Days +7 and +8. Platelet and Blood Transfusions. “If You Don’t Fix You, You Can’t Help Them.”

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Day +7 Dizziness

The days here all seem to be running together now, and Day +7 is no different. My numbers for the day continue to drop, and my WBC is still TLTC.  My platelets are 29, so just 9 above needing a transfusion. Hemoglobin is 8.9, so only .9 above a blood transfusion.

When they came in to check my vitals, the laying and sitting vitals went well, but on the standing vitals, all at once I started getting chills, dizzy, and the top of my head started to sweat. Right at the same time, the machine started beeping saying my blood pressure and SpO2 level was dropping and I had to sit down.

It was determined that a mixture of being Neutropenic and dehydrated caused this, so I found my streak of great days coming to an end. I had to be hooked up to an IV and some other combination of needed fluids for the next couple hours. This wasn’t too bad, because during this time my mom dropped in to visit, along with my nephew Nick and sister Laurie. They also brought me a bowl from Chipotle’s, so really the only inconvenience was being stuck in bed. If I wanted to use the bathroom, a nurse would have to be in my room in case I fainted. Falling while low platelet count and neutropenic =not good!

It was great to finally get out of bed later to get my walks in and a 10 min spin. I definitely felt the effects of having my levels get low. Ten minutes on the spinning bike made me sweat a lot more than it should have!

Day +8 Transfusion Day

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Today, I was woken up by my nurse telling me that my numbers had dropped, so I would need to have a platelet transfusion and then also a blood transfusion. This was because my Hemoglobin was low. This news didn’t bother me, because just about everyone that has this procedure ends up with at least one. I would rather deal with it here then when I’m back home. Also, I’m hoping this will give me a little boost, because I’ve been feeling a little more lagged down the last couple of days. From the moment I woke up today, I instantly felt like crap. This was not the normal chemotherapy nausea crap, but something else. Insomnia is back so I was thinking it was from not getting much sleep, but low blood counts make a lot of sense! The feeling of being absolutely drained was upon me.

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Fortunately for me, my mom and Nick showed up again and they were able to keep me company during this boring process. My mom is like me and has trouble looking up blood coming through a line. I could tell the whole thing was making her really uneasy. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t like the thought of it either, and I tried not to look at it too much. The bag of blood wasn’t too bad, but it was the blood on the line disappearing into my arm that bothered me. The idea of somebody else’s blood mixing with mine makes me completely nauseous. If you haven’t learned by now, it’s the mental things that really bother me. I don’t take it near as well as the troopers down the hall. The platelets went really quick, but the blood is a very slow process, and since we had to do two bags, it seemed like it took all day.

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After my mom left, I got a text from a buddy I work with back in Santa Teresa. He had a bunch of pictures of my coworkers having a barbecue for me on all three shifts to help us with some of the expenses of this procedure. This was also done to help with the money I’m losing, because of all the time that I’m taking away from work. I thought this was totally awesome! Of course, the financial part is amazing, but just seeing all the people coming together that have my back is really wonderful. Very few people at work knew I had MS before I announced that would I would be coming to Chicago to have this transplant done. But since they have known, they allowed me to change shifts so I could get more family time in. Agent after agent has donated to our GoFundme account (including a massive effort from Class 807 in California, a class that I trained as their PT instructor at the Academy). Also, they have offered to donate annual leave, because my leave balances have been at 0 since the end of March. I’ve received lots of texts from random people at work just checking in and making sure things are ok. They’ve offered to send agents here to Chicago, just to help my family out while I’m in here. They also said that there would be an agent waiting for me at the airport when I come home. I’ve even had them contact me to pray! It really is amazing how many people come running to help when your down, and from all the places they come running from. This transplant experience hasn’t just boosted my own confidence of what I can do, it has boosted my faith in humanity.

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I was involved in a dangerous incident at work a couple of years ago. I can’t get into the details of it here, but I can say it escalated very quickly. All my backup was too far away to get there by the time the incident had ended, but they were all rushing my way, as quick as they could drive. I was able to get a hold of a buddy on the hill with an infrared camera, and he was able to see the suspect who was armed and dangerous. This was extremely lucky for us because we were in a pitch black field at four in the morning. The agent on the camera may have very well saved my life, and the lives of the police officers with me. I had never met these police officers in my life and they had never met me, but in that quick of an instant, we were all willing to get each others backs and take care of each other. This is one of the real things I am learning. When you need help, people come running. There isn’t an agent at work that I wouldn’t run into the same situation for ,to make sure they go home to their family again. Another quick note, the agent that was on the hill that night with the camera has a dad that has MS. The disease that I am fighting to cure has effected people who have effected me. I want to get past this disease so I can help those people.

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Like the world of competitive sports, the Border Patrol is not a place where you want anyone to know about your weaknesses. You don’t even want your coworkers to know, because you don’t want them doubting whether or not you’re capable of getting their back. I’ve had to take a lot of sick days because of MS, especially the days when I am having sever fatigue or brain fog. The fact that I’ve been able to even keep my sick leave balance at just over 40 hours in itself was a miracle. In all the many stresses that have come from leaving to do this procedure, taking so much time from work and the fear of not being able to take care of my family has loomed the heaviest. I was mentioning this to some of my fellow midnight shift buddies, and their response was something close to this “Hey no, no, stop! Stop talking. Listen. Don’t worry about that stuff, you can’t worry about that stuff. You gotta fix you. You gotta worry about getting better. You can’t stress about that stuff because if you don’t fix you, you can’t help them. We’ll help you take care of them.”

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In thirteen years in, I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I do know now. I felt a lot of guilt, and I felt selfish putting so much time into getting this treatment in Chicago and fixing me. But what they told me that night was exactly right. Maybe we wouldn’t be so financially hit this year, if I didn’t come to Chicago, but there’s no way I would have never made it to retirement without being medically retired first because of this is disease. I want to thank the guys that gave me that pep talk that night. I want to thank all the people who have done so much to get me here and to get me this far. I am grateful for the people who have helped me fill out forms and memos. I want to thank the Welfare and Recreation Department that put on the barbecue and all the people who contributed and donated. Our Welfare and Recreation Department is ridiculous. Those guys work hard to take care of us. Also, I want to thank my union representative that has saved my butt more than once at work, and is constantly giving me updates and making sure stuff is always moving along. There are too many to thank individually, but I’m so grateful to everyone at work for having my back. STN is second to none!

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I have always tried to get along with everyone at work. This usually works out. I try to keep in mind that I want people to have my back. Every once in a while a personality like mine is going to butt heads with another strong-willed personality. It’s just going to happen. Sometimes you get over it, sometimes you just learn to coexist. In our job, there are a lot of strong-willed personalities, believe me. You shouldn’t carry a gun, if you don’t walk around with an attitude that you’re going to win any dangerous situation you’re put in. You shouldn’t do this job, if you don’t believe you’re not gonna win any fight that somebody brings to you. I’m not at all saying you should walk around looking for a fight. You shouldn’t. The hope is that the fight never has to happen. If the fight comes, you will win. That’s the only acceptable answer that should be in everybody’s head. It doesn’t matter whether the fight is a fugitive with a gun, or some disease or sickness. You win!

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One thought on “Days +7 and +8. Platelet and Blood Transfusions. “If You Don’t Fix You, You Can’t Help Them.”

  1. It does boost ones faith in humanity. Good to know that maybe your same coworkers that violated my privacy at the Santa Teresa crossing, are the same ones that helped you out . Hahaha.
    It would totally gross me out to get blood too. In four months all your red blood cells will be new ones and in over a year, all the white ones. Your body makes 2 millions red blood cells per second!

    Like

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