Monday, June 20, 2011

The Journey Begins...

On June 6th, 2011, I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. A day that I will never forget, a day that started a journey that I had not planned. It all began when I noticed that my heart was racing during regular activities like doing chores around the house. Thursday June 2nd, I wondered when this "bug" would leave my body. Little did I know that it was aggressively settling in. I would take 3 long 2hr naps during the middle of the day?! Just couldn't pull myself together to do anything. I was all too weak and tired. At one point, I tried to fold 3 t-shirts and my body wouldn't have it.
Friday morning, I opened my eyes thinking: "It's gorgeous outside, it's gonna be a great day!". At rest, my body felt normal. I got up and felt my heart race. I thought 'no big deal' and jumped in the shower. But then it really hit me.. What in the world was going on with my body. It took all of my energy to shampoo my hair. My heart was racing so fast that it was giving me chest pains. I felt light-headed, I was seeing spots in my eyesight and had a toxic taste in my mouth. Not a good sign. I got down on my knees and gasped for air. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I told my husband that I just couldn't understand my body. Why wasn't it functioning like before. On my knees, I rinsed my hair and that was it for the shower. No conditioner, no nothing. I wrapped a towel around me and walked to our bed. I laid on it for a few minutes to give my heart a chance to slow down.
Adam had cooked breakfast. I got dressed and walked towards the kitchen with both hands on my hips, trying to retain as much energy possible. I felt like I had taken our dog Shadow for a long walk but that wasn't the case. It was only a short distance to the table. Feeling weak, I sat down holding my head in one hand and ate with the other. Once done, I wanted to go make our bed with the help of my husband. This task was completely out of the question as my heart started racing and I felt it pounding hard. I felt weak and lightheaded again so I got down on my knees to catch my breath. Breathing deeply, I told my husband that I was absolutely exhausted and was gonna take a nap. It was a very long nap, two and a half hours. When I opened my eyes at 2:30pm, my husband immediately said "that's it, we're going to the hospital". I could only say "ok". Deep down, I knew something was wrong.
I pulled my knees to my chest and rested during the drive to the hospital. As we parked, I thought to myself "well, here we go...". I was finally gonna get a prescription to make every symptoms go away. The walk from the parking lot to the ER was challenging, heart racing, pounding pulse, nauseous, weak and lightheaded. As I reached the reception desk, I folded my body in half to gather my strength and lower my heart from beating so fast and hard. That helped make the chest pains go away. Deep breaths.. The volunteer registered my case and said "Chest pains?!, you're way to young to have any of that". The comment was ignored while I focused on catching my breath and calming myself. Adam and I sat in the waiting room at the Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center for maybe 5 minutes. They wasted no time calling my name. I got up and followed the nurse into a little room. A long list of questions were asked and the next thing I knew, I was laying down on an examining table plugged to an ECG machine. [A machine that I had become very familiar with since I was studying to become a clinical rep for Boston Scientific]. I was then transfered to another examining room. There, they took chest x-rays followed by several blood tests. My mind tried to figure out what could possibly be doing this to my body but no answers were coming to mind with the symptoms I was having.
My blood results came back showing that my blood was extremely low. The nurse, who was all to cute with a pretty flower in her hair, said that I needed blood transfusions...four bags! I cringed. FOUR BAGS rang really loud in my head. I never ever had a blood transfusion. That thought was not settling well with me at all. I hoped that there was another option. I didn't want unknown blood injected into my body. I proceeded to tell the nurse my health history which included a life long of having low blood. I didn't want them to make a mistake and give me blood I actually didn't need. I was trying hard to convince her that it was totally normal for my blood to be low. She looked at me straigth in the eyes and said "you're blood levels are dangerously low and we will start the transfusion now". I swallowed hard and said okay. I signed all the forms and we got started. There I went again with my "are you sure it's good healthy clean blood?!". She reassured me of all my concerns, that the blood had been checked and matched to my blood type several times. She also went on to tell me that I will be staying in the hospital overnight. Another thing that had never happened to me in my life. She explained that my room would be ready around 8pm. I took deep breaths. This was a lot to take in all at once. She added that one bag of blood would drip for 3 1/2, therefore 4 bags would take about 14hrs. I swallowed and listened.
Once transfered in the hospital room, I felt tired. The nurse, Kelly, explained that I was in isolation and that everyone must wear masks around me. This was because my immune system was below normal levels. I understood. She repeatedly visited my room during the night to take my blood pressure, my oxygen, my temperature, my heart rate and listen to my lungs. I was being monitored closely to make sure I wasn't gonna have reactions to the blood. My husband spent the night with me, always by my side.
Saturday, June 4th was an early morning. They rolled me down to the CT room around 5am for chest and heart images. Then a whole new series of blood tests, lots of vials for a variety of tests. After the blood transfusions were complete, the nurse said that the doctor was gonna come see me. I was looking forward to asking him "what's wrong with me??". I had breakfast and a few hours later, I was brought down again to the CT Scan for lower abdomen digital images. They wanted to cover all parts of my body. We got a nice visit from our friend Dr. Crossman. He was the first to really put it into perpective for me exactly how dangerously low my blood was when I got to the hospital. That afternoon, I received platelets and the news that my parents were flying to Florida that very night.
Later that day, in walks the hematologist/Oncologist Dr. Michael Kelley. I was happy to see him. I was finally gonna be able to ask all my questions and get answers. He was the sweetest man with a calm soft voice. We exchanged questions and answers. Then, the news.. I needed a bone marrow biopsy. I broke down. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I couldn't believe I need that procedure. I was scared and upset.
Sunday, June 5th was "bone marrow biopsy" day. Dr. Kelley allowed Adam to stay by my side while he performed the procedure in my hospital room. Once it was over, a huge relief lifted from my shoulders. It was done! Later that afternoon, I received another bag of platelets and a series of blood tests. The rest of the day was spent visiting with friends and family.
To be continued...


