Posted by Chad Warren at 11:21 PM
Today I was admitted to cardiac care at VGH where I have already spent time earlier this year (haven't got there yet but it was a doozy). Things aren't mending on their own so action is being taken. Three teams of doctors are now following me including cardiologists, kidney specialists and my BMT doctors. I'm grateful to our system and the care I continue to receive. My head space is clear and I'm laying comfortable....except for my ass from being on it the past week. Of course there is a million places I'd rather be than in another hospital bed but i know what I need to do in order for that to happen. I'm not bitter, not sad- just bound and determined to live out my dreams. Meg came by tonight with my things, some snacks and the computer so we got to hang out and relax. She looks more at ease- I think she's relieved that I'm here and people are monitoring me. It's been sketchy at home with my health so erratic, she's been taking care of me non stop and vigilant watching me through the night - has to be exhausting. I'm tired now and have much writing to do tomorrow......................good night
Posted by Chad Warren at 11:21 PM
Tennis has played a huge role in my life. It's given me some of my closest friends, paid for my university, given me work not to mention so many memories.....and most importantly it gave me Megan. My favorite childhood memories are of summers spent at the LethbridgeTennis Club- a small 6 court facility that was right down the alley from my house. The club was set across from Henderson Lake and in behind the baseball stadium that was the home of our LA (LethbridgeAlberta)Dodgers....beautiful setting. I'd get there early in the morning to play with the seniors, about 7am- and be there sometimes past midnight playing late night games under the lights with the club pro and his friends. I did that from the age of 10 till I moved to Vancouver at 15.....so much freedom. I can remember my mother screaming at me from across the park leading up to the courts to come home for lunch ...or bed depending on the time of day. When I arrived in Vancouver it wasn't long before I began to pal around with the other guys in my age group playing the local junior circuit. A group of us became close friends and travelled to all the tournaments together terrorizing the streets from here to Montreal. We all went on to get scholarships to play in the states. We stay in touch but everyone is spread out around the world Jesse in Louisiana, James C in Montreal, James G in New York, Justin in Australia. I'm really proud of these guys and miss not having them around.
University was a whole new experience and I savored every moment of it. I'd taken a year off after high school to write my SAT's and apply to universities. There are so many in the states and I was down to talking to two or three so I looked on the map and picked the furthest one from home where I knew it would be warm. This is where the dislike for tennis began - somewhere in that year off I'd lost my confidence on the court and it didn't help that the coach I had signed with quit a week before school started. I wasn't happy with my on court performance through out college but I loved practicing out in the sun and we had a blast travelling all over the southern states. I certainly enjoyed the benefits of being a student athlete in the states and exploited it to the maximum. I have many close friends from university and have reunited with team mates over the years although most now live back in there native lands. We had guys from Sweden, Argentina, France, Holland and two Canadians. My friend Jesse joined me at university my second year and it was really cool to have a close friend share that experience and he really helped me to stay on track with tennis and school. Jesse ended up staying down there to do his masters and married a sweet southern belle - they now have two beautiful girls.
I'm laying back at home listening to the Styx an album my buddy JJbrought over months ago...love it. JJ and his wife Cezanne just had their second child yesterday, a little girl ....congrats to them.
So I left off just having heard that it seemed my time had run out, I had to have another bone marrow biopsy to confirm what exactly the situation was. They are quite unpleasant especially when feeling unwell. They stick a large needle in to the top of your hip, deep into the core to extract a sliver of bone marrow that they can test to see what the cancer is doing. It takes all the docs strength to drive that thing in there and your breath away once there in. I've had so many over the years and they still get me clammy. It would be a week of me waiting for confirmation...i don't even remember my frame of mind anymore as i think i went numb. I finally get the call and would you believe there was a third option...just a viral infection,all was fine- just a set back. I love my doctor, he has kept me alive for all these years going above and beyond with me as he does with all his patients. I'd do anything for him but it also opened my eyes to the fact they don't have all the answers. This is new territory for them also. I was one of the youngest people in Canada to be diagnosed with this disease and it seems to be really aggressive and unpredictable with us young folk.
