Posted in Long Blurbs 22. Feb, 2011
The following is a journal I kept of a very life changing week for me. Please visit the website on my suggested pages to donate to my Relay for Life cause after you have finished reading.
February 7, 2011
I wake up this morning and the sun is shining. I’m not sure if I like that yet. I haven’t seen it for quite a while, and I have to squint my eyes a lot because I’m not quite used to it. I spread out my toes and stretch my arms up above my head, and finally convince myself to get up and out of my cozy bed. Shower, brush my teeth, dry my hair… I’m going through the motions.
I start pouring myself a bowl of cereal and I get a text from Reid. Our conversation is as follows…
REID: I don’t feel good; I’ve had a stomach ache all day. Are you feeling anything like that?
LYSH: No… what did you eat so far today?
REID: PB and J, banana bread, cheerios, walnuts, granola bar, milk and water
LYSH: Is your milk bad? I don’t know, I don’t feel sick
REID: It is good for another few days. I had it when I got up and thought it would be better once I ate but it’s getting worse.
LYSH: Do you have Pepto Bismol? Or a thermometer?
REID: I have Pepto, but I still have to go to chem. I’m on campus so it will be at least another 2 hours.
LYSH: Is it achey or nauseous
REID: Achey. Very uncomfortable.
LYSH: You should see a doctor if it isn’t gone by tomorrow. Cramps happen for a reason. Call me after chem. I love you.
REID: I love you too.
Reid calls me around 4:30pm, and I make it over to his place after yoga around 9:00pm. I brought with me a body warmer (my favorite thing to use to keep warm while skiing, thank you Aunty Susan for sharing). I tell him to peel it off and stick it on the front or back of his shirt. I remember reading somewhere that warmth can help cramps. He says he feels a little better, but I only half believe him. I kiss him goodnight and head back to my apartment to finish some homework.
February 8, 2011
I wake up Tuesday morning, head to class and then back to my apartment. I text Reid after class to check in and see if he is feeling better at all. Maybe the heating patch helped a little.
LYSH: How are you feeling?
REID: It still hurts, just less bad, and its only low stomach instead of the whole thing.
LYSH: Eat a banana or oatmeal. Go to hall health if it isn’t gone by this afternoon.
REID: One of my boys kind of hurts (left) too. The internet said sometimes this happens and goes away.
LYSH: Just get it looked at please. I’m serious
REID: I’m going to hall health tomorrow if the pain doesn’t go away.
LYSH: Why not today
REID: Because if it’s nothing it’ll go away sometime today. Maybe I will call the nurse hotline at Hall Health
LYSH: At least do that. Pain and cramps are caused by something, and this isn’t the first time.
I’m finished with class for the day and I’m cleaning through my apartment. I found an old disposable camera from Nepal that I never got developed. I get dressed for yoga and decide that I will drop off the camera at Bartell’s on the way to yoga class. As I’m leaving my apartment I get a text from Reid.
REID: I’m in hall health right now, waiting to see a doctor. I figured sooner rather than later.
LYSH: Good, call me when you’re done if you can.
I spend about 10 minutes at the counter trying to explain to this Russian lady that I didn’t want double prints of the photos. I scurry back into my car after dropping off the camera and I get another text from Reid.
REID: Could you drive me to a TBA emergency room?
LYSH: Where are you? I’m in my car near U Village because I was going to go to yoga. I’ll just stay here until you are ready to be picked up.
REID: I have to go to Roosevelt branch at 12:30, and may have to go to the ER after that.
LYSH: When and where do you want me to get you? I can come now.
REID: I can just walk to Roosevelt; I may have to find someone to work for me.
LYSH: If you’re not in Hall Health anymore you need to call me right now.
Reid calls, and I convince him to stop being stubborn and let me drive him to the Roosevelt clinic. I pick him up at 11, but his appointment isn’t until 1:00pm. I hold his hand as I’m driving and asked what the doctors said. He explains that they suspect it is Testicular Torsion. I don’t understand exactly what it is as I am not a male, but it sounds painful. They said he had to go to the Roosevelt clinic to get an ultrasound to confirm. If it is confirmed, he has to get to the ER as soon as possible. I ask if he wants to call his parents, and he says he’ll wait until after the ultrasound, no point in worrying them if nothing is there. I can tell he is scared; he’s never had any serious medical problems. I hug him tight and tell him it will be okay, “Let’s not worry about it until you get the ultrasound done,” I reason, “maybe it’s nothing. If it is something, people go to the ER every day. They will make you better again.”
