One of the side effects of radiation on the bowel area is διάρροια, a Greek word meaning "flowing through". Germans say durchfall. Our Icelandic friends use the word niðurgangur. In Swahili they call it kuhara. While the French say la diarrhée.
When I was a little boy I told my Grandma Myrtle that I was sick, she asked if I had "the trots?". Not knowing what the trots were, she said "You know, you trot back and forth to the bathroom, a lot." This past week I've trotted more than a pony show.
We had a camping trip planned with our friends Devon and Sarah at Horne Lake Caves, about 3+ hours up island. On the way there I made an emergency pit stop in the town of Lantzville. A tip for my fellow travelers thinking public restrooms exist there, nope. Their gas station, no. Clinic, no. Plaza, no. The local karate dojo, "So sorry". Post office, "You're not using ours, employees only!" The local gross, old dirty bar? Yup. It was a type of an oasis. I was able to take care of business in a dark, dank, cramped stall on a wobbly throne. Meanwhile, Myrtle got to play in their back parking lot in front of the liquor store, happy to be stretching her
We left Lantzville's watering hole and made it 2.3 km to their volunteer fire department. No one was there, but they had some bushes in the back that could use some "fertilizer", they were in luck and so was I.
Back in the car, I was unsure whether to drive home or to the camp. Not wanting to give up I continued the drive. Arriving at the camp I quickly visited the outhouse, and a few bushes. The pain level was above and beyond anything I have ever felt. I have had a car run over my right leg. My left foot with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns. Broken my left arm once and my right arm twice. Smashed my face on pavement in a roller blading accident. These did not compare.
|2006 Roller Blading Accident|
When we arrived at the campsite a woman was there with her twenty-something daughter. We explained that she was in our campsite. She reluctantly accepted the reality. As she drove away she drove over some of our luggage too, wrecking two suitcases and some the contents. I do think it was an accident.
Meanwhile, it felt like I was about to die and I actually thought I might. Perhaps I might write on that another time, the thought process. I called Sarah and Devon to let them know I was off to the hospital. I then called 9-1-1. All I remember was being impatient with the operator. After the call I lied down in the tent, then I went off to the bushes again. I remember thinking that I felt like how an animal might as they go alone into the forrest to die.
The next thing I remember is being in the ambulance and for a nanosecond I wondered if I was on an alien ship. I then recall talking to the paramedic about plasmacytoma. After that I remember Myrtle briefly being on top of me at the hospital.
When I really began to be awake I was moving from the gurney to the hospital bed. My "room" was just curtains and I could clearly hear my neighbors. One, a foul mouthed alcoholic, he left later in hand cuffs with the R.C.M.P. He was replaced by a female who tried to kill herself with pills. Other neighbors included someone hacking up their lungs behind an oxygen mask and a confused old lady with a broken pelvis. Between my new friends chatter and the blood pressure cuff on my bicep that went on automatically every 15 minutes I was wide awake.
When I saw that it was 11:25p.m. I was shocked at the unaccounted time lost. It seemed like moments ago I was setting up camp. My flip flops must've have flopped off, so a nurse gave me some booties.
After the the foul mouthed alcoholic left, Myrtle and Faith came to visit me until the doctor arrived. Myrtle did fantastic, as usual, especially considering she was not in a child proofed setting and in the middle of the night. I blew up some rubber gloves for her, those were a lot of fun, but not as mind blowing as a tissue box.
The doctor eventually came in and I had to explain plasmacytoma to him (you know it's a rare cancer when...). He was kind and explained things well, doing an equally thorough job checking all my vitals. After he left I was given a blood test and a take home stool sample kit.
I'll try to sum up what the doc said. We all have a vagus nerve that goes from the brian to our bowels or uterus. When there is extreme trauma to that area the nerve sends a signal to the brain to slow down the heart. That is done for self preservation, so that the brain has enough blood. The consequence can be knocking out the body unconscious, to reserve strength. And that is what happened to me. Also, I was dehydrated and malnourished.
When I trotted into the woods I collapsed. My trauma was the radiation's side effects. I don't recall very much so I've to asked Faith to write something, here's her version of those lost hours.
Ruban, Myrtle and I arrived at our campsite, #47. I should mention that where we parked our car was on a hill and our campsite was below us at the lakes shore, so we needed to keep an extra eye on Myrtle. We started unpacking our fully loaded vehicle, then setting up our tent and mattress. I asked Ruban if he would watch Myrtle so that I could let him rest and I would bring everything down to our camping spot.
Ruban then told me "No, I can't." He was in too much pain. For those of you who know Ruban, Myrtle means everything to him and he always does what he can to support me as her mother. So him saying no, I can't, really shows just how much pain he was in.
He then goes up to the car to grab his phone, Myrtle and I head up the hill to start the unpacking the rest of our car.
Ruban says to me, "We need to go home" bursting into tears because of the pain, "I 'm so sorry!" I told him not to worry about it. He apologized a couple of more times after that. I told him to stop saying sorry.
With Myrtle not able to walk down hills without support, I grabbed her and started packing up our car. Ruban then says to me, " I think I need to call the ambulance" I look at Ruban and give him a hug. Truly sensing just how serious his pain was.
I started rushing to pack the car. Ruban said that I didn't need to worry about everything that we would have someone come and pick up the rest of our stuff. I didn't know what to do. I didn't emotionally prepare myself for this moment.