Over the next several months I continued recovering, rehabbing my body slowly starting with a few push ups once per week soon incorporating total body exercises with some light dumbbells I had at home. I did some light walking and around Christmas I started back at the gym doing what I could. I was determined to be strong and healthy again and I trained like my life depended on it...!!? I was so intense, never spoke to anyone and I remember getting emotional almost every workout. The problem was my body couldn't handle what I was doing to it so I was always getting sick and having to start over. It was trying to recover and accept the new bone marrow and I'm making it repair and grow muscle. I was young and learning moderation would take time and lots of trial and error. I would never be the same after the transplant, it took a piece of me but I have high expectations for myself and I'm never satisfied. Looking back I'd give anything to feel the way I did after that first transplant.
About six months post transplant I began working a few hours a week back coaching tennis which proved vital for me to get out and begin coming alive again. I assisted with the competitive junior groups back at the NSWC where I had been before. We had all the best juniors in the province which made it fun and I began hitting in with them. Even before I got sick I hadn't really played tennis with any focus in years, even during college I had lost my love for it and did what I could to keep my scholarship but nothing more. I was pretty rusty but focused on improving. I probably neglected the kids at times but it made me a better coach being so passionate about getting better and I could transfer that to them. It felt good interacting with the kids and I began really enjoying tennis again.
Posted by Chad Warren at 1:24 PM
As the summer of 2001 went on the more free i became- like I had detached from the world floating away like balloon boy. I hadn't a care in the world but riding my bike and when the next joint would be lit. Katharine and I took off to my favorite place in BC...Penticton for 3 or 4 days of even more chillen. We rented one of those semi detached cabins near SkaHa Lake and got into our routine; little breakfast , light workout, stroll to the beach puffing on a doob. Later on we hit up one of P town's many attractions....batting cages, go carts, beach bikes..love it all! Then out of the blue while laying onSkaha beach my phone rang and on the other end was the lady from the bone marrow transplant program telling me they had found a donor and I was to be admitted on Aug 8 to begin radiation, chemotherapy and my transplant would be Aug 15th. It's funny it never even crossed my mind that they might not find a donor which is the case for too many people. I don't think I was thinking period. In that moment everything changed again, I was thinking and going to have to deal with this-it's really happening...it wasn't a dream.
As much as I tried to continue the endless summer it wasn't the same. In a few short weeks I was about to get very sick, maybe even die. Those who have been through these sorts of things know what I'm talking about when I say they lay it all out for you. You have to do test after test, interviews with doctors feeding you every stat available. I suppose it's protocol but how many times do you need to tell someone the mortality rate of their procedure or disease. I know I'm sick just tell me about the people who survive and are living a normal life....THAT'S ALL ANYONE WANTS TO HEAR! I was scared, worried about Katharine and entering unknown territory.
In the morning just before I was admitted Katharine's dad and my friend Brian (also Jay's father) booked me a private flying lesson out in Ladner. I had spent a fair amount of time with Brian riding motorcycles all over the city and enjoyed being around him. Anyway there I was flying over the city in this tiny little plane...i'll never forget it but it was hard to fully enjoy it knowing in a few hours I was facing hell. Not more than an hour after we landed I walked through the doors of VGH where I was to spend the next month. I started by receiving total body radiation twice a day for three days...a strange experience cause the effects of that shit is irreversible. It alone reduced my lung capacity to 70% at best to this day. The next three days I received lethal dose chemotherapy which means they give you the max amount of chemo your body can handle without killing you. The combination brings all your counts to zero so you have no blood cells or immune system to fight the donor marrow. *Bone marrow is responsible for manufacturing our blood cells. The next day I had my transplant which is anticlimatic to say the least. I believe my donor is from somewhere in Europe but that's all i know. We were allowed to exchange letters a year after my transplant but then I never heard back...i'll try again one day but that's another story.
