Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You have leukemia . . . .

three words that have forever changed my life. I was truly expecting you have high blood pressure. Meds and a change in lifestyle. Well, I did get that . . . . meds and a change in lifestyle.

I was instructed to go straight to the hospital. I was not to take a detour home first but straight to the hospital. It was hard to comprehend what Dr. Lear had said. Leukemia? No one in our family has had cancer. It obviously is a huge mistake. As I walked to my truck, I wondered if I should tell anyone. What if it WAS a huge mistake? On the other hand . . . what if it wasn't? I didn't want to be alone for this. Who to call? I naturally called my favorite person in the world. Nina. I wasn't sure how to break it to her other than to first start with "Let's not panic and it is probably a mistake but do you think you could meet me at the ER?" Yes, I thought that was a fine way to approach it. Once she agreed to meet me at the ER, I drove out of the parking lot to drive the 3 or so blocks to Covenant Medical Center. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I was struck with the most absurd thought . . . "The house is a mess. I haven't had a chance to clean this week." Too be perfectly honest, I had been given the opportunity to clean the house but most days since the playoffs last year and the Cowboys didn't make it . . . since the peach of a supervisor was allowing the sh*t to roll down hill . . . . since my heart was broken yet again by the same man for the upteenth time . . . . I hadn't much energy to do much . . . . I was blaming the lack of energy on depression and stress.

I got to the hospital and was quickly whisked away to an examining room. Someone in a lab coat calling himself Dr. something or other walks in and asks why I was there. I tell him my story. He responds more bloodwork is required before making that determination. I am somewhat relieved at this point. I have always seen life as you get what you make of it, the glass is always half full, there is a silver lining around every cloud, nothing really bad ever happens to me . . . . so it IS all a mistake.

Nina arrives and I tell her what the Dr. Labcoat said. We agree that must be what it is. So blood is drawn, I am taken away for X-rays and Nina and I proceed to wait it out. At some point the decision is made blood must be taken from an artery and the first technician turns out to be someone who doesn't know what he is doing. Pricks me twice and gets nothing. In case you do not know this, having blood drawn from an artery can only be described as PAINFUL! He finally accepts he is unable to do this and calls someone else in. Thankfully, the second technician was able to get the blood drawn after his first and only prick and again . . . . in case I have left any doubt in your mind . . . . it is PAINFUL! Nina has to leave at 9:30 because of her work schedule. Once she leaves a good looking man in a suit walks in and introduces himself as Dr. Cruz. He proceeds to explain that there are two kinds of leukemia. There is acute leukemia which must be treated aggressively with chemo for four to six weeks and is very serious. Then there is chronic leukemia and he suspects this is what I have but additional tests have to be conducted before knowing for sure. He explains a bone marrow biopsy would help determine this along with some of the lab work being conducted as we speak by Dr. Bland. As he is explaining the treatment for chronic leukemia his phone rings and it is Dr. Bland. As he speaks to her, he smiles at me and nods. I suppose this is good news! Once he terminates that phone call he proceeds to tell me I will be admitted for seven to ten days to treat the chronic leukemia and did I have any questions. My only question after receiving so much information was "so in the morning, after all these tests, we will have a clearer picture?" No he explained, the picture was clear, I had chronic leukemia but it is treatable, people have an 80% remission rate and go on to live 10 to 20 years with treatment. With that he left and I was left with thoughts of all the things I had to get done over the next 10 to 20 years.

As I lay there on the uncomfortable hospital bed contemplating this, my next thought was how to tell Jay. I was not sure he would understand all of this but I thought it best to tell him exactly what was going on. When I called him, my first question to him was did he know what leukemia was. He responded yes, it is what John's mother died of in Terminator II. So I thought he understood and I explained to him this is what I had and I would be in the hospital for the next seven to ten days for treatment. We spoke about changes to our routine for the weekend and he seemed to take it all in stride considering.

I then had sense enough to call Lilly and let her know what was going on. We agreed mom was not to be told yet. I didn't want to call Eva yet because of her condition and also it was late.

I was then transported to Lakeside ICU. I knew that was a bad sign. While the nurses were prepping me for the night, I couldn't help but cry. One of the nurses asked if I was in pain. I answered, no, I just couldn't help but feel sorry for myself. She agreed it was perfectly natural and OK to do so because I had been through a lot that night. Despite all the thoughts running through my head, I finally fell asleep about 1 AM. But before I did I was given 2,000 mg of a pill that was pink and purple and hooked up to an IV. Oh, and more blood was taken. I was also hooked up to a blood pressure cuff and oxygen. I am sure I made quite a sight! :)


  1. Well, the good news is that with 10 to 20 years life expectancy with chronic leukemia, that gives scientists time to find a cure. Even with all you have been thru, you manage to remain upbeat, which is very inspiring to me.

  2. While this is for CLL and not CLM, it's still promising:


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