在沒有任何預警之下, 白血病成了我人生的一部分. 對我來說, 是一個模糊的開始, 應該說這整件事在很模糊的情況下發生了.
有一天早上醒來, 我感到非常不舒服, 我以為是因為宿醉的關係(前晚跟朋友喝了好幾杯). 我試著吃點東西, 但卻感到更不舒服, 感到寒冷. 我走到陽台, 藉著陽光的溫暖來暖和我的虛弱, 當烏雲遮住陽光後, 我又感到一陣寒慄. 我回到房間休息, 用厚厚的棉被取暖, 小睡了幾個小時後, 覺得精神有好一點了.
之後去朋友家吃飯看電影,電影看到一半, 我開始不由自主的顫抖. 我跟朋友說不知道為什麼, 我真的很不舒服也覺得好冷, 我批上外套取暖, 但一點幫助也沒有, 我借朋友的衣服穿, 但還是不停的顫抖.
我開始發燒. 朋友給我退燒藥, 因為我沒辦法騎摩托車回去, 所以就在朋友家過了夜. 睡覺睡到半夜, 被後背的劇痛給痛醒, 當時我可以感到疼痛慢慢的從後脊椎骨擴散到全身. 因為當時還非常早, 所以我忍到我不能忍的地步後才去叫醒我朋友. 我們一起到附近的聯合醫院急診, 醫生說是扁條線發炎, 但還是幫我做抽血檢查.
我不懂為何要抽血, 如果只是扁條線發炎的話, 給我開藥和打完點滴就可以讓我回家啦. 不過, 當時我什麼都沒問 ,因為我實在是太不舒服了. 我躺在病床上打點滴, 過了一陣子, 護士又跑來幫我再抽了一次血, 我終於問了為什麼, 結果她只回答 : 我們需要再做一次檢查! 就這樣, 我被敷衍了過去.
過了一會, 醫生拿著我第二次的抽血報告, 表情有點沉重的告知因為他們的設備不齊全, 而我的抽血報告看起來很異常, 所以我應該要去大醫院再做抽血檢查, 他們建議我馬上去, 停了點滴, 我便往下個醫院移動.
我完全不知道要去哪間醫院, 所以我打給媽問了她的意見, 她提到爸爸之前待過的醫院. 事實上, 她對其他醫院也不熟, 就這樣, 我去了她講的那家醫院. 到了急診室後, 簡直就是人山人海, 在輪到給醫生會診之前, 等候的時間就像一世紀一樣漫長. 還在發燒又全身痠痛及不斷顫抖的我, 疼痛也不斷的折磨我 (也許我只等了十五分, 不過感覺像一小時似的). 終於輪到我後, 我拿之前的抽血報告給醫生看, 他二話不說又讓我再做一次抽血報告, 在等報告的期間, 我人就躺在急診室人來人往的走廊上打著退燒點滴.
我不記得當時的所有實際情況, 不過我記得我躺在病床上, 記得朋友擔憂的臉, 記得護士們不停地過來替我抽血, 而我就像一塊肉一樣, 任他們把針頭插進任何有血管的地方, 不擇手段的, 不斷地把我血抽乾! 我當時意識不完全清楚, 因為發燒的關係, 當我詢問為何又要抽血時, 護士們總是含糊不清又簡短的說些醫學術語, 抽完人就走了!
不知道過了多久, 醫護人員叫我打給家人請他們過來, 因為我需要做更多檢查, 所以要住院幾天. 我打給媽, 跟她說用最快的時間上來台北, 我也打給了我的好朋友梅根, 請她幫我帶些衣物到醫院, 而最初陪我到急診室的朋友待到我身邊陪我直到梅根抵達醫院後才離開.
當梅根問我發生什麼事時, 我沒辦法回答, 因為我自己也不知道. 我媽三個小時後抵達醫院, 醫生和我媽在診療室談話, 之後我媽跟我說醫生目前不知道病因, 不過他們懷疑有可能是肺炎或愛滋病, 因為我的血球數量非常低, 免疫系統異常 (試著想像當我媽聽到愛滋病這三個字的慌張及擔憂!).
我跟媽說我很餓, 一整天都沒吃什麼東西, 她跑去問醫生我可不可以進食. 二十分鐘過後, 她從外面買回了一碗魚稀飯 (忘了什麼魚). 吃完稀飯過了十分鐘後, 我開始腹部絞痛, 從那時開始, 我之後的一整個禮拜完全不能吃任何食物.
在急診室的期間, 時間對我來說不重要. 在把我轉移到樓上病房前, 他們把我從走廊移到急診室裡有著許多人的大病房. 我躺在那痛苦的等待著, 突然有一群人往我方向走來, 一個資深的醫生和其他實習醫生. 七,八個人圍繞著我的病床, 資深的醫生站在我右手邊, 一邊問著我問題, 一邊檢查我的皮膚和口腔.
他問我刷牙時牙齦有沒有常流血 ? 常會有莫名的瘀青嗎 ? 瘀青是不是不容易消失 ? 我有骨頭痛的徵兆嗎 ? 我常容易感到疲倦嗎 ?
"你是我的主治醫生嗎 ?" 我問他.
