a doc. Lindsey really liked a PCP she had seen previously, so I made a mental note to make an appointment with him. That mental note stayed tucked away for a few months until Open Enrollment rolled around. I had to pick a PCP, so I put down Dr. Jeffrey Kons, the one who Lindsey had seen 2 years ago. Now I had 2 mental notes…1) I needed to make an appointment with him 2) I needed to do it before the end of the year, because starting next year the health plan I chose required me to pay full costs of visits unless it was an annual exam. I rarely had need to see a doctor, so mental notes 1 and 2 sat a bit longer.
Finally, on somewhat of a whim, I called his office on November 26th to set up an appointment. My appointment was scheduled and I didn’t give it much thought. I figured we’d talk about the meds I was taking, get to know eachother a bit, and then I wouldn’t see him for a year or two.
On the night of November 28th, I had an odd sensation under my right rib cage. It wasn’t painful, but it felt like a hand was tucked just under my skin. Not knowing my anatomy, I asked my good friend Dr. Google what lied beneath my right rib cage and found out it was my liver. I have a bad habit of leaning into my desk at times. When I do this, it pushes in the same spot as my liver, so I just figured I wasn’t paying attention that day and leaned into my desk a bit too much.
The next day I could still tell my liver wasn’t happy, but now I also felt a bit queasy. Still figuring it was nothing big, I paid special attention not to put any pressure on my right side and just be careful of what I did. That night, a curious thing happened. I turned into a menopausal woman. I began getting hot randomly and woke up with my belly covered in sweat. The rest of me was not sweaty, but my blanket was soaked at my belly. That silly liver of mine was really not happy with me!
I had a low grade fever of 99.4, and didn’t think too much about it. I went to work, ate normal, was careful of my liver, and overall felt good. Over the weekend, I began having pain in my side as well. The night sweats weren’t severe, but I was definitely more sweaty than normal. I consulted my good friend Dr. Google again, and while leukemia came up in the search, I didn’t think I had many of the symptoms, because aside from some discomfort and sweating, I felt perfectly fine. Dr. Google thought I might have Gallbladder issues, a kidney stone or diabetes. Knowing my lifestyle, I was leaning towards diabetes so I was preparing myself for a bit of a lifestyle change.
Monday was a normal day overall, but that night my temp was 100.4. Tuesday seemed a bit worse, and I was glad I had my appointment that afternoon. Dr. Kons and I chit chatted about Cerner (Cerner is the computer system I support at the hospital and it is the same one he uses for his practice) and I told him about my symptoms. He had a urine dip done, which showed blood in my urine, so he thought I might have a kidney stone (as originally diagnosed by my good friend Dr. Google). He ordered a CBC with Diff and a CMP, just to be sure those came back normal. If they did, I would have a CT per the kidney stone protocol so we could figure out next steps. He would call me in the morning.
Wednesday morning came and went without a call. Then in the mid afternoon Dr. Kons called with my results. He was very professional and to the point, “We have some things we need to get on top of and get checked out right away. Your liver enzymes are up, which is concerning, but more concerning is your blood results. You have blasts in your blood, which is a type of cell that shouldn’t be there. I want to move quickly on this, so my nurse will be calling you soon. I need to get you in for a CAT scan today. My nurse will call you shortly.” There I sat, not quite sure what just happened to my kidney stone diagnosis and Dr. Google’s sage advice about stones and diabetes. Dr. Google advised me on what exactly “blasts” were, and they weren’t a good thing. I had them in my blood and Dr. Google said there shouldn’t be any.
My CT was scheduled quickly, and I had to leave work immediately to make the appointment. My CT was done at Uni (with apologies to marketing,because I guess it is actually called “Indiana University Health University Hospital”) and to keep a long story short I had some labs drawn outside of the hospital as well (thank you Linda). At that point I just knew I had leukemia, even if Dr. Kons couldn’t say it. So now how do I tell Lindsey without her getting too worried until I know for sure…
We had a normal night and put the kids to bed. I struggled to find the right moment, and as Lindsey will tell it I was very calm and non chalant. She was in the dining room, I was laying on the couch.
R: “Dr. Kons called today with my results, I had to get a CT”,
L: “What did he say, is it not a kidney stone?”,
R: “Well my liver enzymes are high and my blood work is abnormal, so he wanted to get a CT”,
L: “Did he say what he thinks it could be?”,
R: “He wants to rule out Leukemia and Lymphoma”
L: “Did he say that, or is that what you found on Google (she knows me too well)”,
R: “He said it”,
L: “Are you worried?”
R: “Not really. If it’s leukemia, it’s very treatable and we’ll get through it.”
As Lindsey would tell it, at this point she was a little worried, but since I made it sound so benign, she was ok. Mission accomplished.
With my knowlege that I was most likely spending my last night at home for awhile, I picked up each of my kids as they slept and say goodbye. I told the girls that daddy will be there to walk them down the aisle and I told Tucker that I’d be there with him to play catch and see him grow into a man. I laid each one of them down and enjoyed just watching them sleep.
The next morning I went to work as normal and waited for Dr. Kons to call. A few people knew I thought I had a kidney stone, but I didn’t tell anyone about the additional possibilities. At around 9:30am I recieved a call from Dr. Kons nurse that he wanted to be proactive and admit me. She would be in touch with me as soon as a bed was ready at Methodist, which may be 30 minutes or a couple of hours. Dr. Kons was waiting on one final result, but the CT showed an enlarged spleen and he wanted to be ready to get a bone marrow sample right away. I went and told my boss Annette a quick synopsis of the situation, and as always, she was very supportive. She let me go home to prepare and to be with Lindsey. On the way home I called Lindsey to tell her the full results. I had her at bone marrow aspiration. With those words she knew.
I arrived home and hugged Lindsey. She was finishing up a few things that she had started, and I began to pack a bag. We waited until the phone call eventually came. A bed was ready for me at Methodist hospital and my fight with leukemia was about to begin. We arrived at Methodist, settled into my room, and met my original hematologist. She did the bone marrow aspiration the afternoon of December 5th and I began my Caring Bridge site that very night that very night.
From Home to the Hospital: An Epilogue
I should take a moment to point out that Lindsey was supposed to be working the day I was admitted. She was called off due to low patient volume, so she was unexpectedly at home for the day. Also, since she was supposed to be working, the kids were with our sitter. Although getting admitted was in no one’s plan for the day, God did it in the exact way that allowed for Lindsey to be off work so we could go to the hospital together with the kids already safely taken care of at the sitter. Thank you God.