The transplant happened at midnight while Katharine and my mom played cards in the other room. A doctor and nurse monitored me while they hung what looked like a bag of blood (the donor bone marrow) as it dripped in over an hour through the hicman line they had inserted in my chest when I was admitted. They're a pain but necessary when receiving so many different meds because they have three lines. My stay in the hospital was a real challenge, I was new to this world not ever having stayed in hospital before. As days passed the chemo and radiation began to take their affects and i became weaker and weaker. The staff was amazing as was my support group but you have to dig deep and stay strong. I busted out of there in 31 days and spent the next several months going to and from the VGH BMT day clinic. I'd lost 30lbs and couldn't do a push up not to mention had no blood counts but I was so eager to ride a motorcycle on my first day out I borrowed Brian's harley and managed to ride it to the clinic that day for my treatment. The nurses/doctors weren't impressed but I was happy ripping down the highway at full throttle....now I was in control. Katharine was amazing through it all and we had a lot of support but all I needed was rest. There were some scares early on the most noteworthy happened about a month after I got out. I became unwell and my counts began crashing back down to zero. I got the call and my doc told me it was one of two things the transplant had failed or the cancer had come back either way I was done.........
Posted by Chad Warren at 6:01 PM
My sister Jen and her husband Bill came to town with the kids this weekend for some Vancouver Halloween action. My niece Lauren is 8 and my nephew Ben is 6. I've been excited for them to come as I don't see them much since they live in Edmonton. I was feeling disappointed that they came all this way and I wouldn't get to see them but I rested up yesterday picked up some fireworks and Meg and I made our way over to the parentals where all were gathered for the evening festivities. A block away from my parents a whole street of houses put on a Halloween block party, it was very impressive with hundreds of people milling about trick or treating. My niece and nephew thought it was the greatest and maybe I did to. I then proceeded with my humble fireworks show which turned into a huge laugh as everyone stood on the back deck with me just below lighting these unpredictable mini cannons off. The area we were in is very small and these things are going off at eye level to the family who were in hysterics evertytime one went array sending us all scampering for cover. My mother was laughing so hard she tryed to go inside and walked straight into the closed sliding glass door head first and kept laughing hysterically...she is the greatest.
Unfortunately things turned quickly as soon as Meg and I got in the car to leave my heart began to beat out of control. I was still breathing ok but it was jumping out of my chest making me very uncomfortable. We made it home and I layed on the bed put the heart rate monitor on trying to relax in hopes it might settle. My heart rate was fluctuating between 145 to 200 beats per minute and it wasn't settling. We called 911 and off I went for the second time in three days bouncing around in the back of the ambulance answering the same fucking questions i've been answering for years. They got me in quick for which I'm grateful but for 2 hours my heart rate jumped around sometimes over 200 beats per minute never below 150. I couldn't lay down cause fluid in my body had been building surrounding my heart and lungs so I couldn't breathe. I sat on the edge of the gurney with my legs dangling trying to find comfort...it was so exhausting. I could hear the nurses and doctors discussing what to do while I guided them on my history as best I could. They seemed eager to shock my heart into a better rhythm but I didn't think it was safe so they tryed various meds to slow things down. Finally after four hours the meds began to settle things enough that I was more comfortable. I was so thirsty and they couldn't give me any fluids till things calmed down in case they had to use the "shock pads". Really I think they just wanted to try those things out cause that's all they kept talking about. Let's watch him fry cause i'm bored-I suppose if I worked there that would be entertaining. They did a good job and they finally brought me the best apple juice I've ever had and I could finally lay down.
They let me go this morning although my heart rate is still high at 120 but tomorrow I will be in touch with my doctor who will set up my new plan of action. Again I'm just happy to be home and around Megan. My situation is putting so much stress on her as my main caregiver so I will find away to make it easier. She does so much for me and I'm putting her through hell, I'm glad she is out enjoying the sunshine.
Posted by Chad Warren at 2:23 PM
I don't even know where to begin this...being sick is such a selfish thing and I've had a hard time dealing with that side of it. I hold a lot of guilt because I've had to miss some of my best friends weddings, births of their children and various other major events because I haven't been well enough. I'm so tired of that bullshit excuse and I think at some point I began to withdraw myself from people because I didn't want to disappoint them anymore. I think at times I can look quite well to the outside world but looks are deceiving. There have been stages in the past 9 years where I've had some treatments give me a better way of life especially early on but the past 3 or 4 years have been rocky. It's hard cause as time goes on people have families, advance in their careers and all I can say is that I'm still fighting cancer, still waiting to start my life. Don't get me wrong I worked up till a year ago and did what I could to advance myself and was very grateful to have a forgiving workplace. But I didn't have the energy to fully commit cause I needed to use that energy to fight.
