Part 5: Bad Blood, Bad Heart

I remember getting the results of one particular culture very well. Chemo had tainted my tastebuds, so I wasn’t very motivated to eat considering lots of things tasted like what I assume cardboard would. But when I got the hankerin’ for something, more often than not it would be brought to me by marvelous souls who tended to my almost-every wish (I guess I wasn’t worth smuggling in my cats đŸ˜‰ ). In this particular case, I wanted more than anything to chow down on a Las Vegas roll from Biwako. The idea of the bastardized deep-fried roll had my mouth watering, and I could hardly wait to inhale its sweet deliciousness. When it arrived, I did just that– I’m pretty sure I tasted less than I would have even with functioning tastebuds, since it hardly had time to touch my tongue before it was down my throat, taking the roller-coaster ride to my belly. As I was pigging out, a nurse came in and broke the news as to the results of the cultures. Turned out I had a blood infection (which would be identified as enterococcal septicemia) and that it was detected from the blood drawn from my PICC line, which meant that I would have to have it pulled… My second PICC in less than two months that was fucked up. Great! I remember the hunger melting away as a sick feeling crashed over me in a giant wave. I got cold as dread took over. Not exactly because my line would have to go, but more so because I knew that without it I would need IVs and would require peripheral blood draws. Cultures would continue to be drawn every day until my blood was free from infection for three straight days. This process would take about a week. Never did I think I would want so badly to have yet ANOTHER PICC placed, but over the following days I could hardly wait until it was time for the third (and– spoiler alert– final one) put in. My already shitty hospital sleep was hindered even more by the dread that lived within me between the hours of about 9pm to 5am. I knew that if I managed to fall asleep I’d be woken up by the “vampires” and I’d have to be poked. So, of course, in my always-anxious state I pretty much banished the already scarce sleep and replaced it with hours of worry. Definitely not proud to admit that, and even still I am a huge baby when it comes to needles. But this specific time of my life perhaps solidified it. It got to the point where I was poked so many times that my stupid veins gave a big “fuck you” to the phlebotomists and became even more difficult to find than usual. Not only that, but there were a few days where they couldn’t draw any blood from me. At this point, I had blood clots in both arms from both of the failed PICCs, so they could only drawn from my hands and no higher, which really limited their ability to get anything from an already pretty limited source. After what felt like forever my cultures finally came back clear, and I was scheduled for my next PICC placement. That bad boy would last me until I was discharged, and it would be removed not because something was wrong, but because everything was right, and it was time for it to go. But we have quite a while before that time…

I have always enjoyed singing. I’m not particularly good, but I don’t intend to make a living off of it, so I’m not too worried. One night I was listening to some music and singing my heart out, when a tech came in to take my vitals. My heart rate was in the 120’s which was quite a bit higher than it should have been. I attributed it to the fact that I was singing a lot, hoping to make it not that big of a deal. However over the next few days it continued to be elevated. I was sent to receive an ECHO, and the results told us I had cardiomyopathy, and my EF was functioning at only 14%, when a normal healthy heart functions typically between 50-65%. Since I was now experiencing heart failure, I again left the relative comfort of 8A and was moved down to 7, the cardiac unit. For quite a while I was on oxygen (as I had been on and off during my stay) and always hooked up to an EKG. When we would walk around in the halls, there were monitors by the nursing station that showed all the patient’s heart rates. For the first 3-4 days of my 7 day stay mine was almost always the highest, at about 120-130bpm.

This is where the major backstory sort of ends. After 7 days in the cardiac unit, I was discharged after two months in the hospital. The first major leg of this medical adventure was over, but in the not-so-distant future there loomed the next phase– transplant. Because the AML I was diagnosed with was determined to be in the “intermediate” range (it had a higher chance of recurring later) a bone marrow transplant was in the cards for me since the start of the whole cancer-roller coaster. The Cancer Coaster– ride at your own risk. Hah! Ugh Cedar Point should hire me…

Anyhow, as I continue to post updates now they will be from the newborn Katie (as of today, I am eight days old!) since I have received my BMT. Not out of the woods yet, but every day is a step closer to returning to normalcy!

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