Two nurses help a patient in bed, her heart glows

It’s The ‘tude That Counts

I am now living with blood cancer and undergoing infusions with all the joys that treatment brings. A few days after my first infusion my white blood count went to zero. My oncologist was not happy as I apparently overreacted to the treatment protocol. After passing out at home in the morning, it was suggested I come in for a saline infusion. That quick visit to the infusion center quickly turned into an ambulance ride to the hospital followed by a week-long stay in quarantine along with a rather invasive treatment for an impacted bowel.

During my “hell week” the night nurse stopped in at 11 PM and said: “I know this is all new for you but I want to offer you a glimpse of a possible future”. The thing with chemo treatments she noted is at first you really do not understand what is going on but in time every patient develops a way to deal with it. She said: “it is all about your ‘tude and how you choose to handle things going forward.

Some advice from my evening nurse

According to my new best friend, patients learn what to expect and how to adjust and prepare themselves for treatment. The same thing happens when it comes to diet. Loss of taste is very common with chemo and suddenly food can lose all appeal. Again she noted a ‘tude adjustment can help most patients discover some favorite food or foods that will appeal to them throughout the treatment.

At that point in my battle, I had lost significant weight. I went from 176 lbs to 148 lbs in just 30 days. Food had no appeal and a few bites filled me up. The nurse cautioned me not to consume useless calories but to focus on protein, fruits, and vegetables. While my evening chat with her was a nice break from the isolation of quarantine, in the back of my mind her message was not sinking in. At best I was being a polite patient who only wanted to go home and crawl into a corner.

Over the next few weeks, her words took on more meaning. By the second infusion, I was a bit more prepared. By treatment number three, I had developed a few approaches to avoid being hospitalized due to chemo-induced bowel blockages. Treatment number four passed without incident and as I looked back it became clear that I had indeed changed many things in my life, from the way I was eating to the volume of liquids I needed to consume.

"You may find this useful..."

As of this writing, my weight has increased by more than 17lbs. While the loss of taste is still there, I discovered that heavily seasoned foods including dishes that used tomato sauce offered a sense of taste. I discovered (at least for me perhaps not you ) adding electrolyte tablets to several of my six 16-ounce daily bottles of water helped prevent dizzy spells and more. In the end, my evening nurse had some pretty good suggestions, it just took time for me to accept her advice.

As she left my room that evening she handed me a small card saying: “you may find this useful as you continue your journey with blood cancer”. To be honest I almost lost it when I read the message. It is now posted in our kitchen and read every day. I have no idea who the author was or where it came from – in any case I hope you enjoy the message and share as you see fit.

Four Candles
The Four Candles burned
slowly. Their Ambiance was so
soft you could hear them
speak…

The First Candle said,
“I Am Peace, but these days, nobody
wants to keep me lit.” Then
Peace’s flame slowly
diminishes and goes out
completely.

The Second Candle said,
“I Am Faith, but these days, I am no
longer indispensable.” Then
Faith’s flame slowly
diminishes and goes out
completely.

Sadly The Third Candle Speaks,
“I Am Love and I haven’t the
strength to stay lit any
longer. People put me aside
and don’t understand my
importance. They even forget
to love those who are nearest
to them.” Waiting no longer,
Love goes out completely.

Suddenly... A child enters the
room and sees the three
candles no longer burning. The
child begins to cry, “Why are
you not burning? You are
supposed to stay lit until the
end!”

Then The Fourth Candle speaks
gently to the little child,
“Don’t be afraid, for I Am
Hope, and while I still burn,
we can re-light the other
candles.”

With Shining Eyes the child
took the Candle Of Hope and
lit the other three candles.
Never let the Flame Of Hope go
out of your life. With Hope,
no matter how bad things look
and are... Peace, Faith and
Love can Shine Brightly in our
lives.

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