Do You Know What a Manicotti is?

I had several challenging events happen during the time I was receiving chemotherapy. One event was the result of the effects that chemo has on the blood.  By the third cycle of chemo, the doctors had determined that it was relatively safe for me to go home and continue the treatments in an outpatient fashion.  It was good to get home but there was a lot of adjusting to do.  Wheelchairs, walkers, stairs, back braces, you name it.  One event that was a little unsettling and proof that Melanie is another reason that I’m alive today came when she noticed that I was getting extremely lethargic and pale.  She called the doctor to see if they would test my blood to see if anything was going on with the red blood cells.  They told her I was probably fine and they weren’t planning another blood draw for a week or so.  She was very firm and told them to please put in an order for the lab work, she was bringing me… now.  (Thank God for the Holy Spirit who gave her unction to call.) The doctors relented and got me in.  After taking my blood, I needed a restroom break and that was always an adventure from a wheel chair perspective.  I do want to make it clear that I could walk but my legs were restricted because of the swelling.  The wheelchair was a necessity because I couldn’t walk fast enough to get to a restroom with out having an accident due to the kidney stents.  The wheelchair was truly needed when we went to church because the trip to the bathroom is like a mile from the auditorium. (well it felt like it :-)  When I finally got out of the restroom, a lab tech walked up to Melanie and handed her a post-it note.  The tech said that my doctor wanted to see me on the 8th floor immediately.  We didn’t have an appointment, so what was going on?  When we walked into the consultation room my oncology/hemotology doctor was waiting on me.  That was odd.  He picked up the phone and I heard him say, “We just found them.”  I didn’t even know that we had gotten lost!  Melanie asked, “what was the count?!   His hemoglobin is low isn’t it?!”  He quickly told us that my red blood cell count had dropped to a dangerous level and they needed to admit me into the hospital again to start an infusion of blood. (They call it a blood transfusion.) I was BELOW the red line of danger!  If my memory serves me right, that was a two day stay in the hospital….I received 5 units of blood. THANK YOU MELANIE… I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER!  Believe me, that wasn’t the only time she saved my bacon, there were several other events, to the point that the Mayo Clinic staff called her a “Genius”! (It was really the Holy Spirit giving wisdom that only comes from God!  HE is the great physician!)  After losing so much blood, they began thinking I was bleeding somewhere internally.  Now enters the scopes.  And I do mean “enters”!  The first one went down the throat to check the top side and the other… Well let’s say, I’ve never had the privilege to meet a colonoscopy technician.  It wasn’t the scope that bothered me, it was the 1 gigantic gallon of the nastiest stuff I had to drink before the procedure.  Both tests showed that I was slick as a whistle and to this day they have no idea where all that blood went to.  Another event that I’m still enduring as of this writing happened right before I finished the fourth and final cycle of chemo.  Because of the inactivity of my legs they said I was susceptible to blood clots.  During one of the office check ups they sent me over to get an ultrasound on my legs.  A few minutes after we started the  technician asked me if I was on any blood thinners.  I answered, “no.” (now check this out) the tech started chuckling and said, “Man, you sure oughta be!” I wasn’t laughing, did I miss something because I can laugh with the best of ’em.  But I’m not sure this is supposed to be a subject of humor!  I calmly asked, “what do you see.” He asked, “Do you know what a manicotti is?” I answered, “Yes, a pasta shell stuffed with cheese.” He started chuckling again and said, “Man, that’s what the main artery in your right leg looks like.” If that bit of info wasn’t enough, when he got to the left leg he said, “WOW, I’ve never seen this before.” I figure he was just going to bust out laughing but he got a straight face and told me that usually he sees only one leg with a clot but both of mine were significantly blocked.  He finished the scan and said that he had to get this to the doctor and he’d be back.  After several minutes he said they wanted to see me, you guessed it, we’re off to the 8th floor again and it was after 5pm…the nurse stayed late just to talk with us and get me a prescription.  There, I was introduced to warfarin and another interesting blood thinner named Lovenox.  Lovenox itself probably is a nice little drug but it’s how you have to take it that has been a bummer.  It’s an injection…….. with a NEEDLE….EVERYDAY….in the stomach!  My granddaughter describes it best when she asks, “Papa, are you gonna have to get another shot?…right in the GUT?”  Yep, right in the gut, and it burns like nothing I’ve ever experienced and leaves black and blue bumps! Every night since October 2010. (isn’t that like over 400 shots or something?) People wonder why I swim with my t-shirt on. There are some things that should never be displayed. Another event I’ll tell you about was extremely embarrassing and you might even find it hilarious, but it let me know just how close my brother and I had become through all of this….

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