So this is made of parts of a post I wrote the first night I was in hospital, a time I will remember for the rest of my life. I spent one night in the children’s ward in my home town before being moved first thing in the morning to a specialist centre nearby. (My first ever ride in an ambulance, score!) I have edited as when writing this I was a bit of a mess! Here we go…
The morning was completely normal. After helping out at my church holiday club I made my way over to the doctors surgery for a blood test (requested because I’d been experiencing some random symptoms and wanted to see if they all fitted together).
When we got the call from the hospital just 5 hours later asking us to come in immediately my mum started to panic. A practising nurse with over 20 years of experience, she recognised the warning bells. At this point I was in disbelief. I laughed on the way to the hospital! They had said it would take four days to process the bloods then we should give them a call, so why had this happened on the same day?!
Reluctantly the consultant revealed to mum my haemoglobin (red blood cell) count. Depending on the system each hospital uses it was at a level of 60 or 6.0 when it should be 120-140 (12- 14) in a healthy person. In Haematology (disorders of the blood), my count would be average for a patient at that stage, but to an Intensive Care nurse those numbers were half what they should have been.
Nothing else was discussed until my dad arrived from work and I was hooked up to 2 units of fresh blood!
Trying to get a line in was no fun, my veins were having none of it. It took three attempts and a spurt of blood that left my head spinning! I could tell when I came back from having my cannula’s inserted that something was wrong. My parents were blank, silent. Their expressions of terror and helplessness told me it was bad. I didn’t even have to elaborate I just said “what?” and I doubt I’ll ever forget the next sentence my mum said to me. “The haematologists are pretty certain it is leukaemia”
An image that would adequately denote the effect that one sentence had on me would be one of a car crashing. A sudden, unexpected and unstoppable impact.
Then the questions came flooding in: how? really? what if it is definite? what is a bone marrow biopsy? will I lose my hair? what about college?
My words to one of the doctors from before came back to me then, while she had been attempting to find a vein and apologising for my discomfort I had said “there are people in worse situations than this, I’ll be fine!” I was referring to the hundreds of people in the hospital in serious life threatening conditions- completely oblivious to my future diagnosis.
This is a direct part of the blog from that night that has stayed with me these last two weeks. “What I wouldn’t give to go back home and erase this whole day. To start again and change it all” but in hindsight, after having time to adjust my perspective has changed. My cancer is part of me now and I wouldn’t erase it. This experience will shape me forever and has already inspired me for the future. This may sound unusual but I look forward to the opportunities I will have to help others through my experience. (I will elaborate on this in another entry, stay posted!)
So there is a recap with my feelings from the night. A nurse said to me “try to get a good night’s sleep, you’ve got a big day tomorrow”, as if this was possible! Between crying, thinking, machines beeping and going to the loo I barely slept an hour. I remember very clearly staring up at a red dot on the ceiling all night through my tears and worrying about what was to come.