Saturday, March 8, 2008


It was about noon that a porter came by to transfer me to the ICU. I remember because they had to bring my lunch with me. They didn't really have to bring it, since I didn't eat it, but they did anyway. In fact, i didn't eat lunch or any other meal for the next 5 days or so. My room in the ICU was a lot different than the one from which they had brought me. The ward room had been to seem comfortable, homey. It had a couch, it had closets and cupboards, and a little bedside table with a phone on it. The head of the bed was set against the wall, and there was a curtain you could roll across for privacy, as well as a big door to the room. The ICU room was set up differently. There was no couch, nor were there any closets that I could see. There were cupboards, but they were obviously only for medical supplies. I couldn't see a phone, although I never looked very hard for one. The bed was in the middle of the room, with the head up against a monstrosity of machinery with all sorts of plugs and knobs and readings on it. It was humming as well, and would start beeping when I was hooked up to it. I got a look at it when i was wheeled in, but didn't really look at it again. There was also no curtain to roll around the bed, nor was there a big door for privacy. There was a curtain, but it went over the large glass sliding window that served as the opening to the room, and even when it was rolled closed, there was a little window so the hospital staff could keep an eye on things.

Once safely deposited on the bed, I was connected to the monstrosity behind me. A blood pressure wrap was put on my right arm, and it would automatically take my pressure every hour for the length of my stay on the floor. I was also hooked up to a bunch of little sticky things on my chest that measured my heart rate and heart beat 24 hours a day. I would hear beeping and whirring from behind my head constantly for the next few days.

A nurse was at my side almost immediately, ready with a syringe of morphine and a rundown of the way things were gonna work. I was to be in what they were calling amongst themselves "reverse isolation". i was to be protected from infection, but I could still have visitors. These visitors must sanitize themselves before they came in, however. If for any reason I was to leave the ICU for tests or anything like that, I was to wear a mask. I wasn't to use the washroom. It was shared with the room next to me, and they didn't want to have to sanitize it every time my next-door neighbour used it. There was a little commode rolled in next to my bed with a lid on it, and I was to use that and call the nurse each time I used it. This was fine with me, because with how weak I was feeling, the bathroom looked way too far away to get to anyway, at least without a wheelchair, or a complicated set of pulleys.

I didn't read, or watch much TV, or even converse with my constant companions, Tiffany and my father, during the first few days. I don't remember much of those, so addled was my brain with drugs and whatever else was going on in my body. I remember my father reading to me from Spin magazine at one point, and watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2 on TV with Tiffany at another(there really wasn't anything else to watch). Tiff had managed to somehow weasle herself a little seat thing that she could almost stretch out on, and then somehow managed to talk the nurse into allowing her to spend the night(which was apparently against procedure in the ICU). Fearing for my health, Tiff spent that first night wearing a mask and gloves. She tells me she didn't sleep, and I believe her. Not only did she have the germ-hindering paraphernalia to contend with, but she apparently stayed up all night watching my heart-rate reach bizarre levels while I slept. I, in turn, slept in 15 to 20 minute intervals, waking every so often to check that I was, in fact, in the hospital, or to drag myself with much grunting and difficulty to the commode. When I moved myself the foot and a half off the bed to the little seat with the whole in it, apparently my heart-rate would jump even higher, and this would give Tiff even less reason to sleep. Unfortunately, the anti-biotics I was taking were causing me to need to use that commode several times a night. So, I wasn't happy about having to exert so much energy just to take a crap, Tiff wasn't happy because she was(rightfully) scared, and I'm sure the nurse wasn't too happy about having to clean up the potty every time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Morning: January 19, 2007

Throughout all of this stuff, I was taken for a test or two on my arm(x-ray, I believe) and had some more painkillers. Tiff had given my parents the news about probably having to be in the hospital for a few days, so my dad had offered to hop on a flight the next morning to keep me company for the stay. It was around 3:30am on January 19th by the time they wheeled me out of the ER and brought me to a ward to settle down for the night. I was placed in a private room(or at least a room with no one else in it) with a little couch-like thing that Tiff stretched out on. I have no idea if she slept, but with a head full of morphine and body finally off of a stretcher and into a decent imitation of a real bed, I was able to conk out.

I don't know what time we were awakened at, but it was early. I'm pretty sure it was still dark out when the infectious diseases doctor came in. After my last entry, Tiff assures me that the doctor who came in the morning was a different doctor than the one who spoke with us the night before, but with the amount of doctors I saw in those few days, I remember them as being the same. There's almost no doubt that Tiff's right, of course. Anyway, this doctor confirmed(again) that I had an infection, and that I'd be treated with more anti-biotics, and asked me all those same questions I was asked the night before. He even did the injection move, much to my enjoyment. He didn't really have anything too new or exciting to say.

It wasn't until later that the excitement started. That morning, and the next few days after, are quite a bit of a blur. Things started happening quickly, I had a lot of medication, and a lot of people were in an out of my life quickly. I doubt that after the ID guy left Tiff and I would have gone back to sleep. There was just too much going on. At some point very early, Tiff's dad Ted stopped by for a visit, probably on his way to work. There were a few doctors in and out, nurses of course, and then my own Dad came, I'm assuming mid-morning. He had an overnight bag with him with a few changes of clothes since he was only planning on staying a few days. He'd come right from the airport.

I was in a "regular" hospital ward, where they treat people who have common-enough issues, like, I assume, infections and serious fevers and broken legs, and things like that. At some point, someone decided that whatever I had wasn't "common" at all, and I'd have to be transferred to the ICU. I even had the doctor on call for the ward I was in at the moment tell me that he really wasn't comfortable treating me because he only dealt with "family" medicine. Great to know I was in good hands.

All this time, we were under the impression that I had an infection, I would get treated for it, and I'd be home in a week or less. No one had mentioned anything further than this since the ER doctor mentioned the "L" word as being a possibility. But sometime that morning, someone came in and dropped the bomb. There would be further tests done, but the bloodwork and whatever else they look at to test for these things, pointed to a high likelihood that I had some type of Leukemia. I wish I could make the moment sound more dramatic, but like I said, things were a blur and I don't even remember who gave us the news. I'm sure when I heard the words I looked over at Tiff to guage her reaction, but I don't remember what it was. I was a bit shocked, having previously thought myself invincible, but I got over it pretty fast I think. I knew nothing about Leukemia, and I recall asking the question, "Is that a type of Cancer?" I'm sure we had a lot of questions, but I don't think the doctor who gave the news had many answers. An oncologist would be by to see me later that day, apparently, who would go over everything in detail that I would need to know. After a bit, the room cleared of everyone but me and Tiffany. She came over to the bed, and gave me a big hug. We both shed a few tears, her out of fear for me(I'm assuming) and me out of fear that she was scared. I think I'd kind of already decided that I wasn't going to be scared of anything regarding myself. Some people might call this brave or heroic or something, but it was nothing so noble. It was probably something closer to denial, and I've been living off it for 14 months now.