By this point in my experience, the doctor in the emergency room figured out that I needed a blood transfusion, but why did I need it? That was the major question. I hadn’t had any recent surgeries or major injuries where I would have lost a lot a blood.
I answered a series of questions about my health and my family’s. I remember the first day it was really hard to talk. My throat felt raw, and I had very little energy. I remember when I called home, I didn’t have the strength to hold up the hospital phone, so I had to use my cell phone and put it on speaker.
I was grateful for the yucky symptoms that went away overnight, but I still felt terrible. I was given a second bag of blood that day. I don’t remember how much was in the bag, but it was pretty big and would take hours for me to receive it. Something about the process was exhausting and I slept most of the time.
By my second full day in the hospital, I was starting to feel better. I was asked even more questions and more parts of my body were scanned. They thought they might know the source of the blood loss based on a condition that I have. The scan showed the issue wasn’t serious enough where it would have caused that type of blood loss. They also took a lot of my blood, which was ironic for someone in the hospital for a blood transfusion. Some diseases and conditions were ruled out.
What could cause such a dramatic physical decline? On the third day, one very scary possible diagnosis came to the forefront. Leukemia. The doctor assigned to my floor thought that I might have leukemia. I had some symptoms, but more tests needed to be done. I teared up as the doctor told me and she tried to reassure me that medicine was more advanced than it used to be, and most people could survive it now. By the time she and the nurse left, I started sobbing. A possible cancer diagnosis would be terrifying for most people, but even more so for me because I remember my father’s horrible death from cancer. Cancer doesn’t let a person quietly slip away. There’s a great deal of pain and suffering.
I called my mother when I calmed down a little bit. She could tell I was crying, and I told her what the doctor said. She woke my sister up (this was pretty early in the morning on the weekend). I can’t remember the conversation, but I know they tried to comfort me. I hung up with them and took the picture below. I decided if I had to go through something awful, I would at least write about and document it.
More blood was taken that day. Either on this day or the day before, blood was taken twice. Shown are the bruises I still had after I got out of the hospital.
I saw the first of two hematologists, who are also oncologists. One of them is still my doctor, who I see for regular check-ups to make sure I don’t have another decline like the one before.
I was starting to feel better because I was beginning to get restless. I had my phone and one of my Amazon Fire tablets with me. Unfortunately, I recently had to reset it, so I didn’t have any books on there that I hadn’t recently read. I had one fashion game downloaded, so I played that and watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which was the most watchable pick from the limited number of channels.
I had the urge to write then, but unfortunately, I didn’t have a notebook. I used the document feature on my tablet to write. I started the first part of this essay while I was still in the hospital. I didn’t ask for something to write with after a random experience where no one thought it was their job to get me a cup of tea when my throat hurt. I also worried a lot. I didn’t sleep much after the post blood transfusion sleepiness wore off. I would go to sleep around midnight or 1 a.m. and wake up around 5:00. I would take a short nap during the day. It was one thing to be sick, it was quite another to not know why I was sick. Leukemia was ruled out, but nothing was discovered.
I started to think about how differently I wanted my life to be if I would have a chance to recover. I mostly remember wanting to spend more time with my mother and take a trip with her after the pandemic was over. I didn’t realize I only had about 6 more weeks with her.
Coming up is the final part of my hospital journey.
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