"還不知道會不會是我. 有可能是, 有可能不是 !" 他回答我.
我不懂為何他那樣回答, 難道不是因為看了我的血液報告而下樓到急診室幫我診斷的嗎 ? 如果不是要接我的病例, 那為何是他來問我問題呢 ? 我當時很納悶, 對於醫生們接病例的決定權是在於誰呢 ? 是以什麼為標準呢 ?
我的癌症經歷是從急診室開始的, 當我在寫下這些話時, 我體會到我還是沒辦法很平靜的回想當時的情景, 情緒變得有點脆弱. 但是, 我想這是一個好的開始, 一個讓我可以面對內心恐懼的開始, 而我也可以開始學會放開!
Leukemia came to me without any warming. The beginning was like a blur, or I should say that the whole thing was like a blur to me.
One day, I woke up and didn’t feel too good. I thought it was because of the hangover (I had quite a few drinks with friends the night before). I tried to eat some food, but it wasn’t a good idea, it made me feel sicker afterwards. I felt cold, so I went out to the deck to get some sun. I felt a bit better under the sun, but when the sun went away, I got cold again and went back to try to get some rest. I woke up from my nap, and I felt better.
I went over to a friend’s house to eat and watch a movie. In the middle of the movie, I started to shiver without control. I said to my friend that I didn't know what’s going on, and I felt awful and super cold. I put on my jacket, it didn’t help; I put more clothes on, but I still couldn’t repress the shivering.
The fever started. I took the medicine, stayed over at my friend’s place because I wasn’t able to ride a scooter. I woke up in the middle of the night because I had pain from my lower back. I felt the aching spread from one area to my whole body. I didn’t want to wake my friend up because it was still really early, so I lied there wide awake until I could no longer handle the pain. I woke my friend up. We went to the nearest hospital for an emergency. The doctor examined me, and he said it looked like an inflammation of the flat line. They gave me a blood test. I didn’t know what was the blood test for if it was just a throat infection, but I was in too much pain to ask anything. They put me on a drip for my fever, a while later, a nurse came for my second blood test, and I was confused. I asked why, she said they needed to do the test again. That’s it. That’s all she said. That totally answered my question!
Anyway, the doctor came with my second blood test result. He looked concern. He told me I should go to a bigger hospital and have more check-ups. The blood test was abnormal. They stopped my IV drip and off they sent me. My friend and I took a cab, I had no idea which hospital I should go, so I called my mom and asked for her opinion. She talked about the hospital that my father went for a period of time. She knows about that hospital more than other ones. I went there as I was told. I arrived and it was full of people in the emergency room. However, the wait to be treated was killing me. I still had my fever, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I had pain all over my body. Maybe I was waiting for about 10 minutes before I saw the doctor, but it felt like an hour.
Anyway, I showed my last blood test to the doctor, and then he asked me to take another blood test. They put me on a drip while I awaited for the test result.
I couldn’t remember the exact situation, but I remembered that I was lying there, my friend looks worried, and the nurses kept coming for more blood. I didn’t have a clear head, maybe half-conscious, but I felt like a piece of meat. They just stuck needles in my arms whenever and wherever they needed to, (It was more than seven times! I said this because I stopped counting after the seventh time), and mumbled about the purpose and then took off!
I made a phone call to my mother again because they told me that I needed to stay in the hospital for few nights for more check-ups. I asked my mother to come as soon as she could (She doesn’t live in Taipei, so it took her few hours to come). I made another phone call to my closest friend Meghan, asked her to bring my clothes and things. My friend stayed with me until Meghan arrived.
I couldn’t explain what happened to me when Meghan asked because I didn’t know what was going on, either. My mother arrived; the doctor talked to her, told her that they didn't know the exact reason, but they suspected it could be pneumonia or AIDS, because my blood cell numbers are super low (Imagine how worried and frighten it was for my mom when she heard AIDS)
I told my mother that I was hungry, so she went to ask the doctor if I was allowed to eat. She came back with a porridge that she brought from a shop, and I had an awful colic after I ate the food. Since then, I didn’t and couldn’t eat for a whole week.
I lost track of time when I was in the emergency room while waiting for an available ward. I didn’t know how long it has been, but suddenly, I saw many doctors walked towards me. There were seven or eight of them stood around the bed I was lying on, and I knew that some of them were interns. A doctor on my right-hand side was checking my skin and mouth, at the same time, he asked questions like – “Do you often have bruise?" "Does it disappear slowly?” “Do you often have a bleeding gum when you brush your teeth?” “Do you have bone ache?" "Do you get tired easily?”
“Are you the doctor who is in charge of my case?” I asked him.
“I don’t know it yet. Maybe it will be me, maybe not.” He answered.
I didn’t understand why he said that. Why was he there if he wasn’t the doctor for the case? He must have seen the blood test. Wasn’t that the reason why he came down to check on me? I wondered how doctors decide if they want the case or not.
Anyway, in the end, he became my doctor.
This was how my cancer experience began. As I was writing this, I realized that it’s still emotional for me to recall that part of my life. However, I think it’s a start for me, a start to let go of my fear by face it!