Pat Speer’s leukemia blog

It started with a gasp. A gasp for air on a stretch of sidewalk I’d walked a hundred times without such a gasp. This gasp then led to a second gasp on a walk around an old movie ranch named corriganville. Something was definitely wrong. I had either fallen really out of shape in the COVID winter or I was sick in some way.
I thought it might be anemia. I tried iron pills. Black poop, but no increase in stamina. I continued to get more and more winded. Finally my wife said we’re going to urgent care. We sat in a parking lot for two hours while they prepared and performed a COVID test. Negative, of course. I didn’t even have a fever. They then let me inside. The doctor listened to my lungs, and said I had an upper respiratory infection. She said I should take some DayQuil and NyQuil and I’ll be fine. I tried to point out that I was getting winded weeks before I’d developed my recent cough but she said that’s the way it is sometimes. Oh well.
A few days later I arranged a zoom session with my family physician. He said it sounded like a heart condition to him and referred me to a cardiologist. The earliest this cardiologist would see me, of course, was ten days. 
After two days, I’d had enough. I was now getting winded when walking to the bathroom. My wife took me to a local hospital emergency room, where I was required to sit outside until they could perform their own COVID test. After an hour or so, a nurse came outside and took me to a trailer and withdrew 11 vials of blood. Maybe an hour after that they brought me into the emergency room and told me the news. I was anemic, with 4.4 hemoglobin compared to the usual 13.5. The trick now was to determine the cause. A female doctor came behind the curtain and put a gloved thumb up my butt and quickly reported back that I did not have internal bleeding from the lower tract. Another doctor came in and started talking about bone marrow. When I asked him if he thought I had leukemia, his face went white and said it was too early to think about such things. He then came back about an hour later and said he’d run a preliminary test for leukemia and that it was negative. The thinking then became that I had an upper gi leak and that they would test for that the next day.
In the meantime I was given my own room and a steady stream of fresh blood and platelets.
That night was pretty much hell. Moans and groans from down the hall when added to my own dark thoughts led me to feel that this was it. In my exhaustion I had visitors from beyond who told me it would all be okay.
The next day was largely a holding pattern for the upper gi inspection, for which I had to go liquid and food free for 17 hours. When I came out from the tranqs I could tell something was wrong. The doctor said I did fine which told me he didn’t find what he was looking for. Now here’s the weird part. I’m fairly certain he said I was gonna be released and that he would arrange for a colonoscopy in three days.
It wasn’t but an hour after that, however, that another doctor, the one who’d told me not to worry about leukemia, called my room to tell me that he was having me sent to a hospital that specializes in leukemia.
That night was even more horrifying than the night before. I tried to sleep but to no avail. Finally, around 11, an ambulance showed up to transport me to the specialty hospital. It was an hour drive or so, with me bouncing off the stretcher over and over again only to be saved by my own outstretched leg. I finally reached my destination. My own room. A shut door. Quiet.
But the fun was just beginning...

The next day my cough took a turn for the worse, and I started coughing stuff up. I believe it was also o on this day that they dug some bone out from my hip and confirmed the worst—that I had aml. Leukemia. In the meantime the number of transfusions and blood samples had led my arms to resemble pin cushions.
And then things got worse. One nurse failed to properly tie off my left elbow after the removal of a tube and I woke up in a puddle of blood stretching from my shoulder to my waist. And then another tied off a blood draw just below my left wrist bone, thereby crushing and tearing the tendons below. Now no one wants to believe this but it’s true. I’d injured the wrist roughly 10 years before by sleeping with my head on the wrist. And I’d lost the use of my hand for months and months. Now here I am again with but one good hand.
I think it was around this time that someone came to my room with a portable machine that scanned my lungs. I then had a visit from a doctor who felt certain my illness was not random and that I’d been exposed to a toxic chemical. I later came to believe he was right as I worked seven years in a building which had supposedly been cleaned up, but apparently was not.
I then started coughing up blood within the stuff I was coughing up. Someone explained I had pneumonia on top of my leukemia. They then gave me a drug to reduce the fluid in my lungs. This made me pee every five minutes for three hours, so I got used to using a cheap plastic hand held urinal. (This, then, became my constant companion, as I was given this drug for 8 of the next 9 days.) in any event, with the first pee after receiving this drug I got a not so nice surprise—a cough attack and a squirt of blood from my penis that will be hard to erase from my memory. 
I think it was later that day that a procedure was performed on my lungs, to clean some of the crap out. I woke up from this procedure in a paranoid state. Serious tranqs. Lots of authorized personnel only signs. The sounds of someone repeating whatever they were told. This pathetic person turned out to be me.
When I came down from this delusion, however, I realized something else. I wasn’t gonna die right away. My breathing was far less labored. I might even go home once again.
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