Monday, 13 June 2011

The Emergency Department

If I hadn't been told that an Emergency Department trip is not unusual for a chemo patient I may have been more anxious. So, there I was wrapped up in too many layers of clothing to count, on that cold, cold Thursday night. How did I end up there? Do you really want to know? Well, if I thought the last blog was a little too revealing I reckon this one will top it. Since you have been so generous in your time, in choosing to follow me on this journey (there's that word again) I feel very much obligated to share it all. And, of course, in years to come when I am able to reveal all that happened in 2011 to my children they would want to know all the details. Here goes...

My visit to the hospital was in the making only a couple of days before. I had noticed something. Something that did not belong. Armed with my computer, I conducted my own consultation. I diagnosed my condition. And, you know what happened? I freaked out! That evening I decided to call the Oncology Department and explain my symptoms. Perhaps there was a chance that what I was experiencing was just another embarrassing side effect that I hadn't heard of yet. It wasn't. I was told that it was worth getting to the hospital for. Great... A quick phone call locked in a babysitter and soon the husband and I were on our way to the hospital.

One of the perks, (well there better be something good about having cancer), is that you never have to wait if you report to the Emergency Department. I blushed and explained my condition to a kind lady behind glass, being careful that the crowd behind me couldn't hear. Next thing I knew I was on a bed explaining it all again. The third time I explained my condition I was talking to a doctor. She was young, beautiful and friendly. In fact, every person who I came into contact with was the same. I could very well have been an actor on the set of a television medical drama. Anyway, I am totally delaying the inevitable shame. I was told that I had a Bartholin's cyst. If you must look up what that is go for it, just don't think about me. Better still just take my word for it that you don't want to know.

Absolutely anything medical becomes an emergency when your body is warring against the weapons of cell destruction. I was pumped with three lots of antibiotics, after I waited an hour for my blood results. The first antibiotic was pressure pumped into my vein with a spring loaded contraption (medics feel free to name the item). It was very uncomfortable. I requested that the husband fetch the nurse in case the feeling of my arm being blown up was a normal sensation. It was. Fortunately, the husband had brought along an iPod so I distracted myself by listening to that. After the three minute onslaught, the remaining antibiotics were much more bearable. I listened as the drips fell, By three, in the morning, I had spoken with the surgeon (yes, she was young and beautiful too!) and it was agreed upon that I would need the cyst removed on Tuesday. An operation. General anaesthetic. Perhaps I was too tired to really register all this, maybe my brain was beginning to comprehend all of what was going on, maybe I'm getting a little stronger. Either way, I was ok with that. With a duck-bill mask on my face I was wheeled to a ward.

The duck-bill was for my protection. My blood test had revealed that I was neutropenic, a low white blood cell count. Don't be shocked. It's pretty normal. In fact, it now meant that I was eligible for a needle for each chemo treatment that ensured that it would never happen again. Would you believe that a patient has to be neutropenic before the Government will fund the needle even though it's more than likely to happen? Anyway, it was a needle I had initially dreaded. I desired nothing more than to be in the small percentage who didn't get such a low white blood cell count. Now, having been hospitalised for what is a very minor condition, I was keen to have the needle so as to not have a repeat of this or another medical emergency (if I could help it).

Soon the sun was rising and we were anxiously waiting to hear whether I was in or out. The surgeon said that I would need to go to another hospital where the operation would be conducted. She gave me some antibiotics and a little hope. There was a chance that the cyst would clear on its own and the operation would be unnecessary. I held onto that.

Before I close this post I must mention my second itch. Since the start of my low immune days, I was having a lot of trouble with my head. It was just so itchy. Actually, it wasn't so much that I needed to scratch, I think it was more that I needed to move my hair around. The hair follicles were getting excited, that's for sure. What event was getting them so on edge? I reckon I have an inkling...

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