I suspect that he is hungry so we grab lunch nearby at Portage Bay. He gets a Rueben (his favorite), and I get a bowl of soup. The Roosevelt clinic is less than a block away. I drive over there and park in their garage. I can tell Reid is uncomfortable walking. We arrive at the clinic, check in, and sit in the waiting room. We’re flipping through the magazines, laughing and making fun of the dumb advertisements. We get called back and the Radiologist Technician introduces herself. I don’t remember her name. She had blonde hair and sunken in cheeks. This is where I start to see a flaw in medicine that I dislike. These people are making decisions that could change our lives forever. They’re performing tests and analyzing them. They’re nameless to us. They walk into our lives for a very brief moment, change them forever, and they’re never to be seen again. Just another face in the crowd. She’s not particularly personable. She performed the ultrasound, and I sat in the corner watching the screen, wondering what exactly it was I was seeing. I couldn’t make out much of anything.
She leaves and tells us someone will be in shortly to discuss the results. Reid sits up and we both can’t help but giggle a little bit. Our mood is mostly happy, just waiting to hear the results so we can take the necessary actions to make him feel better again. A tall man with dark hair comes in. he introduces himself to both of us, shaking our hands. I don’t remember his name. Just another face in the crowd.
He’s looking down at the ground. “So, the doctors at Hall Health thought you had Testicular Torsion.” He explains. (Okay “thought”, this could be good, maybe he doesn’t have it). “But when we did the ultrasound and measured blood flow, the flow was perfectly normal, indicating that you do not have it. However, what we did find were…”
He pauses again and swallows, glancing away at the corner of the room and trying to bring his gaze back to Reid. I’d think he’d be used to telling people this kind of stuff but maybe not. Maybe he wasn’t expecting this either. “We found what essentially appear to be two ‘masses’ within your left testicle.” He finishes.
My heart stops. A lump forms in my throat, and my stomach tightens.
“Okay, so what does that mean?” Reid jumps in.
“Well, most often times. When a mass is found within the testicle, it usually means that it’s cancer.”
For a brief moment, that two syllable world that this name-less doctor spoke made the world stop turning. I couldn’t breathe. This had to be a dream.
“Okay,” said Reid. Everything else is a blur. No-name doctor left the room and I hated myself for not being able to stop my tears for Reid. I wanted to be nothing but strong for him, but I just couldn’t believe it. This shouldn’t have happened. It can’t be happening. There’s no way this was real. I hugged him tight, trying to pull myself together. He kisses my ear and whispers something inside it, “It’s okay, it will only make me stronger.”
I wish he wouldn’t say that, because I don’t want any of this to be true.
I convince Reid to call in a sub for work so he can have the night off. We go back to Hall Health so he can get his blood redrawn. We end up back to my apartment, both of us completely drained. It’s 4:00pm, and we collapse onto my bed. It’s 8:30pm when we wake up, our tummies growling. I decide to run to Whole Foods since I have a gift card there, and grab some groceries to make burritos. Plus a little box of oatmeal cookies for Reid.
Come back, chop the veggies, cook the meat, and assemble burritos. Reid devours three of them. It’s almost 10:30 by the time we’re finished. We have to get to Romio’s because the waitress there doesn’t know how to close the restaurant. Drive to Romio’s, wait for Ivo to finish mopping the floors, close out the computers and cash register, lock the doors, drive back, and pass out.
Wednesday: February 9, 2011
I have one class today. This is good because I spend a lot of the day driving Reid around. I drop him off at drama class at 11:00, and return at noon to take him to UWMC. He has an appointment with Dr. Bruce Dalton to further evaluate the “mass” that was found yesterday.
I’m not sure what to expect. Reid’s dad, Guy, called about 20 times yesterday to keep trying to convince Reid that it was an infection, not cancer. After all, his blood tests came back indicating he had a high WBC (white blood cell) count. I’m expecting cancer, but hoping it’s just an infection. After filling out extensive paper work, we’re called back to meet with the doctor. He comes in to shake our hands, and asks Reid to sit in the chair closest to his desk. I sit beside him.
