From Where I Sit – How I Spent My Weekend

If a teacher asked me to write about ?how I spent my weekend,? I’d have a doozy. First, some background.

On September 4, I felt light-headed while showering. I sat on the edge of the tub until I felt better. I chalked it up to a case of nerves before my first funeral as a celebrant, and didn’t think about it again.

On September 10, I went down to the laundry room, took a load of clothes out, put another in, and walked back upstairs. My legs felt leaden, my heart was pounding. I managed to make it to the bed before I dropped. Eventually, I got my second wind and carried on. Saturday, I felt weak and light-headed again; I didn’t think I could drive the 30 kilometres to the wedding I was to perform that afternoon. For the first time in nearly a hundred weddings, Roy had to drive me. I managed, with the help of adrenaline I think, to perform the ceremony. I had a hard time walking up the incline from the park to our car. Roy helped me the last 20 feet or so before I dropped down on the back seat. Next stop, the emergency department of a hospital about an hour from home.

It seems my hemoglobin (or red blood cell) count had dropped to 78. Since the normal range is between 120 and 160 grams per litre, this was not good. The decision was made to do a blood transfusion. But because my blood type is AB Rh positive and only present in 2.5 per cent of the population, it needed to be ordered from the blood bank. On Sunday, I showed up at the emergency department to begin what would be nearly a 10-hour stay to receive three units of packed blood cells.

When the doctor mentioned a transfusion, I remembered the tainted blood scandal of the 1990s and knew enormous (and expensive) steps had been taken to ensure the safety of the blood supply. I also knew that in 2007, when my hemoglobin hit 73, it took months of iron supplements to bring me close to a normal range.

That scary score, which makes a person vulnerable to heart attack or stroke, also triggered about a year’s worth of tests which, through a process of elimination, attempted to determine the cause and rule out things like cancer. So I’ve had three abdominal ultrasounds, two colonoscopies, two endoscopies, a barium swallow, a Meckel scan, a capsule endoscopy, an MRI, consults with a hematologist and an internal medicine guy, and monthly blood work. The conclusion was Cameron’s erosions, associated with a large hiatus hernia, and a prescription for Prevacid for the rest of my life.

So, what happened this time is anyone’s guess and no doubt the start of another mystery worthy of TV’s Dr. House.

Some good reading material and the knowledge that drop by drop by drop, my lifeblood was being restored, made my Sunday bearable. Heartfelt thanks to the donor(s), from where I sit.

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