Anyway I'm really grateful to all my friends from growing up inLethbridge, to West Van High, my North Van gals, my Louisiana life(my home away from home), the NSWC and my Hollyburn peers. I've learned so much from you and you've given me so much support. I really appreciate you all and the laughs we have shared.....so many laughs. That's what I enjoy about facebook you can keep up with everyone from as far back as you remember, see their children, wedding photos, everything they're willing to share is available for viewing. I guess I just want people to know I'm thinking of them on their special days and I often reflect on our times together...cause I got time to think....cause that's what I do! Just cause you don't hear from me doesn't me I don't care and that I don't tell Megan all our crazy stories. Looking forward to new stories and more laughs. Until we meet again......
Posted by Chad Warren at 2:29 PM
Before I continue I'm happy to say I'm at home now thanks to my amazing Doctors (who have become more like friends)who understand I've spent enough time in hospital so as long as I can manage, home is where I need to be.
...Once my mother gathered herself from hearing the news- did I mention she started passing out and had to lay down in the doctors office while I paced around. It was really funny actually and we've shared a laugh about that a few times but I'll get to my mother later. Looking back I should have known something was up as our appointment time was noon and there was no one in the doctor's office not even staff. Guess they thought we might cause a scene and shoot the place up! I remember the first thing that filled my mind once being diagnosed was how will I tell Katharine, who is mourning the loss of her brother, that I now have cancer. You can imagine how that went but she was tough and we embarked on this new adventure. I'm not sure I can put into words the feelings that came over me in the following few days and weeks but maybe the closest thing would be.... euphoria !?
Within a few hours of being diagnosed with a disease that usually hits people over sixty I began treatment. Blood cancers are very complicated and to this day I don't understand half the terminology but multiple myeloma effects cells in the bone marrow weakening the bones, immune system and so on. In the next few days I would be sent to the specialists at the VGH Bone Marrow Transplant Unit where I've spent much of my time since being diagnosed. Due to my weakened condition they immediately started me on high dose steroids and a bone strengthener and it was also decided my best chance at extended life was a bone marrow transplant....hunh! How they do that cut into every bone and shoot marrow into you?!-which is what i thought. I was put on a worldwide list and the search began as did my euphoric summer.
I wasn't unable to continue work which had been getting tougher for me the months leading up. I had bone pain throughout my rib cage to the point where I was breaking ribs while playing tennis and unable to sleep from being in too much pain. I had bouts of pneamonia and was coming apart at the seams but I still went to the gym the morning of my diagnosis. I was lucky all my debts were insured and I didn't have to pay them while I was sick. I collected unemployement and had family close who helped out when needed. My life became about one thing enjoying every moment and that's what i began to do. Those steroids made me feel better fast but it's not real they actually weaken you, make you crazy and really really hungry. Each day i'd wake up early, take my steroids, take Katharine to work then start my day. The summer of 2001 was particularely hot and I enjoyed every moment of it. I'd usually wake one of my friends up to have breakfast then either have a light workout or play par 3 golf. The afternoons would always be saved for long motorcycle rides and waiting for Katharine to get off work so we could begin the evening festivities. It seemed every night we'd have our friends over to bbq salmon, eat cherries and laugh the night away. We smoked plenty of pot which really helped me wind down from the steroids and keep my mind off things. The support of all our friends, family and coworkers played and continues to play a crucial role in getting through this. This next one is for you................
Posted by Chad Warren at 9:38 AM
ChristyOctober 31, 2009 at 8:35 PM
keep writing Chad...we're reading…
love christy and dan..
