Leukemia, a Survivor's Perspective

Leukemia, a Survivor’s Perspective
Blood disorders that can kill you are things that most people don’t think about, nor are they illnesses
that clearly manifest themselves. In my case, I noticed a certain shortness of breath and a lack of energy.
Of course I didn’t think much of it; for 57 years I’ve been healthy with no hint of problem. But it was
time for an annual checkup. There were no apparent problems while I was at the doctor’s office, but
then later that day, about 6pm, the doctor called. My wife took the call; I was outside cutting the grass.
She came outside with an alarmed look on her face and gave me the phone. The doctor proceeded to
explain that my hemoglobin level came back at 6.5, which is dangerously low and I needed to get to an
emergency room as soon as possible. I almost thought it was a joke. I didn’t know anything about blood
counts, what hemoglobin is for, and telling me that I was in imminent danger of a heart attack seemed a
bit much. I thought, well I’ll finish the grass and then maybe go see about visiting the hospital. My wife
was luckily much more concerned. I did finish he grass and then get cleaned up a bit. We drove down to
the nearest hospital emergency room, a great way to spend Friday night.
Even though they were busy, we didn’t wait too long. Our story about the doctor’s concerns and a 6.5
hemoglobin reading apparently convinced them to move quickly (which surprised and somewhat
alarmed me). I was starting to feel like maybe I should take this a little more seriously. After getting
hustled back to a bed in ER they took a blood sample. By the way, I’ve always hated giving blood; I get
light-headed and frequently have to lie down. A doctor came back shortly confirming the hemoglobin
issue and told me that I’d be receiving several units of blood. Not only that, but they would be checking
me in to work on determining why it was so low. That was a shock. I never expected to end up spending
the night in the...