He talks with his eyes wide open; he looks like someone who’s had about 8 cups of coffee. He’s smiling. I’m not sure if that is reassuring or not. He jumps right into business. First, Dr. Dalton starts by recapping the news we found out yesterday. He then continues to explain that there are two possibilities that it is either cancer or an infection; he is quick to remind us that masses found within a testicle are most often cancerous. Once he does an examination, and we get more blood results back, we will know for sure. I leave the room with Guy (Reid’s dad) while he does the examination. We’re filed back in, and he explains his hypothesis that he’s pretty sure it’s cancer. He jumps right into the next steps.
1. We will schedule a surgery for an oriechtomy on Monday, the 14th
2. Reid can stay on antibiotics over the weekend to see if the pain gets better at all – if it does it is possible that it may be an infection
3. When the rest of the blood tests come back, if certain “markers” are elevated, that means that the tumor is cancerous
4. Prosthetics are available
5. Fertility is not affected
6. Within the next few days if it is confirmed that it is cancer, a CT scan will have to be done to see if the cancer has spread to any other areas of the body
7. After the surgery, we will have to have another consultation to see what the following treatment options are depending on the type of cancer.
Boom, boom, boom. He sat there writing out all of this information on a piece of paper, front and back. Writing out fancy medical terms we’d never heard before, drawing diagrams, and trying to explain everything. We walk out overwhelmed, but at least satisfied that we have a plan of action.
Get in the car, drive Reid back to campus (he has chemistry lecture at 3:30 and a lab from 6:30 to 9:30). I return to my apartment and try to work on my homework, but fail. My mind is refusing to think about anything else but what’s going on right now. Reid texts me between his classes.
REID: I have a CT scan Friday at an unknown time. My blood markers are slightly elevated, so the Monday surgery is a go for sure.
LYSH: Okay, I love you. We can talk about it when I see you after lab. I’m here to be with you every step of the way.
I drive over to Reid’s apartment at 6; Will is there to let me in thankfully. I walk into Reid’s room and start cleaning. To really appreciate this, you just need to see his room at some point. The ground is buried under… stuff. Random crumpled papers, clothes, socks, his long board, books, shoes, ankle weights, granola bars, water bottles, pencils, pens, and many other surprises. It is also an ice box in there, he got shafted with the smallest room in the apartment, I call it the Harry Potter closet. I am in there until about 7:30 until it is sparkling clean. I have a plastic bag full of garbage, and a cardboard box full of granola wrappers. I take them out front to dump them in the trash. I gather all his clothes that I believe are dirty (it is hard to distinguish when everything is on the floor); he at least has a hamper full of some stuff too. I grab the hamper and tear the sheets off his bed and trump down to the laundry room below. Will and Tony (Reid’s roommates) probably think I am acting insane. Insert quarters, start the laundry. The room is spotless; I’m thoroughly impressed with myself. I turn on his space heater so the room won’t freeze his socks off when he gets back.
It’s 8:00 and I’m assuming I’ll have to be back on campus around 9:00 or so to pick up Reid. I run to the store again quickly to get some Tylenol, cinnamon rolls and bananas. Reid calls as I am leaving, and I run back to pick him up. We arrive at the apartment and I start cooking the rice that I brought with me from my apartment. He has leftover chicken and veggies, so I decide to combine those with the rice. The boys don’t share their food usually, they write the first letter of their name on whatever food items they bought. I write an “R” on the bananas, and on the box of cinnamon rolls “To Share”. I figured it would make a nice breakfast.
Reid still hasn’t gone into his room. Sometimes he’s embarrassed to open the door when I’m there because it is usually such a mess. I tell him to take a couple Tylenol for the pain and put the rest in his room, he opens the door and lets out a “What the heck!?” Clearly surprised.
I finish drying his laundry, make the bed, and kiss him good night. It’s 10:00. Time to (try to) do my homework. I end up pulling an all-nighter but somehow end up getting virtually nothing done. I think I work about 30 times slower when my mind is wandering other places. Plus I end up writing these unnecessarily long journal entries… anything to make the time go by I suppose.
February 10, 2011
No doctor appointments today. It is somewhat of a relief. The past two days felt like a week. I do not sleep at all. It is 6:30am when I start to realize that I’ve just pulled an all-nighter. It’s too late now to go to sleep. I walk to the bakery, grab some coffee, and head to class.
