Plasma Exchange: That Time I Became a Blanket Burrito

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Plasma Exchange, but not to worry, your update is here!

Plasma Exchange has been helping me since we’ve taken a more aggressive approach. It’s been tough though, my appointments have been getting cancelled or rebooked with little to no notice. It’s understandable, because there are many people in worse condition than I am in who need access to treatment, but of course I too want access to what will give me my life back. At the very least, at least access to treatment is based on medical priority needs rather than who has the biggest cheque book. In an ideal world, we’d all get the treatment we need, but we currently don’t reside in that version of reality.

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My back to back treatments a few weeks ago were tough, but I made it through them! I am superwoman! By the end of the tough week of treatment, I was quiet, I was drained and not quite myself. I was exhausted, treatment took a lot of out me, but it was worth it. I temporarily retired and became a blanket burrito.
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Last week, I did one treatment instead of the three I was intended to do. That was alright though, because I started to really see a vast improvement after that treatment session. Speaking of seeing… Let’s just say that I went into treatment that day with dark sunglasses and a hat on looking like I was hungover. In fact, I felt like I was hungover, you know, minus the fun drinking and partying part the night before. Migraines are hell. Absolute hell.

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I really can’t explain why I was smiling in this photo, considering that I felt like death. Anyway, treatment started and my blood was thick and would barely flow. Do you know what that means? I needed a whole lot of Citrate, an anti-coagulant to “thin” my blood. Citrate is solely what gives me side effects during Plasma Exchange – and that’s me using it at my usual dosage. They pumped a whole lot of citrate into my blood and things went downhill from there.

Normally during treatment, I’m talkative. I mean non stop talkative. If there’s no one up for a conversation, then I’m texting on my phone, while watching a video and browsing Twitter. I’m a pretty upbeat and enthusiastic person, even when I’m getting my blood drained into a machine. So with the added citrate, let’s just say that I was dead silent, and my links to technology were taken away from me to avoid them being covered in vomit. I couldn’t move. I didn’t even have the strength to open my eyes. We had to constantly just completely STOP treatment because my body just couldn’t handle it. It was hell. I had to push myself through it. Meditation was my only coping tool. Now I’ve been through a lot since I’ve gotten sick, but that was one of my worst days of health ever. I made it through treatment though. I am still superwoman! Here’s me with my puke bin, in a wheelchair outside of the hospital. I couldn’t even manage to open my eyes, I’m not sure how this photo was taken. I’m not sure why I was smiling either.

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You’d think that the treatment was the worst of it… but you are very wrong. Things got worse and worse after we left the hospital. When I got home from the hospital, I sat my ass down on the couch and that’s where I spent the night. ¬†My tachycardia was out of control. My migraine escalated to the point where I had to tie a bandana tightly around my head as a blindfold to keep out light and reduce the unbearable amount of pressure in my head. This was on top of the fact that I was already wearing sunglasses and had my hat pulled over my eyes. It was ugly. Well, I’d presume it was ugly, but I can’t say for sure because I couldn’t see! (Too soon to joke about this?) I even napped… I never nap. It was a true sign that I was just not doing well. My vitals, as you can see, reflects that. FYI, that was my RESTING heart rate after I had been laying down for quite a long time.
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I made it through the side effects though, like I always do! It’s never really a matter of “if” I’ll make it through these side effects or whatever else I face, but rather a matter of “when.” Bad things do happen, but they surely cannot stop me. I am confident of this. I’ve learned that I must take things day by day. And if that is still too much, I must take things hour by hour, or in this case, minute by minute. I am genuinely convinced that I am unstoppable, which might sound strange given the fact that I live in a self destructing body. To me, the fact that I do live in a self destructing body but yet I’ve come this far is the reason that I feel invincible.

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I am now doing better. The heat makes things a bit more difficult, it definitely makes me tachycardic. However, without Plasma Exchange, I’d be a lot more worse than just facing tachycardia. I’d be exhausted and unable to move – but that wasn’t the case! I did my mom’s hair and makeup for a wedding. I managed to walk around a Walmart Supercenter, which was a huge deal! I used a wheelchair when I went to Lowes following the Walmart trip, but that was because I just didn’t want to push myself. I could have walked if I really wanted to and really tried, but it seemed unreasonable to expect so much out of myself when you factor in the hot weather.
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I was only able to complete one of my two rounds of treatments this week, due to a cancellation. I wish that our Conservative federal government would stop reducing health care funding blocks. Nurses are being fired across Ontario, despite the fact that there’s a nurse shortage and a growing demand for healthcare. This nurse shortage is clearly impacting me directly. Plasma Exchange¬†went well this week, sort of. It was no where as bad as last week, at the very least.

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My doctors are still considering chemotherapy, but I truly think that Plasma Exchange is my best option given my recent improvement. I feel like if I was able to do treatment as frequently as I require, I’d be in even better shape. I intend to turn down chemotherapy for now. I love Plasma Exchange and am thankful that I am able to access this treatment, even if there are roadblocks along the way.

 

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