How does one write about something for which no inspiration comes. I’m sure there are numerous things I missed just in the nick of time. Car accidents. Bladder accidents. Thinking of taking action on something totally absurd, but sanity strikes first. Death.
Ok, I guess I’m supposed to write about that. Yes, I cheated death, probably several times, but the most significant was when Mr. L came knocking at my door two years ago. I was too tired to answer.
I was experiencing what I thought were tension headaches and tight shoulders. Tylenol didn’t help. Lorazapam didn’t help. I wasn’t sleeping and was always tired. Finally, I thought if I went swimming that would help me release the tension and I’d feel better. Just an aside, I had reason to feel tense. Things were not going well at work. I found my self-esteem plummeting. So I went to the community rec center and swam 28 laps. I felt pretty good about that, but was worn out. I laid in the sun for a bit to recover. This seemed extreme even though I hadn’t done laps in eons. When I got home things were no better. I called my former husband and asked if they still had any Flexeril, a muscle relaxer. Yes. I went to get it, came home, took some, and slept for six hours.
When I wasn’t working I laid on the couch just wanting to feel better. At some point I thought maybe I had mononucleosis although I hadn’t kissed anyone in a good long while. I even looked it up online. Fatigue, headache, swollen lymph nodes. That sort of seemed to fit.
About 10 days after my swimming expedition I had trouble climbing stairs without my head pounding a soft cottony thwap, thwap, thwap in my ears. The same stairs only a week before I was okay climbing with a backpack containing my computer and other miscellaneous things a woman would carry in a purse. Journal, book, pen, lip balm, Tylenol, and the like. It felt like my head was going to explode. My gums were also inflamed and I was having trouble getting a new night guard fitted.
By that time, I told my boss in tears that if I knew what this was I’d be ok, but I didn’t. Finally, I took my former husband’s advice and saw a doctor. She suggested I get some labs done, but it wasn’t urgent. Otherwise, nothing except an antibiotic for the lymph nodes. I decided to get a second opinion about my mouth guard. My periodontal dentist said the magic words. “I’m going to give you an antibiotic mouth wash, but I’m concerned about the fatigue.” I scheduled the lab work.
I got worse. So I prepared to go for labs a day early at 7am when they first opened. By 1 pm, my doctor called and said words I never anticipated. “Your white blood cell count is 77,000. Normal is 9000-10,000. We’ve called a hematologist. His office will be calling you with an appointment time in the next couple days.” That call came in 2 hours for the next day.
Mr. Leukemia was the one who was knocking. Fortunately, my former husband went to that first diagnosis meeting with me and stood beside me through the long journey. He calmed me when I needed calming. He visited regularly. He coordinated care after my stem cell transplant. He helped cover my unpaid medical bills–a loan I must pay back.
Mr. Leukemia took me by surprise, but he didn’t beat me. I whooped the bejeebers out of him. I’m now disease-free and am able to do anything I was able to do before. I wasn’t saved by a bell, I was saved by a big-ass hammer and some common sense from my former husband! You see, I tend not to see a doctor unless it’s something quite mysterious.
I was very sick. I learned later I was likely three to five weeks from death. Too close for comfort.
Treatment is a whole other story …