Mrs K said...

My eyes was filled with tears when I read this. Im deeply sorry to hear abot you condition.I cannot even imagine how your world must be turned upside down.Its really strong of yu to share this story with us and Im sending ALL the GET WELL SOON wishes from Sweden!!!♥

Laura said...

Sending my thoughts and prayers Monique. We've been thinking about you since you told me what was going on. I know this is only a bump in the road of your life- and you will get through it and kick all of this to the ground. You have a wonderful husband, family and friends by your side no matter what.

If you're interested in reading another blog that I think you will enjoy and went through something similar- it's If anyone could be a strong inspiration and someone to relate to for support- check it out. She's wonderful.


Heather McWhorter said...

I am visiting from Mrs. K's blog and I just wanted to say - thank you for sharing this story. This disease is no stranger to me - my grandmother suffered from it as well. You are in my prayers!


Leslie Casey said...

Melissa has shared so much with me about you, but this blog has put me in tears. Not because I pity you. I cry because I'm simply moved. Moved by your strength, faith, and compassion for others during a time like this. You are going to be healthy again. I believe this with all of my heart. Have you ever read The Secret? It's a good read, about positive energy and attracting what you want in your life. You will beat this because you already know that you will beat it. Visualize yourself after they cure you. Visualize what you will be doing and how you will be feeling 6 months from now.
I will be in touch.
I love you.

Lauren said...

Sending prayers and hugs and lots of love your way...and Adam's way too!

Being the wife of a hockey player, it's a given that you are tough. You are a fighter and you are going to kick this cancer's ass, ya hear?

Let us know if there anything we can do out here in the blogosphere.

Patience said...

Sending lots of good thoughts and prayers your way. I hope you are feeling better soon. God Bless.

Angie said...

You are one of the strongest woman I know. Keep up the positive attitude and the winning spirit. You are so loved, have so many prayers and good vibes sent your way - a full recovery is only a hop, skip and a a few needle pokes away.
I love you girl!
Angele, xoxox

April said...

Monique, I am so glad you are blogging about all this. You have such life and passion about you, even more so when difficult situations present themselves.. and you are going to inspire and help SO MANY people.
Think of you all the time xoxo

CMD said...

I'm so terribly sorry to hear about this. No one should have to go through a struggle like this... but as someone else said, you're obviously a very STRONG woman because you're a hockey wife, so there is no doubt that you will beat it! I commend you for having the strength to share your story, and I'll most definitely be keeping you, your husband & the rest of your family in my thoughts and prayers and checking back regularly for updates! Take care.


Autumn Surprise said...

Hi Monique,

I don't know if you will remember me... but we worked together way back when I was a ABM for Coors Light. I just wanted to send you my love and support. I am sending all my healthy wishes your way. You have a beautiful soul and your strength is inspiring. XO


J and A said...

Oh my goodness Monique. I don't even know how to comment on this. I am so so so sorry you are going through all of this. I am sending you bug hugs and many well wishes. I have checked you blog a lot recently and this was not the post I was expecting. :( My heart breaks for you but I know you are a super strong girl and will get thourg all of this. Keep us posted. Lots of hugs.

emily_86 said...

You are an amazing and strong person Monique! Your strength and positive attitude is inspiring to read and I know when you beat this you will have plenty more stories to share. Keep your chin up and beautiful smile on your face. I think about you often and wish you the best. Get home soon... I miss you...

Anonymous said...

you are very much an inspiration to all of us...God does not impose difficulties like this on us if he doesn't think we are strong enough to handle them..and I know you will get through this with alot of courage, prayers, and strength. I will be thinking about you :-)

Katrina Good said...

You are the kindest, most gentle of souls and such a beautiful woman both inside and out that I have ever met. I wish that I could get on a plane and come give you a big hug!! Sarah had vacation bible school last week and when asked what they wanted to pray about she said "Miss Monique"! She asks me daily about you and we pray daily for your quick healing. We love you and can't wait to give you big hugs and kisses.

Abramyan Avenue said...

Oh Monique, I cried when I read this post. I can't imagine you being so weak that washing your hair was impossible. My heart goes out to you. I am so thankful that you went to the hospital and know what the problem is. It's so wonderful you have such a loving family and group of friends there to support you. I promise you will stay in my every prayer!! I pray for you to feel better and get strong soon!!
Sending you lots of love,
April R

Ashley said...

Sending prayers your way from Canada!!! (I am a new follower)

Ashley Paige said...

I just read your story on a post written by Alison of The Life and Times of Justin and Alison. My prayers are with you as you begin this long journey ahead of you! I've spent the last five years working as a Hematology/Oncology nurse- so your story is very close to home for me. Please email me if you ever need anything.. a laugh, to vent, etc. Anything! I've been a stay at home Mommy ever since my son was born last year and I would love to be of any help ;o)

Alyssa C said...

Oh Monique, my heart aches for you and Adam and your family...I can't imagine what you're going through, but I do know you are so amazingly strong and you WILL beat this!!! You are such a beautiful person inside and out...I am so thankful to have met during our season in Syracuse and I've thought of you so much over the past years, and especially now. You always have a smile on your face and put yourself before others...God is watching over you and will help you get through this time in your life. I can't wait to read your blogs about days at the beach again...going to DD's for coffee with your loving husband...walks with Shadow...maybe heading back overseas for another hockey season!!?? Hang in there Monique...stay strong and know that you have so, so many people in your corner who love and care about you and are praying for your quick and complete recovery!!!! Much love from Canada!!!