Nowhere to Go But Up

Whew, talk about some low numbers.  They said about now would be my low point, and they were right.

We’re All In This Together
I’ve always marveled how things strangers have in common instantly bond them.  Perhaps it’s two people who discover they went to the same school.  Perhaps it’s two strangers cheering for the same sports team who end up sharing a beer.  For me, it has usually been faith that creates an instant connection with someone I have never met.  I can now add cancer to this as well.  It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have/had cancer we’re bonded for life.
Yesterday I was waiting to get my blood drawn.  A lady walked up and said “Can you please listen for my name, I’m going to grab some coffee.  I’m Jane.”  I said of course, and then instantly felt a bond with Jane.  I had no idea who she was or where she was from, but I imagine we were in that clinic because of a similar diagnosis.  Why yes Jane, I will listen for your name and do the best damn job listening for a name I have ever done.  The fact that you are here waiting for an appointment means you deserve no less.  I’ll probably never see Jane again, but she and I are both fighting cancer, and we’re all in this together.
I Smell Blood in The Morning
To me that title sounds like a great action flick.  Perhaps back in the day Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis would have starred in this action packed feature with guns and mayhem.  It’s no action flick though. It’s a story about a guy with leukemia who has low platelet counts.  He’s always had bloody noses in the winter, but now with low platelets he tends to smell blood in the morning.  Thankfully it hasn’t resulted in many bloody noses but it is a little weird to wake up smelling blood.  Maybe this is how coke addicts feel in the morning too.  Perhaps I could use “I smell blood in the morning” as the title of this book I’m supposed to be writing.  That title would look really good in the inspirational section.
Who the Hell Was That
I’m assuming I don’t have any young readers here who will go ask mom and dad what “hell” means.  I know for a fact I’ve heard the word in church, so it can’t be all that bad.  But that has nothing to do with this topic.
I’m getting use to my cancer body.  It’s not necessarily a top model body, but then again it never was.  When I see myself in my bathroom mirror, it’s no longer a surprise.  Sometimes I’d wrinkle my nose or stick my tongue out just to see the guy in front of me do the same thing.  Yep, that’s me.  It’s a little weird to see a half shaved chest, a scar, and bruising where my port is, but I’m getting used to that too.
Being out and about is a different story though.  I’ve gone to a few stores and literally stared at a guy down the aisle only to realize it’s a mirror and that guy is me.  Then I’ll dothe same thing in a different part of the same store.  Who the hell was that bald guy and why is he following me?
$0.99 Menu
I was a bit surprised because IU Health always seems to take their own sweet time in sending an inaccurate bill to us.  However this time I believe we received an accurate bill and it was within a few weeks of my discharge.  The good news is that my total care only cost $0.99. The bad news is that you have to move the decimal 5 places to the right to get the actual bill.  Really, I think $99,000 is a bargain for 3.5 weeks in the hospital.  Never you fear though, that’s the list prices and inevitably we’ll get a statement from our insurance with what is actually being paid.  Thankfully I have a decent out of pocket maximum for 2012.
And the Powerball is…
Thursday was lab draw day.  It was also lay down in the afternoon because I was so exhausted day.  The numbers will tell you why.
WBC – 0.2
Hemoglobin – 6.9
Platelets – 12
ANC – Gone Fishin’
All those numbers are as low as they were at one point in the hospital.  I was definitely tired yesterday, but was still able to function.  Today I got a transfusion.
Make That Two Donors I Don’t Like
Today I went to University Hospital at Indiana University Health to receive 2 units of blood and some platelets.  They couldn’t give me the blood until some testing was done, so we started with the platelets.  I informed the nurse that I had reacted before so she gave me my typical pre-meds of Tylenol and benadryl.  Usually the benadryl is pill form, but this time she gave me 25mg IV push.  The platelets went in without incident, and I didn’t have any itching (that was how I reacted before).  Considering the transfusion a success, I went back to working on my iPad.
A few minutes later I noticed some red dots on my hand.  They didn’t itch.  I’ve been having issues with dry skin and reacting to soap, so I sat there an wondered if something in the hospital soap had made them flair up.  It was then that I noticed the dots on my arm too.  It seems a few more appeared before my very eyes.  I called the nurse over and she pushed another 25mg of benadryl.  We waited and we watched.
It was quite the interesting thing to see.  The little red dots popped up more and more.  All up and down my arm and all over my chest.  The dots would pop up, they’d puff up, and then they’d close ranks so all you could see is red puffy skin.  Throughout the whole thing it never itched, it just looked bad.  They gave up on the benadryl and pushed some hydrocortisone.  Thankfully that worked, because if it hadn’t the next step was to have a doc come evaluate me.  Slowly but surely the puffy red went away and my supple silky skin returned.
So now that I’ve had yet another reaction to platelets, the nurse advised that they’ll just pre-med me with an IV steroid next time.  Hopefully that works for the long haul.  The packed red blood cells went in with no issue.
Don’t Feed the Rob
A very great man and boss passed away last Sunday.  Today was the ceremony to celebrate his life. I  was worried I wasn’t going to make it.  First because I thought I’d be too tired, but also because the transfusion wouldn’t finish in time.  Thankfully my new PRBC’s gave me an energy boost and I was able to make it to the church for the reception.
Everyone there was someone I work with and most were people I hadn’t seen in 2 months.  It was great to see everyone!  Everyone knew they couldn’t hug me or get too close to me.  After awhile, it felt like I was an animal on exhibit at the zoo.  Not like one of those jungle cat displays where there is a tall wall or big pit.  More like one of those indoor displays where there is just a railing and you can almost reach out and touch the animal.  There was a wall of people in front of me, and a very defined separation between us.  It was like there was an imaginary railing right there that they all leaned up against to get a good look at the bald animal with the surgical mask on.  I even joked that there would be an imaginary sign that said “Don’t feed the Rob.”  It was good to see everyone and celebrate the life of Tim.  He is terribly missed.
A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Father God I am in your arms tonight.  Like a little boy being carried by his Father, you carry me.  You lift me up when I am week.  You lay me down to rest and watch over me.  You hold me close and keep me safe.  With you O God for me, I do not fear this disease that tries to be against me.  Your Angel Armies are on my side, and I close my eyes tonight knowing you keep me safe.  Thank you for another day.  Amen.

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