8.20.2015

From London to the ER Part I

I went to London.

Two international trips in one summer, I know. That's how I roll apparently.

"Life's short. Live simple. Travel big." - Sarah

Only 24 hours before my departure home, the one thing I've been warned about by every single oncologist happened - I got a fever.

The fever is like this dark boogie man story they tell around the oncology camp fire. You never want to see the fever! Beware the fever! Call us any time of day of you get a fever! My first oncologist even gave me a script for antibiotics and told me to fill it immediately if I got a fever.

The fever start after a night in the bathroom. Nothing shocking there, considering the chemo, so I took the assortment of pills I brought to calm all that down, and off to the Tower of London we went to see the royal jewels before the mad rush. It was there that I just couldn't get warm, and I kept wondering if the back of my neck was just a tad too toasty. It had been years since I had a fever, so I think I was in denial.

By mid-afternoon we were back at the flat and I crashed. I assumed a few hours of sleep would have me back in full form and ready to make the most of my last night in town, but it found me still in bed and starting the adventure that would encompass the next 5 days.

This is where you will want to stop of you can't handle the truth. The dirty, bloody truth. And I'm using bloody in the British sense AND in the literal sense. This is not going to be pretty.

Remember that diarrhea from earlier? Well it never went away, and combined with the fever, my intestines got angry. When the intestines get inflamed, it's something called colitis. And with collitis, comes bloody diarrhea. Only I had nothing left in me, so it was just blood. I wasn't remotely alarmed by this, as I knew my colon was in tip top shape otherwise and I was very well read up on this very subject. The average person would have and should have freaked out, but not a girl who is well read on the subject and is confident in her otherwise healthy colon.

With less than 12 hours before take off, I needed to start formulating my plan to get home. There was no way I was going to give myself over to the NHS, so I needed to suck it up and get thee across the pond. It started with my seat. At this point I was willing to pay those premiums for choice seats if it meant I could be close to the bathroom. Not only had they released all the seats for your choosing, there she was in the last row, on the aisle, directly across from the bathroom waiting for me.

One less thing that required effort.

I spent the flight home trying to look well. I slept off and on, made unnoticable trips to the loo, covered myself in my blanket to hide the shivering from the fever, and dutifully took my Advil before we landed in the event they were scanning people for body heat a la the Ebola days. Why a thought like this even occurred to me I don't know. I just wanted to get back without being quarinteened, and I didn't want to cause some in-flight panic with a fever.

I'm not going to lie, I felt extremely sick. I was very dehydrated, extremely weak, and feverish. My plan was to head straight to the ER once I got home. If I was a normal person with a fever, I would have gone home and gone to bed, but given my compromised immune system and the colitis, I knew the ER was the only option for me.

As we were getting off the plane, I was trying to plan ahead and consider how I was going to conserve the most energy possible. I was going to be in the back of the customs line, and my plan was to just sit and scoot on my suitcase through the long line. As long as I could sit, I would be OK.

Once off the plane, I kept noticing signs for all passengers without checked baggage. Apparently they (me) were to stay to the right, and everyone else was to stay to the left. At this point I was asking myself why I did TSA Pre-Check over Global Entry. The signs kept coming until I came upon 2 customs agents and a sign that indicated they sitting there exclusively for passengers traveling without checked bags. It wasn't too good to be true. There would be no long customs line. Just one man in front of me, and 2 customs agents to handle us both. Wtihin 3 minutes I was through customs.

One less thing that required effort.

Having run this international terminal drill at ORD on my way out of town, I knew there would be a tram and I would have to go back through TSA to get to my domestic gate. A quick check of my UK-printed boarding pass showed that it did not bear my beloved TSA Pre-Check mark, and as I came down the escalator from the tram, I could see the long TSA line. My exhausted body wanted to collapse at the though of waiting in it. I considered pleading my case to a ticketing agent, and then decided to take my chances at a domestically-printed boarding pass at the kiosk at the foot of the escalator. Surely they would let me print a new one, right?

"Hi, Sarah. Would you like to reprint your boarding pass?" Why yes, yes I would. And through to a completely empty TSA Pre-Check line I went with my newly printed Pre-Check bearing boarding pass.

One less thing that required effort.

My next obstacle was finding my gate and its relation to a bathroom. Worst case I thought I could position myself between the bathroom and my gate, and just hover until it was time to board. The women's restroom ended up sharing a common wall with my gate.

One less thing that required effort.

Then I crossed my fingers and hoped this would be one of those full flights where they were begging people to check their carry-ons to their final destination. I didn't have the energy to lift that baby one more time and try and cram it into an overhead bin that was packed with improperly stowed carry-ons. Suitcases go straight in with wheels out people. And if it fits under your seat, put it under your seat and save the overheads for those of us with suitcases.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a completely full flight, and we are looking for volunteers to check their carry-ons through to their final destination." Ding, ding, ding! Let me be the first to hand it over.

One less thing that required effort.

I curled up in a cold metal cafe chair by the bathrooms, rested my head on the wall, and waited to board. On the jet way, I could feel myself weakening, and leaned up against the wall to support myself. I just kept begging myself not to pass out, and knew I was bad enough off that I was going to need a wheelchair to meet me at the gate. Unable to find the option to request one on the Delta app since I had already checked in, I texted Kyle and told him to try get me one. It was the last text I sent before we took off, and the reply upon landing let me know I was going to make it.

There on the jetway, holding an iPad with my name on it, was the man who would push me down the home stretch.

One less thing that required effort.

The wheelchair took me to baggage, and Kyle took me straight to the ER, where I walked in and told them I was neutropenic, running a fever, and shitting blood. That right there is how you get admitted immediately folks.

And thus ends Part I of this story.



2 comments:

Carrie S. said...

Yikes! Glad you made it home ok!

tahitiangoddess said...

So glad you and your nether regions made it home in one piece. What a trip!

By the way--check out the hair on you!