Back to the apartment, hop in the car. I pick up Reid at 10:15 to take him to class. Walking is really uncomfortable. He has his long board with him and says he can ride back since its all downhill on the Burke Gillman.
I skip my class at 1:00 later that day. I’m exhausted and I still feel like I have so much to catch up on. I can’t focus or do anything. I drive to the bank to deposit some money and call Reid. He asks if I can come over. My bank is less than a quarter mile from where he lives, so I drive over thinking I might just say Hi. We end up falling asleep (again), both of us exhausted.
Its 4:00 and I decide to leave for work. Reid was planning on visiting a friend, Andy, who lives on Greek Row at about 8:00. I tell him to come with me to work and one of the pizza drivers could probably give him a ride, he could work on his homework until then. He agrees and off we go.
Work is super slow. I don’t really want to be there. Reid leaves at 7:45 and I ask Orinna if she can close for me that night. She knows what’s going on and agrees, so I’m off by 9:00. Go back to the apartment, try to keep my eyes open while “reading” my textbook. Reid calls at 10 and I go to pick him up from Greek Row.
He has a CT scan scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30am. I have a psychology quiz section. Nothing terribly exciting. I tell him I’ll be there.
February 11, 2011
I fall asleep at about 1:30am. At 4:00am, my phone rings, Gordon Savage. I don’t pick up, he’s probably drunk. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s called me asking for a ride or just to scream in my ear. I can’t fall back asleep, 4 is pretty late… he usually calls at like 1 or 2.
I call him back. He’s totally panicked and out of breath. He’s with one of his other fraternity brothers.
GORDY: I’m with my friend right now. He’s been having a really rough night, his parents are in the middle of getting a divorce. He started running away so I chased after him. I don’t want to leave him because I’m afraid he’s going to do something stupid, he wants to walk back home – to Issaquah. He’s heading for the 520 Bridge and I don’t know what to do
ALYSHA: Do you need me to come get you guys?
GORDY: No, I don’t know! I just don’t know what to do!
ALYSHA: Why else would you have called me? Do you need me to pick you up?
GORDY: You’re right. If you can, can you? I’m sorry. We’re on Montlake nearing the freeway, I don’t know what to do to make him stop.
ALYSHA: Hold him till I get there. Do not let him get on the freeway. Tell him you have a friend coming and that I’ll drive him to Issaquah.
GORDY: But you’re not going to actually drive to Issaquah, right?!
ALYSHA: No, but if you tell him otherwise I don’t think he’ll get in my car. Just do what I said, I’ll be there in 5 minutes
I put on my boots, my puffy jacket, glasses, jump in my car and drive toward the bridge. I let out a sigh when I look at the clock to see its 4:45am. I call as I turn onto Montalke.
ALYSHA: Where are you?
GORDY: We’re on the freaking freeway. I couldn’t stop him.
ALYSHA: Are you on the bridge yet?
GORDY: No, we’re getting really close, I don’t know what to do
ALYSHA: Just look for my car. Tell him to stop and turn around and look for me.
I am in disbelief. I turn onto the freeway, looking for two people. I don’t see them anywhere. I pull over to the shoulder just before the bridge. Finally, two people running toward the car. I unlock the doors and they jump in.
Of course there are now no exits to get off 520 so I drive all the way across the bridge before turning around to come back. I meet this kid, I don’t remember his name. He looks beyond depressed. I try to talk to him a little about his parents. I feel comfortable since I know how it feels. He starts sobbing in the back of my car. They don’t even seem drunk – even scarier.
I’m silent the rest of the way as I think about what I’m going to say to this guy. I get off the Montalke exit, take the 45th street ramp up to Greek row, and park outside the fraternity. I turn around and grab this kid by the shoulder, looking him in the eyes.
“Look, I know you don’t even know me, but let me tell you something. I left my apartment at 4:00 this morning after not sleeping the past 2 days because my boyfriend of 3 and a half years was just diagnosed with cancer. I understand what you’re going through is painful, and that’s why I came. If you need someone to talk to, you be sure to let me know. But you also need to know that you have control over this situation. Don’t let it get the best of you. I’m serious. Don’t let something like this happen again. You have people here who obviously really care about you, okay?”
He looks up at me still with tears in his eyes. “Thank you so much,” he chokes. Gordy helps him out of the car and asks me to wait to make sure he doesn’t run off again. They’re in safe and I drive away. Back to the apartment by 5:30am, try to sleep and fail. I’ve gotten about 4 hours of sleep in the past 36 hours.
