You know when you go into a crowded hospital emergency room and they take you first, something must really be wrong.
I call it a systemwide failure. Technically, my blood went whacky.
I'd been out two weeks before I finally decided to go to the hospital. I was weak, so weak I could barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I couldn't hold up a book to read in bed. I just laid there and stared, listening to my own breathing.
It started as fatigue from chemotherapy. I've been getting this chemo for a few months now and the effects can be cumulative. One of the side effects is that it can lower the level of red blood cells in your body, which affects energy levels.
One Sunday I crashed. My reaction -- to just not do anything. My biggest foray would be to go downstairs to the couch to watch TV. I rarely ate anything. I was just too tired to be bothered.
After a week of this, I desperately went into the cancer center to get a blood transfusion. I couldn't drive myself. My brother had to get a wheelchair to wheel me into the infusion center.
The two units of blood seemed to help a bit, for a few days. Then, on Saturday, I starting urinating blood. It didn't stop. Yeah, big sign something was wrong.
I hoped it would go away. But I kept getting weaker and weaker. Finally, on Monday, after spending the morning barely lifting my head, I decided to go to the emergency room.
My brother had to help me down the stairs. I couldn't walk to the car. He got a chair with wheels on it to wheel me through the garage to his car. It was hard to sit up. I had to pause in the car to rest. I remember looking around wondering if I'd see my house again.
As my brother pushed me into the emergency room I looked around at the dozens of people waiting for help. Hunched over in the wheelchair, I explained why I was there and they had me fill out some paperwork. Immediately after the papers were signed, they took me back for an evaluation.
My pulse rate was through the roof. They immediately took me back to a room where I said I couldn't sit anymore and they got me into a bed. Lying down, I felt better. But the medical folks were rushing in and out, which was a bit daunting.
The pulse rate concerned them. They worked to get my heart rate down, giving me medications that didn't work. They then took my blood.
Aha. They found the culprit. I'd been on a blood thinner this whole time I hadn't been eating and it had thinned my blood to dangerous levels -- off the chart, the doctor said, the highest he'd ever seen. My hemoglobin was dangerously low, too.
In other words, my blood was the consistency of water and my heart was killing itself trying to get oxygen to my body.
No wonder I was so tired.
So off to ICU I went. During the next 24 hours or so they gave me about eight or 10 units of blood and plasma, plus medication, plus shots, plus IV bags of things like potassium and magnesium, which I was also low in. I was basically low in everything.
I got a full lube job, all new fluids.
Now some folks might think I'd be concerned about phrases like 'dangerously low' or 'dangerously high.' Me, I was concerned about the phrase 'bed rest only.' In other words, no getting out of bed. And no getting out of bed meant no using the bathroom.
I've been at the other end of a bedpan. I wasn't looking forward to experiencing it firsthand. And my body wasn't either. It didn't work. Not at all. Finally, they brought a rickety potty seat I could use, which was heaven, by the way, but they freaked out because my heart rate would escalate every time I used it.
But after a day that got better. By the third day I left ICU for the regular ward, still getting fluids and shots and pills but not in such dire circumstances. I left the hospital on Friday, still very weak but actually having hope I'd get better.
And I am. I'm back at work, sitting up all day and walking, although still weak at times. I'm eating. Hardly eating for two weeks nearly brought me down. All my life I've tried to lose weight. This wasn't a good way to do it.
The advice from the doctor when I left the hospital -- don't do that again. I've figured that out. I don't want to be first in line at the emergency roo