THE ART OF HAPPINESS

I think I failed to mention that when I was first admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with AML, they also found a subdural hemorrhage on the left side of my brain. What the “H-E-double hockey sticks” does that mean? It means I had a bleed in the front, left hand side of my brain. Kinda scary. Before I came to the hospital, I had a weekend where I was really sick and violently vomiting. My doctor thinks that is what caused the bleed. My doctors have been watching me closely. I have been getting regular CT scans and MRI’s of my brain and the results have shown that the bleed stabilized. Yesterday I started getting headaches again and this prompted another CT scan. The scan showed a trace of new blood on the left side of my brain. They watch me very closely because if I have low platelet levels (which means my blood doesn’t clot very well) and I have a bleed, then we have a problem.

Unfortunately, Camp Summerlin (the fond nickname we have here for Summerlin Hospital) doesn’t have a neurosurgeon so I have been transported (yes, in an ambulance but they don’t turn the lights and sirens on) to Valley Hospital. Valley Hospital is an older hospital but there are good doctors here. Camp Summerlin is only 3 minutes from my house. Valley Hospital is probably a good 15-20 minutes away. It just makes it a bit more inconvenient but if they can get the bleed and headaches under control, then its worth seeing the neurosurgeon here. I am told I’ll only be here at Valley for a couple days in the Surgical ICU unit and then I can be transported back to Summerlin. I can get back to everything that I know and am used to.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, you just have to go with the flow. Treatment plans, timing, medications can all change on a daily basis so you have to have an open mind. Its ironic (well not actually ironic because I do believe everything happens for a reason) because I have had a couple lengthy conversations with my GI doc about a book called “Zen: The Art of Happiness” by Chris Prentiss. It is a short book – around 50 pages – and a wonderful read. Its not a foofy, feather-filled book about how to make your life better. It is based on the ancient practice of Zen, modern day illustrations and scientific research that shows how you can truly find happiness for yourself. I highly recommend it because it forces you to look at your life and the Universe in a completely different way than what society has taught us to look at and react to life. I have found the book very comforting during the past week and I have found myself re-reading portions that really speak to me. I was starting to get angry and upset that I was sick and stuck in the hospital. This book gave me a different perspective. I really didn’t want to get this news on my CT scan and I didn’t want to have to come to Valley. But today, I was not upset. I feel positive about what the outcome is going to be and when I will be able to speak with the neurosurgeon.

SIMPLY AN UPDATE

You know you’ve been in the hospital for an extended period of time when Ellen is the highlight of your day.  I may not agree with all of her political beliefs but she cracks me up.

Once again, first time in a few days that I have felt like grabbing this computer. Its one side effect after another – which is all to be expected. First I had stomach issues. That has been resolved. Of course I had to get an ultrasound and CT scan just for the tests to not really show anything. Then yesterday I was receiving a unit of platelets (a daily occurance for me) and as soon the transfusion was over, I got incredibly cold and I was shaking violently. My teeth were chattering and I even bit my tongue. This syndrome is called “rigors”.  It occurs if you happen to have some type of reaction to the transfusion. The platelets I was receiving were A- platelets (we call that type-specific because that is my blood type.) Rigors can just happen for some reason. It lasted for about 10-15 minutes and demerol is a medication that stops the shaking. As soon as they put the medicine in my port, I stopped shaking immediately. It was a very weird experience.

As you know, I’ve mentioned more than once being able to go home for a week after my numbers were high enough. Well, that isn’t happening any time soon. Don’t worry! I’m okay with that! I won’t go into the specific details of it all because it gets quite confusing and boring. But the bottom line is, my doctor feels its best that she hits me with another round of chemo. This chemo will be a bit different cocktail of medications than my first round. (There are many dfferent types of chemo.) My oncologist, Dr. Wareman is up-to-date on the most cutting edge leukemia treatment so I trust her completely in her decisions.

So, the moral of the story is, when you have leukemia (or any type of cancer for that matter) you can’t always predict what its going to do. You just have to go with the flow. Its like having a baby – they don’t always come out when you want them to.