A Life Changing Experience
As I look back now to my time in the hospital during my stem cell transplant, which has only been about a month ago as of the time of this writing, the feeling that overwhelms me is helplessness. The fact that all I did was lay in my hospital bed and do nothing.
One thing you should know is that treatment for cancer effects everyone differently. We may have similar symptoms but how it effects each person has its levels of difficulty, for me, I felt completely emotionless with no desire, not even to watch television, talk to anyone or even spend time on my phone. It was as if I was in some sort of catatonic state. I look back and I ask myself why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I work more on my own projects? The clear answer was I couldn’t, no matter how much positive thought I could have had, the chemo drugs just had me sick and motionless. It was scary to feel like this. It wasn’t for just a day or two of feeling this way, this state that I was living in lasted for weeks. It was awful.
A Bad Reaction
The worst part of my stay was during the end of my stem cell transplant. I was on my way to being discharged and on that day my body had some sort of reaction. This reaction, which to this day no doctor could explain why it happened, caused my numbers to drop. My blood pressure dropped to 60 over 40 and they called some code over the hospital speaker system and suddenly there were doctors and nurses in the room trying to determine what was going on with me.
I began to feel lightheaded, and the bottom of my bed was raised to be higher than the top of my bed in an effort to bring up my blood pressure. No one was able to say why exactly this was happening. They kept turning to me to see what I was feeling but I was feeling nothing. It was like a quiet peace that was coming over me and it frightened me because I began to think that something went wrong with the transplant, and this was it, I wasn’t going to make it past that moment.
I could see the worry in everyone’s face and for a while Ammie looked like she was keeping it together emotionally but there was this one moment that her expression changed, and I could feel the tears coming down my face. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and one of the nurses said to me, “Jose, you with us? Don’t go to sleep?” I obviously stayed awake. Soon after I was transferred to the ICU.
An Unforgettable Experience in the ICU
My stay in the ICU was an experience as well, as we were there recovering, we had the unfortunate experience of hearing someone lose a loved one in the ICU. It wasn’t like the movies, we never left to a commercial break, the cries and screams were devastating. Tears came down our faces as we listened to this person we had never met, and we never saw. Thankfully we only spent two days in the ICU before my vitals got better and I was transferred back to the stem cell transplant floor.
A day or two later I was released and sent to the Hope Lodge in Atlanta for further recovery. I had to find ways to get my appetite back and eat, I had lost like 25 lbs. in just a couple of weeks. All together between the hospital and staying at the Hope Lodge we were away from home for over 5 weeks.
This Has Changed Me Forever
This experience has forever changed me, and it makes me think of the millions of people out there fighting cancer and other illnesses. We all go through difficulties in life, but cancers physical and emotional damage is unique in that it reminds you that life is short and depending on how long you battle cancer, for some it may be a year or two, for others it’s a lifetime until cancer takes their life. We need to be grateful for the time we have and do the best we can to enjoy life.
New Cancer Related Project
Because of these experiences, Ammie and I are in the process of developing an online resource for cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s called Caregivers Guide to Cancer. We’re looking to add more local and national resources and expand the website in support of cancer patients around the world. We hope you can help support our cause as we continue to grow our platform.
“Thank you for following my journey. If you have the means and wish to contribute to my program by becoming a ‘Jose’s Hero’ where $10 per month can really help us, I invite you to review our program. In the meantime, join our Today with José email updates below.”