Day +13: Free at last!

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!

I’m back at home!

While I’m very thankful for my treatment, the HSC, and the staff of D6 who took such excellent care of me for 21 days I am glad to be “free” and back at home. And, truly thankful to God Almighty for my healing.

For a couple of days I have been thinking of using the last lines from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. I’d never read the entire speech before today. And while I hope that civilization has made some progress in the last 57 years it’s clear that we have a long ways to go yet.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Day +11: Things are looking up!

There are a couple of things looking up today!

First, this is the best I’ve felt since treatments started at HSC. I still tire quite easily with any physical exertion but other that that the body is feeling very good.

The next thing that is “up” are the numbers. Results from this mornings blood work show that the white blood cell (WBC) count has taken a big jump. From 0.6 to 4.0 which is quite close to the pre-treatment value

Also, platelets (12 -> 17) and hemoglobin (71 -> 74) are starting their upward trend as well.

The other big “looking up” thing for the day is that my tentative discharge date is set for Tuesday June 30th at noon! Super pumped to be going home!

About noon today we met with my primary Stem Cell Transplant oncologist who gave us the good news and answered all our questions about going home and any restrictions etc.

Of course, first on the list was going to the lake which he approved of as long as I don’t roll around in the dirt (blastomycosis) or go bush wacking. He recommended hanging around the city for a week to ten days to get used to being out of the hospital and acclimatized to more physical activity.

Seeing friends and family, also a yes with the current COVID guidelines.

Travel, also yes in about 3 months. We’re planning a road trip to Vancouver Island in the fall, so that works out perfectly.

Biking, also yes, starting with going around the block first and working up to longer rides as my fitness allows.

Pretty exciting day for Shirley & I. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support on the journey, especially over the last 3 weeks. Love all of you!

Day +9: Upbeat and Optimistic

Another very positive day in the way I’m feeling. It’s starting to feel like the difficult part of this journey is coming to an end. Discharge day is now in sight !

Of course the day wouldn’t be complete without something new happening and today that was a transfusion of whole blood. Hemoglobin dropped from 71 yesterday to 64 today and that crossed some threshold that says “Hey! you need blood!”.

Again a no problem procedure with no negative reactions. Being a blood donor for many years it’s interesting to be on the receiving end this time. If you can, please consider donating, you will be saving a life.

Hospital food is getting harder and harder to handle. I think the treatments have made me quite sensitive to some smells and tastes. So, things that used to be sort of OK are now yuck. Thankfully, Shirley delivered another great lunch of homemade chicken noodle soup and a salmon salad sandwich which were awesome.

Home cooking is the best!

Great visit with Shirley in the morning and Pastor Ernest in the afternoon. Also, a good discussion with the Doctor who answered all my questions about the test results and why some of my vital signs are what they are right now. Short answer is that it’s all normal stuff to be expected at this stage in the process and the blood work numbers should start to rebound in the next couple of days. The hair will take longer. 😉

Day +8: Is it hot in here?

So yesterday was a pretty down day. Super tired, no energy, stomach didnt feel good at all. I didnt leave the room .

Through the day and into the evening my temperature was creeping up through 37*C to 38.4*C. Well, at over 38*C they get moderately excited and a new protocol kicks in.

The issue is that I may have an infection that is causing the temperature or maybe its just up because of the treatments. I’ m told this is quite typical for my stage in the process.

First up is blood cultures. Samples are taken from three location, the PICC line, the port and a vein in my right arm. The theory is that the multiple samples for the same test might pin down the primary location of the possible infection.

Next is a stronger IV antibiotic every 8 hours. Interestingly enough they will rotate the entry point between PICC lumens 1 & 2 (two different tubes) and the port.

The third action is urinalysis to again look for any infection issues.

Fourth is a chest x-ray, looking to see if there is any issues brewing there like possible pneumonia and who knows what all else.

The chest X-ray is actually a bit of a welcome adventure. This is the fist time Ive left the ward in 15 days. Its short lived. A quick wheelchair ride down to the 1st floor in a different building, 3 quick X-rays, and Im whisked back to my room.

But wait, there is more!

My platelet count hit 1 today, another trigger point, and I get a transfusion of platelets. First time on the receiving end of blood products. Ive been a long time blood donor with over 50 donations and Im so glad there is a system like Canadian Blood Service available to us when we need it. As they say, Its in you to give.

Overall Im feeling much better today than yesterday, Im pretty sure its the homemade chicken noodle soup that Shirley cooked up at the crack of dawn for my lunch today that made all the difference.

Day +7: Hair Today, gone tomorrow.

My New Look

Somehow I thought might dodge the bullet, not so. Hair was coming out in clumps this morning, so a close trim was in order.

