There was quiet, strangely soothing elevator music playing as I crossed the street between the parking structure and MCG‘s South Entrance. People sat outside on benches, smoking and chatting. Doctors strolled by in deep discussion. The doors yawned and folded open automatically before me, and it felt like going home.
I rode the elevator up to the fifth floor and followed the signs to 5 North. Then, to my left, I found it: MCG’s Bone Marrow Unit.
The nurse led me to a room which felt strikingly familiar. It was an odd cross between an extended-stay room, a storage room, and a waiting area. There was an adjustable table, but no bed, and there were two large, round hospital chairs, and sample vials and various other medical supplies were stacked in boxes near the window. A TV hanging from the corner was playing some sort of inspirational program. It wasn’t the same as the rooms in Markey that were my home for six-odd months…but it had the same feeling.
I sat and waited for someone to come, and my eyes burned.
The nurse came back and took my weight, temperature, and blood pressure. “Is it usually this high?”
Eventually a physician’s assistant arrived and led me to the end of the hall and another room, this one laid out like an extended-stay room but occupied by a round meeting table and three chairs rather than a bed. I sat at one and stared at the bank of cancer brochures on the counter across the room. After awhile I got up and used the restroom, and I wondered if the bathroom in my old hospital rooms was like this. It had a full-size bathtub, which seemed odd. I never took a bath in the hospital; I always took showers. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a bathtub. I actually can’t remember. But I do know that my rooms were much bigger than the rooms at MCG, and the layout was different, so maybe that’s all it was.
Eventually the doctor and the physician’s assistant came back to interview me. We played that game where the medical professional tries to guess which medications I’m on based on my vague clues and then I cry out “Yes!” when they finally get it right, and I gave as good a rundown of my time with leukemia as possible. I used to have good records, but they were destroyed in the fire, so now I just have to try and remember everything as best as I can. (As for not knowing my own medications, well, that’s me for you. I need to make myself a little note card or something.)
The doctor kept mentioning graft vs. host disease and how he couldn’t tell I’d ever had a BMT. Apparently graft vs. host leaves some physical signs. Since I didn’t have graft vs. host (I was lucky; Ben’s bone marrow took to me perfectly), I look normal.
I told him that I am pretty much normal except for my heart, which has slightly decreased function, and my ovaries, which don’t appear to work properly.
Finally, after the doctor got as much information out of me as I could remember, I signed a release so they could get the full story from Markey, and then the PA took me back to the first room and drew some blood for a CBC and that-other-one. (“Did you have a catheter?” she asked conversationally. “Yes.” “What kind? A Hickman?” “No…” “Groshong?” “Yes!”) Then I was free to go.
I walked back to my car, sleeve rolled up and cotton ball affixed to my inner elbow with a bandaid, and headed off to work.