We leave at 8:30am, and it’s a good thing. Reid has to chug about 1.5 liters of this chemical solution so the CT scan can see better… or something. We have to wait 45 minutes after he finishes to get checked in. I’d say of this entire process, waiting and not knowing is by far the worst part of the whole thing. Hearing you have cancer is bad, hearing you have to have surgery is bad, but waiting to see if you MIGHT hear those things is about a million times harder. We’re in the waiting room for almost an hour.
I have to sit and wait on a couch while the scan is done which takes about 15 minutes. We don’t get the results, nobody talks to us. We’re sent away and told we’ll be contacted “within 24 hours” with the results. More nameless faces. More waiting.
Reid’s hungry but we don’t have a lot of time, his next class is at 11:30. I drive to University Village and we grab some breakfast sandwiches at a bakery. Back in the car. Drive up to campus and kiss goodbye.
I go back to my apartment and my eyes are heavier than ever. I can’t fall asleep because I have too much to do. It’s a vicious cycle, not sleeping and then trying to catch up on what I’ve missed. I seem to just take so much longer trying to catch up, and as a result I end up losing more sleep. 4:00 rolls around and I run to the nearby Starbucks to grab myself a white mocha, I pick up Reid a soy late. Drive through the insane foot traffic on camps, pick up Reid from chemistry, and we’re off to work. The night seemed to drag on forever; it was slow for a Friday. When I was ready to leave, our boss (Slavian) sits down with our head chef (Eugenio), and they share a couple beers. Then a couple beers lead to a couple more beers, and we didn’t leave the restaurant until almost 1:30am. It was nice to share a few good laughs with them after a long week, but I was ready for my pillow when I returned to my cozy apartment.
February 14, 2011
Reid spent the weekend at his parent’s place in Sammamish. Monday morning I had a test and shortly after I headed over to the hospital at around 1:00pm. Reid was scheduled for surgery at 2:00. It’s Valentine’s Day; I don’t think either of us ever could have predicted spending a Valentine’s Day in this fashion. I show up and find him sitting in the waiting room dressed in pajama bottoms, a running shirt, and a fancy button up jacket… typical Reid. He said he didn’t know what people were supposed to wear to surgery, so he just put on a little bit of everything.
I try my best to smile when I’m with him, but it breaks my heart to see him in pain. I wish it was me instead. Reid’s mom, Becky, his Aunt Tracy and Cousin Adam are all there to support him. Adam has had several cancer related surgeries over the past year. Reid leaves for the surgery room with his mom, and the waiting begins.
I play Sudoku for a while, then Angry Birds, then Gin with his aunt Tracy, I had a little piece of Becky’s left over slice of carrot cake that Tracy brought. We chat for a while and I get up and pace back and forth across the hospital. We wait almost 5 hours before we’re let back to see Reid waking up from surgery. I walk back with a smile, but again my heart is sinking. I never wanted to see him like this. In a hospital bed with IV’s, a hospital gown, and hospital bracelets tagged all over his wrists. He’s holding a cup of ice water in his left hand so I touch his shoulder and give him my best smile. He doesn’t look happy at all, he’s in so much pain and I hate it.
Adam helps Reid get dressed, and they wheel chair him out to Becky’s car, I give him one more kiss before shutting his door and getting back in my own car to drive to my apartment. It’s dumping rain outside. I arrive back home and plop onto my bed. I peek outside and see couples with umbrellas walking to restaurants. My heart sinks a little more. I lay there for 20 minutes before I call Reid, he didn’t pick up. I lay for 5 more minutes before I call Becky. She lets me talk to Reid and I ask him how he’s doing.
“Are you really sleepy? Do you think you’re just going to want to sleep when you get back? Or, do you think I could stop by for a little bit?” I couldn’t hold it in any longer, the tears were pouring out this time and I hated myself again for not being strong for him.
He calms me down and tells me to come over whenever I can. Traffic is horrible in the weather but I get there around 7:30pm. We watch The Proposal with Sandra Bullock with the rest of Reid’s family, and I spend time running back and forth refilling his ice bag. 12:30am rolls around, and I have to leave. I have an 8:30 class the next morning. I give him a kiss, and whisper a “Happy Valentine’s Day.”