I think I’m in the “exciting” part for a couple of days. Super tired, not interested in eating and running a fever.

A new treatment medication begins today, my old friend Filgrastim (Grastofil). This will help my white blood cells recover faster, help the stem cells integrate into my bone marrow and specifically accelerate neutrophil ( a specific type of white blood cell) recovery.

Day +5: Just another day in paradise

Compared to many peoples situation, even a restricted 21+ day stay in a Canadian hospital is “just another day in paradise”. I have nothing to complain about. The medical care is excellent, the staff are caring and compassionate, and even my hospital room is pretty expansive compared to the living conditions of many. I have three solid meals a day. Staff maintain and clean my room. And, many times a day I hear “Is there anything I can do for you? Anything I can get for you?” Blessed.

However, it is quite a switch from my normal life and there are things that I won’t miss all that much when I’m discharged.

  • Peeing in a bottle every 2 hrs
  • Being tethered to an IV pole
  • Needing help changing my shirt, because I’m tethered to an IV pole
  • Getting my temperature taken at 2am.
  • Hospital food – Seriously, they try hard but compared to Shirley?
  • People winging in and out of your room while you’re in the bathroom or sleeping
  • Rigid meal schedule – 8am, noon, 5pm
  • Not leaving the ward, let alone going outside

I try not to think about these things too much.

I’ve never wanted to go to prison. Several years ago we visited Alcatraz and after standing in a cell and being able to touch both walls at the same time, I again knew I never wanted to go to prison. Being restricted to a limited space for an extended period of time is quite an experience and I think it changes you. I’m not sure how anyone who goes to prison, in conditions far more difficult and disruptive than my hospital stay, manages to handle the emotional and psychological impacts of their confinement.

Thankful for my healing and glad to be here.

p.s. I continue to do well and today was a typical recovery day with no surprises.

Day +4: Father’s Day

Father’s Day Gifts from the Family.

So many people helped make this Father’s Day a special time for me. I received some very thoughtful and heart felt gifts from the family along with encouraging messages that blessed me. Also, throughout the day I received calls and texts from many people wishing me a Happy Father’s day, again blessed by thoughtful friends.

Hospital food can be quite something. Sometimes pretty “OK”, other times not so much. Thankfully, today, once again, a chef angel (Shirley) arrived with a complete lunch! One of my favourites and certainly something that’s not on the hospital menu, Chicken Caesar salad and a chocolate dessert!

As you can probably guess my appetite has not been negatively effected. 🙂 I’m still tied to an IV pole for hydration 24×7, which is helping to stabilize my blood pressure (low) to some level which doesn’t have me dizzy when I stand up. Blood count numbers continue to drop as expected and should turn around in a couple of days. Overall, feeling good. One or two naps are figuring more prominently into my day, but that’s good too.

Wishing all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day!

Day +3: The Pressure

Well, by 4:30am I can tell the the blood pressure (BP) is not what it should be as I’m a little shaky heading to the washroom. Sure enough with the 6am check its officially low again and I’m hooked to the IV once more. Seems like I’ll be pole dancing for several days now to keep the hydration up.

Shirley is back today! Hurrah! Complete with Starbucks, homemade lunch and re-supplies of all kinds of stuff. She got asked if she was moving in. 😉

We chat, play gin rummy, where I mostly lose, and have lunch together. During the morning the hospital decides I should get some additional blood culturing done to rule out any infection issues that might be causing the BP issue. Four samples are collected, two from a vein in my arm and another two (duplicate test) from the PICC line. My lab expert (Shirley) says it will be a couple of days before results are available. My temperature is fine and infection is unlikely, but good to be cautious.

More naps are in order for the afternoon.

Day +2: Memories

I’ve been thinking about my dad over the last couple of days, because of this.

Williams Lectric Shave

Guys seem to be either an electric razor guy or a blade guy. My dad was an electric razor guy all the way. Me, I’ve tried them on and off but settled on the blade for many years now. However, with the treatment, they recommend using an electric razor (or growing a beard ) as opposed to a blade to minimize the chance of getting a cut. A cut might pose two problems, one being bleeding due to low platlets etc. , and the other is a source of infection, to be avoided for sure at this point.

Turns out dry shaving with an electric razor is not optimum. Enter William’s Lectric Shave, the stuff my dad always used. I can still remember the smell. Fond memories for sure.

Today, I was pretty tired. Blood pressure has been low all day which leads to some dizziness when I get up at times. At around 10pm I’m re-connected to the IV pump to get a rapid infusion of saline solution. Within 1/2 hr I’m feeling a lot more energetic and the blood pressure is now textbook perfect.