Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Saga Continues

When we left our heroine, she was in the hospital starting treatment for WG. And now, boys and girls, the story continues.

I was in the hospital for a total of ten days. Friends visited bearing gifts (the best thing I got was a bunch of oranges. They were do delicious, especially when all I had to eat was hospital food), I was asigned a social worker who I was snotty and mean towards, I watched a lot of movies, and I slept a lot. On the ninth day, I was well enough to go home but I was anemic and needed a blood transfusion. Of course, as soon as they told me this, someone came in to take more blood- I thought it was funny.

A blood transfusion is one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had. It looked like black-cherry soda going into my arm and it was painful. The blood was cold so I could actually feel it inside my arm until it warmed up to body tempurature. Internal cold feels like a sharp ache. It's not fun.

Finally I was released. I wasn't allowed to go back to school for another week because my immune system was not up to snuff. I did go in to talk to my teachers one day around the time classes let out. I'll never forget the look on my friends' face when they saw me walking down the hall. It was possibly one of the best moments of my life.

The first week out of the hospital I was still sleeping most of the time. Some days I would only be able to stay awake for about two hours. The second week it was back to school. I had to drop most of my classes (thankfully I was a senior and had finished the classes I needed for graduation) because I couldn't handle being at school all day. Things settled into a routine of classes, pills, doctor apointments, IV treatments and sleep. At least my nose stopped bleeding. I suffered huge weight gain and "moon face" at the hands of prednisone (I hate hate hate that drug!).

Life went on. Eventually the doctor appointments were farther apart and the doses of medication got smaller. The physical affects of the disease dissipated, but the mental and emotional trauma continued. I was 17 fror fuckssake, and this completely disrupted my life. Not only did I nearly die at the age when we're supposed to feel like we're infalible and going to live forever, but my entire life plan was thrown off. I had never considered not going away to college right after high school, but it was suddenly not an option. I watched my life as it should be go on without me while I was stuck at home being sick.


I had to completely re-define myself. I could no longer be the energetic, outgoing, do-everything girl I always was; I would literally crash for days if I tried to do half of what I normally would. I had to learn to pay close attention to how tired I was and what was going on with my body. At 17, I had to suddenly think like a 50 year old (I think that's more or less exactly how my doctor put it).

It has been 5 years since I was diagnosed. It took two years to reach remission physically. Mentally, I only recently really came to terms with everything. I finally feel like I can handle what this means for my life. I have found the balance between hyper-vigilance and negligence. As traumatic and difficult as everything has been, in some ways I'm glad it all happened. The whole ordeal has really shaped who I am today. Of course I wouldn't be unhappy if I never had to worry about it ever again, but my life would be much less rich without it. And it's a comfort to know that I've been through all this shit, and I survived. That kind of strength is bound to come in handy sometime in life, right?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have heard they sometimes use Black-cherry soda. haha

Seriously, I have read that once treated, the disease only recurs in about half the people who had it, and then within the first two years; so since you have been in remission three years things look good for you.

Why can't you go to college? You can do whatever you wish kiddo.

-Rusty

Cassie the Great said...

I am going to college. I just had to put it off for a year which was completely bazaar to me. I had always seen myself taking off right after high school and it really shook my plans when I had to wait. I couldn't have gone that first year because I was still pretty sick.