Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I wake up in the guestroom upstairs, still in unbelievable pain. I look down at my legs and realize they are swollen beyond recognition. I am unable to walk. I have gained more than sixty pounds literally overnight. Later we learn that the tumor has blocked my blood flow and I have DVTs down both legs. My dad helps me downstairs, because Ryan has already had to leave for work. We will soon need all the money we can get. My parents take me to the emergency room at St. Joe’s in Howell. My blood pressure is extremely low, and I am rushed to the bed, two nurses strip me and hook me up to heart monitors. It is my first experience having strangers see me naked. A cancer patient has no privacy. Eventually, doctors examine places on my body I have never even seen with teams of residents bending over to watch. Eventually, it won’t even bother me. This time I am scared, incredibly embarrassed, and extremely overwhelmed.

I receive pain meds, IV fluids and tell my medical history for the first time. Before I get to sleep that night I will have told it more than twenty times. Even though I am in a great deal of pain, I am able to get the dates and details right over and over. My dad later tells me how impressed he was by that.

It is decided that I will still receive my scheduled MRI to see if the cancer had spread anywhere in my body. I don’t remember a lot of the process. I remember how badly it hurt to be positioned flat on my back, having a towel placed over my face, finishing the scan and then waiting for the results. Months later I run into the MRI technician at Heart of the Shepherd in Howell. She approaches me, tells me that she remembers me, that she was scared for me and has prayed for me for a long time.

We wait and wait, I am not used to how long everything takes in the hospital and I am stressed and impatient. Dr. Welsh comes in and says there is no evidence of metastasis. It is our first glimmer of hope! However, the tumor is huge and extends into my renal vein and inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the human body. I need to be transferred to a larger hospital. We choose U of M.

Dr. Welsh is concerned about the amount of time we will be kept waiting in the emergency room at U of M. She advises me to act like I am in even more distress than I am. She tells me to cry. It is our first hint about how to manipulate the system. We thank her for her advice. She says not to thank her, just come back and see her when I am healthy. Dr. Welsh tells us a story about a little girl who she had as a patient who came back to visit her on Halloween, in her costume. In the spring of 2009, I get my chance. Ryan’s grandma has suffered a mini-stroke, and we have gone into St. Joe’s to see her. Ryan spots Dr. Welsh in the hall and we go over to say hello.

At the time Dr. Welsh makes her request, my future is so uncertain that I make a vague promise to her and continue to worry about my first ambulance ride. Ryan arrives at the hospital just in time to board the ambulance with me, and we head over to Ann Arbor, where I will stay for a very long time. In the emergency room at U of M, we learn that U of M only likes to rely on scans from their hospital, and everything I have experienced is repeated. Eventually, I am admitted.

No comments:

Post a Comment