Lives Forever Changed - I am Glad!
So many patients effect our nursing practice, but this one will stay with me forever.
Tom was 35 years old when he got sick. A strong police officer, Tom never expected to be diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. One day he was on the SWAT Team, breaking down doors, gun in hand, fighting the bad guys. That afternoon, he went to his regular blood donation appointment. By evening, he was admitted to the hospital. In 2 days he was told his career was over & maybe his life.
With his version of AML, Tom chances of surviving 2 years were 19%. His entire life was changed. Thin, active, married with a young stepson, Tom had a plan. Cancer was NOT in the plan. Tom’s wife was a nurse, his doctor was her friend. Together, they broke the news. No more police work, chemotherapy would start immediately & continue over the next year. Major life changes would occur. Plans would have to be made.
Tom did not react, he was incredibly stoic. His friends rallied. Two shaved their heads. The biggest blood drive in Central Florida was organized, bone marrow was collected. Tom got sicker. His wife began her research. The doctor worried.
One day, Tom’s wife decided she could no longer tolerate the idea of 19% survival rates. Her research revealed that a stem cell transplant had the potential to improve Tom’s survival odds to 50%. The fight began.
Without the doctor’s knowledge, she submitted Tom for transplant at the best center for AML in the country. Blood was secretly sent. The wife waited with baited breath. She prayed.
The doctor found out. An angry confrontation ensued. “Why did you do this behind my back?” the doctor accused. “Why didn’t you offer us all the options?” the wife pleaded! “I couldn’t stand for you to be disappointed when there were no matches,” the doctor admitted.
September 11th, 2001 brought the news. The very day and the very moment of the attacks on the World Trade Center – I got a call saying that my husband & his sister were a 100%, 6 allele match for a stem cell transplant! I couldn’t stop crying! Tom, my husband, might live!
Frantically, we began making arrangements. Immediate action was needed if we were to stop this disease and reclaim our lives.
Somehow, we were able to board a plane on September 13th and fly to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for Tom’s intake assessment. We made every connection – while all planes were grounded, we travelled with flight crews being repositioned throughout the country.
Tom is now 7 years cancer free. My husband is the patient who changed my life & my nursing practice.
I now know what it is like to be afraid at the bedside of a patient.
I now know what it is like to wait, uncertain, desperate for information.
I know what it feels like when someone you love has life hanging by the very thread.
I know what it is like to have options withheld.
I know the pain of having to leave & go to work, not knowing if my loved one is being cared for.
Now, I know.
I will never be the same nurse.
I am glad.
Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 83; Likes: 91
Health & Wellness Coach, ICU RN
Specialty: 13 year(s) of experience in Wellness Coach, ICU, PACU, OR, MgmtSep 11, '08Thanks greenergrass for sharing you touching story. I pray that you have many more happy years together