**Before I continue with my story, I need to send out prayers to Shannon at Chasing Rainbows for her precious little boy Finn. Know in your heart that it will all be okay!**
Human beings are the only animal able to rescue themselves from their own suffering. ~ From a sermon from Pastor Bill Davis at the First Presbyterian Church of Whippany NJ
I spent Christmas in the hospital.
I spent New Years in the hospital.
But my Christmas present that year in my eyes was nothing less than miraculous.
It is still the best present I EVER received.
I did not have Leukemia.
So what was it?
Without getting too technical, basically what was causing the bruising was a lack of platelets in my blood. Platelets clot your blood.
The average person has around 200,000 platelets.
When I arrived at the hospital two days before Christmas in 1993, I literally had 2. 2 platelets (2 might actually end up being a theme here).
My doctor told me it was the lowest he had ever seen and if I had cut myself at any time before I got to the hospital I could have bled to death right on the spot. Crazy right!
There are a lot of big fancy doctor-like words but I will break it down in laymen terms (or in other words non-doctor language):
Platelets are produced by your bone marrow. Since I had so few platelets, the first round of tests, tested for Leukemia which is cancer of the blood.
Being told you might have cancer is a moment no one should have to face.
I couldn’t even begin to describe what I was thinking or feeling at the time. Because your brain can’t wrap around the worst case scenario and the worst case scenario is all you can think about.
My results were absolutely, positively negative!
And THAT is a new lease on life! Something everyone should be graced with.
So the cause?
The spleen filters your blood. My spleen (for some unknown reason) wasn’t working and it was “killing” my platelets.
The treatment…tons and tons of steroids to “jump start” my spleen.
As I said the average person has about 200,000 platelets.
I had 2.
On my first day in the hospital, they gave me 10,000.
I needed 20,000 to get out of jail.
That took 14 days.
And all the while they were pumping me full of mood altering (anger inducing) steroids.
When my sailor had left I was still in the hospital.
When he came back I was staying with my mom.
Anyone who has ever been on steroids can tell you that the side effects are unbearable.
There is depression, weight gain (lots of weight gain); depression, my hair fell out, more depression and to add to the depression a good dose of insomnia.
Days upon days without sleep.
I went from the bed to the floor, to the couch, to the floor all in hopes of falling asleep. And this went on night after night. I even took my pillow and blanket into the bathtub one night in a desperate attempt to bring on the zzzs.
And let’s not forget the mood swings.
I was crazy, hysterically crying, irrational and angry.
And I mean angry.
I remember being in the supermarket with my sailor and I needed a new toothbrush. He said he needed one too. So I grabbed a double pack but he wanted a different kind in a single pack.
No big deal right!
I was infuriated. I pictured myself jumping on his back and sticking that toothbrush “you know where” after he gingerly grabbed it off the shelf and turned to walk down the aisle.
And I couldn’t figure out why.
There I was standing in the middle of the Pathmark envisioning murder by toothbrush.
I knew it was irrational but I still felt enraged.
Why I was feeling this way?
I didn’t know. All I knew was that I was suffering.
And my sailor…
He had no choice.
Once again he had to leave and I was still pacing the floors at all hours of the night begging for sleep or sweet release.
I was so alone.
The depression was so intense that every morning when I woke up or I should say got up from my very minimal sleep, I felt like I was being crushed under a concrete block.
I actually remember thinking that if I get hit by a bus today that would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
It took me a while before I equated all of this with the steroids.
I just kept thinking: “What is wrong with me!!”
But once I did put 2 and 2 together I knew something had to change.
So there were two things (I guess 2 really is a theme) that I decided I needed to do.
I needed to get off the steroids.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not like to gamble. I get pissed if I lose a roll of quarters in a slot machine.
But this was a gamble I HAD to take.
I knew I couldn’t be on these steroids “indefinitely” like my doctor said I would be.
So I had to bank on the fact that for most of my life I have been a very healthy person and that this must have been a freak occurrence.
I placed my bet that my body had healed and I could live without the steroids.
So, every day I would lessen my dose and once a month I would go to my Hematologist (who was this funny, little Asian man) for blood work.
And every time I would say: “How are my platelets?”
(Waiting for the house to win!)
And every time my Hematologist would reply: “Good. Good. How are you doing with the medicine?”
And I would say: “Good. Good.”
(Knowing I was left to play my hand one more time!)
Until one day after months of this wager, I turned and said: “How are my platelets?”
And he said: “Good. Good. How are you doing with the medicine?”
And I said: “I stopped taking the medicine 3 months ago.”
I’m pretty sure he was shocked and I knew the lecture was coming.
He told me in no uncertain terms that if my platelets started to drop and I refuse the medicine than he would have to remove my spleen.
I said: “So be it.”
And he folded.
I really don’t remember too many appointments after that.
But I won.
I knew I won.
I had to win because I couldn’t keep living like that.
And I felt better.
And I looked better.
Now I had to take care of the second thing that had been eating away at me since I got my new lease on life:
And that was I had to start living the life that I so graciously got back.
Ever since I had graduated college and met my sailor all I did was wait tables and bartend.
Waiting for him to return.
I wasn’t pursuing anything.
I wasn’t doing anything.
I wasn’t living my life.
I was biding my time.
I knew that none of this was his fault.
I loved him. I loved him more than life itself.
But when I was faced with losing my life…
I knew that I had to start living my life.
I actually had a friend at one time say to me: “You are too young to be sitting around pining away.”
So I decided to go for it.
I decided to pursue my dream and I auditioned for some of the best acting schools in Manhattan.
The process of auditioning was exhilarating in itself but getting accepted to one of the best Acting Conservatories in NYC…
I was over the moon.
But out of the two things I decided to do…
The first probably helped our relationship.
The second is probably what tore it apart.
Because once I started living my life…once I started going back to school…and breathing in the city, the lights and the Theatre, that is when it seemed like he got angry.
So angry that one day when I came home from school…
He was gone.