Shifting Gears: A Different View – Part 1

Here we are, five days away from the RealTime Cancer Climb and it is my desire to give you a little caption inside the making of this event. I tell the story all the time, especially in the weeks prior to the Climb, but not always this side of things.

The timeline goes like this so you can get a grasp… we are back in July of 1999 it’s very early on a Sunday morning – the 25th at 3 a.m. – and I wake with the “rygers” (the shakes) and a temp of just over 38 C.

– I hit the ER very very shortly after waking and spend the next 5 hours in some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Very poor pain-management in the ER that morning.
– 8:45 a.m. I see a Doctor, now hooked to a heart monitor, and beg for some pain-killers. He agrees and gives me “three shots of morphine.”
– My memory stops here, but so many major life events happen in the days and weeks that follow.

– That same Sunday I am transported to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as my fever continues to rise.
– On Monday I’m moved up to 4 North A as I appear to be making progress… Tuesday morning I would turn around and need to be moved back to the ICU where I would stay for about the next month.
– The week of July 26th, 1999 I continued to loose ground, went from needing oxygen, to a pressurized oxygen mask to finally having my Doctors recommend that life-support may be the best option. It is a major hurdle to cross as most Patients in my situation (Leukemia diagnosis and Bone Marrow Transplant) don’t come off life-support successfully.
– Acknowledging that fact I planned my funeral with my parents and gave them instructions for my will. I am amazed to hear the stories of how detailed I was in this process, despite having to pull the oxygen mask away from my face for each sentence. I was very tired at this point and nearing ready to rest.

– Friday, July 30th, 1999 – my Docs recommend “intubation” (i.e. placing me on life-support)
– 7:45 p.m. that evening I’m intubated.
– Very uncomfortable, and struggling to breathe with the machine and relax. My dad and brother have to restrain my arms and legs in attempts to calm me down… after several hours my dad asks me “Geoff have you had enough?” I couldn’t talk with the tube, so he passed me a piece of paper and a pencil with which I wrote two scratchy words… “not yet.”
– Shortly after the docs began to sedate me (i.e. put me to sleep with lots of drugs) in what’s called a “drug-induced coma.”
– And that is how I stayed for 3 1/2 weeks.

– Sunday, August 1st, 1999 – “Significant Sunday”
– This is the day that seemed to stand out in everyone’s mind the most as it’s the one I’ve heard the most stories about. It was the day that you have heard about with many who have been very sick… my family was called to the hospital, my docs explained the situation and that “it could be any hour now.” My Docs refused to discuss the possibility that I might get better at this point… there was only discussion about the next hour and if I made it through that then the following hour could be considered.
– A major collection of other obstacles were thrown my way, but one by one they were tackled.
– My uncle may have described Significant Sunday the best “Geoff gate to the gates of Heaven, had a look in, saw there was no hockey being played, so he turned around and came back.”

– Monday, August 23rd, 1999 – “Eyes Open – Memory Returns”
– After 3 1/2 weeks of ups and downs, Challenges and triumphs I wake from my coma for good as I’m weaned off the sedating drugs.
– Major Challenges ahead – have no muscle, no strength to do anything except breathe, which is no small feat – perhaps my greatest feat ever truth be told. Muscles degenerate to help give the body energy to fight the infections I had while sleeping. Rebuilding required.

The second part of this detailed list of bullets will follow very shortly.

Always…
Live life. Love life.

Geoff

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