Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Challenging Week

It's been a wild ride for my new husband and me over the last month. A week before our wedding last month, he came down with what he called the worst cold he had ever had. He started getting sick on Friday and spent all weekend sleeping and coughing and feeling miserable. On Monday morning he went to a walk-in clinic for diagnosis. The doctor there was a little concerned by Tyler's cold symptoms, but he was more concerned about the results of his blood work. He drew another blood sample and sent it to another lab at a nearby hospital for confirmation. The doctor sent Tyler home to wait for that result. When he called back, later in the afternoon, he said the second blood draw had confirmed the initial counts and advised T to go to the Emergency Room.

We checked into the ER about 3pm on a Monday. We were taken back to a room right away, so we were thankful we didn’t have to spend a great deal of time in the waiting room. They took yet another blood draw, so my poor guy had been stuck all over by then. This last confirmed what all of the others had and we started to get scared by what we heard. The average person has white blood cell counts between 4 and 10 thousand per unit. A sick person might have a white blood cell count as high as 20 thousand as their body attempted to fight off the infection. T’s blood count on that day was 132 thousand per unit.

The only thing that causes a white blood cell count that high is leukemia.

The doctors in the ER were really great about keeping us informed about the process. They spent most of the next few hours trying to determine if the leukemia was an Acute or Chronic version. The Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is significantly more dangerous and would mean in hospital treatment for the next month. The blasts in AML happen so fast and are so immature that they have to work immediately to bring down the counts and get the patient into serious treatment. The Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) would likely have been present for years and gradually was causing more and more problems, but wasn’t so dangerous.

After several hours in the ER, they finally made the decision to admit Tyler into the hospital without knowing exactly which kind of leukemia he had. In addition, they had an oncologist coming in to meet with us later that evening. We had been on the phone with our parents and siblings throughout the afternoon, so they started arriving about the time we were moving upstairs to a private room. It was such a great relief to have them there with us – my strength was significantly bolstered having loved ones with us.

When the oncologist met with us, I was very impressed. He was good at explaining more about the disease in common language and what we could expect for treatment. He thought Tyler could be released from the hospital in time to be at our wedding that weekend, but we needed to cancel our honeymoon plans for now. Treatment would entail weekly office visits for a period of time, as they monitor his body’s response to medication.

Tyler was in the hospital until Thursday of that week, but was released with lowered blood counts. He was down to 99 thousand white blood cells by Thursday. There was much to be done on Friday in preparation for the wedding, but he was able to do what needed to be completed. We made a decision not to tell people about his diagnosis until after the wedding. We didn’t want to mar the joy of our wedding with the sad news of a chronic illness. It was sad not to be able to share such an important turning point in our lives with so many dear friends and family, but we appreciate your understanding about our decision.

Our wedding day was filled with joy. Tyler got a little tired during the actual ceremony, but you wouldn’t have known if he didn’t tell you. Once he sat down for a meal at the reception, he recovered his energy pretty quickly. We danced, we talked with friends and family, we enjoyed our day SO MUCH! Thanks to all who contributed to the fun!

More to come later on the ride we’ve taken with this leukemia thing…

Originally posted on Wednesday March 28, 2007 - 06:01pm (PDT)

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