Just when I thought it was safe to get out of bed - I should have taken a second look. The other morning I woke up feeling better than I had in quite some time. However, within minutes of getting up, I was laying on the floor nauseous and exhausted. I lay there a while thinking with a little rest, it would be easier to get up and finish getting dressed for my appointment with my Oncologist.
I did manage to get up, but when I stood up, the nausea turned very quickly to actively throwing up. I did make it to the car, pan in hand. My wife began the drive into Houston's Medical Center. By the time we got into town, my pan was full. By the time we got to the parking garage at MD Anderson, I found I could not get out of the car. My wife retrieved a wheel chair. I struggled out of the car and into the chair.
Having given up my pan, we stopped at the desk for a barf bag. Throwing up into it, I noticed for the first time the "coffee grounds" look of what I was throwing up. I knew what was happening, and I knew it wasn't good. I was throwing up blood.
When we got to the Doctor's office, I could no longer sit up. Instead, I stretched out on a sofa. They called me a minute or two later, but I didn't have the strength to get up, and I could only communicate somewhat incoherently. My wife filled them in on what she knew of what was happening. Shortly after they got me into the Doctor's office, all hell broke loose. I was now throwing up bright red blood and coughing it up as well. It was also coming out of my nose. Someone was asking me if I could stay in the wheelchair long enough to get to the ER. I agreed, I could, but I would have agreed to any thing at that point. All I really wanted to do was lay down to sleep and be left alone.
Before I knew what was happening, I was in the ER being prepared for the insertion of two Arterial
Lines. I'd never had an arterial line inserted while conscious before, but I had helped insert them and I knew they were hellishly painful, but what was I to do. It was either let them establish the lines or die. I was so overwhelmingly tired I might have chosen to die, but no one gave me that choice. I had bled out half of my volume of blood. There really were no choices.
The doctor began to insert the long needle deep into my right wrist and dig around for the artery. Even in my weakened condition, it was all I could do to stay still. The pain was almost unbearable. With the arterial line in my wrist, stitched to my skin to hold in place and patent, they began immediately to infuse blood while a second larger bore arterial line was established in my groin. The pain was intense as the physician struggled to get the line just the way he wanted it and then stitch it to me so it would not move. That done, they began to run more blood into me at a fast clip.
Within a very short time, my body began to change from a very pale white to pink. I was still foggy, but I knew I was going to live. There was no pain from the hemorrhage or the surgery, but my wrist, my groin and my penis ached from the assault of the catheters which had been inserted. My arms looked like I had been in a fight with a couple of cats. There were needle stick marks up and down them from where they had tried to find veins that would tolerate a catheter and, of course, the venous catheters that marked their ultimately successful stick. In another few minutes I was transported to ICU where I was to remain for 4 days without food and without water except for the IV bags which were constantly flowing their contents into my arms. More often than not, ICU patients are not fully conscious. It is a blessing, a blessing I did not have. Believe me, there is no allowance for one's dignity in ICU. Neither is there any time to sleep. Nurses and technicians are in and out in and out. Monitors are sounding their shrill warnings almost constantly. It is impossible to get comfortable with the tubes running in and out of ones body. The slightest movement is likely to cause a tube to crimp, and the monitors began their obnoxious warnings.
After five days, I was released to home with warnings to take things slow and easy. There was no need to warn me. I didn't have the energy to cuss a cat!
I'm feeling better today for the first time, but my energy level is still low. There'll be no family
Thanksgiving for me. My immune system is too low to be around a bunch of people, especially the little kids. But now that I'm getting better, I'm glad they ignored my pleas to leave me alone. Life is not what I wish it were anymore, but there are still so many blessings to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving day and every day.
As a part of taking it easy for a while, I'm not sure when the next pictures will be posted, or the next blog written, but I hope you won't forget me. Check back every few days to see what's new.
I hope you won't just celebrate Thanksgiving watching the Cowboys game. I love football, but there is more to life. Take time to actually name a few of your blessings and be thankful for them. Life is really short, and it hangs on a very thin string.