Ruban then "trotted" back into the woods. After a few moments passed, I checked the time on his cell phone, 8:05pm. By now, Myrtle was getting hungry and needed a diaper change. As she's eating I hear this yell, I thought maybe it was Ruban, but it could also just be the other campers nearby. Not wanting to believe what might have happened.
I put Myrtle in her car-seat to breast feed and she soon fell asleep. I checked the time and it was now 8:25pm. Ruban still had not returned. I was worried.
One of the Horne Lake workers comes by with a clipboard, I thought that he was probably just looking to be paid or something.
I was wrong.
Finished feeding Myrtle, I come out of the car. The worker says to me, "Is everything ok?" I replied "Yes, I was just nursing my daughter."
He says, "There's an ambulance here."
In shock, what I said next didn't make sense. "My husband has cancer, plasmacytoma. He had to go to the bathroom. He had a bathroom attack."
I run over to the woods, calling for Ruban. No answer. I call him again. No answer. Now I'm scared and worried. Where is he? How are we going to find him?
A young girl comes out of a trail in the woods and asked me, "Are you looking for a tall guy?"
"About this big?" Showing his height stretching her arms high.
"He's sleeping and he's over there."
I almost didn't believe her. I ran to were she said.
I find Ruban on the ground in a fetal position. He looked dead. "Ruban! The ambulance is here!" He didn't respond or move. When I saw that his eyes were open I knew he was alive.
I ran to the ambulance and said that he can't get up.
The paramedics, came out and I ran over to Ruban. They were both female and Ruban probably had about 80 to 100 lbs on them. So how were they supposed to lift Ruban, I wondered. Not saying that females can't lift heavy objects, but Ruban's 6"3 and 205 lbs. At best of times, I can't get him to budge.
As the paramedics and the two Horne Lake workers attended to Ruban, I ran to the car to check on Myrtle. Feeling torn, I needed to be with Ruban to comfort him and I needed to watch Myrtle who is sleeping to keep her safe. I was by myself. I wasn't about to ask other campers who I didn't know or trust to watch my daughter. "What do I do?"
One of the Horne Lake workers, called me over and said that the paramedics needed some information. I ran over and answered some typical questions, like where we lived, etc.
When a paramedic was asking Ruban what his name was, he didn't answer. I said his name.
When I was asked where we lived, I said Victoria and then Ruban piped up saying "Langford." In between all of this I checked on Myrtle without leaving Ruban.
One paramedic went to get the stretcher. Meanwhile, Ruban all of a sudden sits up and then falls over. When the paramedic brings the stretcher over, they start getting Ruban ready to go on the stretcher. Ruban says to me "Let's go" meaning back home, I say "We can't, you need to be taken care of."
The paramedics ask the Horne Lake workers to help move Ruban onto the stretcher. They start strapping Ruban to the stretcher and he says "I don't know you" referring to the paramedics. I say to Ruban "It's okay, they are helping you. It's Faith." He started crying and said "I love you." I say "I love you too" and give him a kiss on the head.
As they start lifting Ruban up and he says "I want to go home." I tell him again that we can't and that he needs to get help. He replied that he wants to talk to Myrtle and that he's thirsty.
I run to get him some water and say to the paramedic, he's thirsty. But they don't give him any water.
Ruban's all ready to go to the hospital, he tells me once again that he loves me.
At this point I didn't know where to go. I catch up to the ambulance. Feeling scared and worried, wondering how would I find the Nanaimo hospital.
Once on the highway, the ambulance speeds up and I no longer see the flashing lights or hear the siren. I turned on my hazard lights so people would let me pass them letting them know that I was having an emergency.
One person went in front of me. Frustration came over me. "What the heck! What are they thinking?" I calmed down and say to myself, "Drive safe, Myrtle doesn't need two parents in the hospital."
I make it to the hospital. I went to the main entrance. LOCKED! I go to emergency entrance and I find Ruban. I ask how he's doing, the paramedic said that he came to in the ambulance. The paramedic then said "Ruban your wife is here." He didn't respond. I then said, "Ruban, Myrtle is here." He reaches out his hand to touch Myrtle.
He wants to hold Myrtle and tried to lift her up and says help me. I help him and Myrtle is on him. Myrtle cries and wants to come to me.
I later find out from Ruban that Myrtle saw someone behind him and it frightened her. Probably the yelling alcoholic man.
God works in mysterious ways. With last night's experience the weight of Ruban's diagnosis of plasmastoma finally really hit home with me. I truly feel that Heavenly Father put this diagnosis in our path to help Ruban and I. Last night, I felt as if Ruban and I were on the same page with a few comments he has made in the past. Before when Ruban stated those comments, I would just nod my head and give him a hug and try to offer some words of comfort. Not understanding the full weight of what he was saying. Without knowing it, I was VERY naive.
Since last night, my eyes were opened. Following the ambulance, I really felt the seriousness of Ruban's diagnosis. I prayed, "Please don't let him die, please don't let him die!" I then remembered one of Ruban's many wise words to speak in the positive. So I then prayed, " Please let him live." I was feeling what someone might be feeling with a death bed repentance. Once again I felt that life can change in seconds.
With this experience I am feeling the blessing of it. "It" being the unity with Ruban. Feeling that I now have a better understanding of Ruban and what he has and does feel with his journey.
With all of this said, maybe in my next prayer I'll ask, "If it's possible to find another way to help Ruban and I become closer, other than an ambulance and cancer, I will run to it with open arms."