Megan and I have had a very rough 24 hours-we both have the swine flu and it takes alot to knock her down. I've never seen her totally out of commission but she is watching episode after episode of gossip girl and recovering nicely. I was taken in by ambulance yesterday with swine flu, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, poor kidney function....and the cancer problem which has been escalating lately. Once again the doctors gave it to me straight and for many hours yesterday I thought I'd never make it home again to be with Meg. After you run through the emotions the fight begins and there is no other option but to make it out of there. I've been in these situations more times than I care to remember and each time I've been lucky to come out of it. It does take its toll on the mind and body and I have felt myself deteriorate with each challenge. Facing your mortality is life changing, facing it over and over is just fucking torture. In the past eight and a half years I've had; two bone marrow transplants, total body radiation, many chemo's, been on and off steroids, had every myeloma treatment available and I'm running out of options. Ten months ago I had my second transplant from my original donor whom I owe the life he's given me. Things went bad and I spent several weeks in intensive care then several more in cardiac care. It was the craziest time but Meggy hung in there with me and we got through it. I can't even imagine the torture this has put her through. The months after proved to be even more trying for us since I required so much help. Meg was just starting a new job and then she has to come home to this creature curled up in a ball who couldn't feed himself. She would stand behind me with calming words while I moaned and screamed while trying to pee out blood clots the size ofsmushed slugs. She has endured night after night of my cramping that puts me to tears from the pain while she rubs me and gets mygatorade. This is a 24 hour job for both of us. I just want to give her the life she deserves that's why I fight so hard now. Can you imagine being her, dealing with this day in and day out. She's the most special person I've ever come across and she's just getting started. She's my confidant, my support, my love.
Posted by Chad Warren at 10:30 PM
1 COMMENT: Karen October 31, 2009 at 4:49 PM
You know how I feel about Megan, she is the most amazing person I know. But there is no one stronger or more equally amazing than you!
...D Day was May 17, 2001 after months of testing for everything under the sun I was diagnosed in the late stages of a cancer I'd never heard of called Multiple Myeloma. The crazy thing is I had just lost a close friend 2 years earlier to testicular cancer and now me!? He was everyones best friend and the most amazing guy - it makes me cry to think of him but I'm glad he will never be forgotten (he's a whole other story to be told soon). His name was Jay Sedgwick and I was dating his sister Katharine when I first got sick. It's strange to think back on being diagnosed -my mother was in the hall while the Doc went through what seemed like pages of results before I heard the word cancer. I remember immediately standing up calling my mother in while I gathered myself in the hall. It's funny hundreds of words were said by the doc and all I remember is CANCER and my mother asking if it was TERMINAL. There is no cure for multiple myleloma but there are treatments that can keep you going in hope they keep coming up with new ones. The average lifespan for mm patient's is 5 years... so they say. I don'tbelieve it's fair to give people timelines and % chances of surviving this and that. You can never underestimate the human will to live...….
Posted by Chad Warren at 9:03 PM
I've decided to put it all out there whether it reaches anyone or it's just a way for me to get it out so I find some peace. I've been battling cancer and all that goes with it since I was 26, just a kid two years out of university. I was in the typical post university gloom trying to adjust to the real world. I spent too much time in the weight room and bars on the weekend binge drinking, doing a poor job of picking up ladies. After bouncing around several shitty odd jobs for the first year after univ, I finally landed a so called "career" job with a multinational company working in an office with 50 of the most unhappy, unhealthy people you've ever seen. That lasted 8 months before I couldn't take it anymore so I left to coach tennis something I had done in the summers during high school and university. The money was good, the freedom was better, the sun and the people were fantastic. I had a love/hate relationship with tennis at the time but that's another story. I had settled down and was living with my girlfriend Katharine (still a close friend and special person). Things were going well except for the horrendous debt I had accumulated in just a few short years. Student loans spent on beer and lame nineties clothes-line of credit spent on month long trip back to states where I bought a car- credit card maxed from eating out..let's say $30,000. Then everything changed forever - just like that....
Posted by Chad Warren at 7:15 PM
Anonymous October 30, 2009 at 9:26 PM
Thanks for posting this Chad... I remember this time like it was yesterday.. from throwing rotten fruit out of our windows at the bus stop, to you not being able to laugh because your chest hurt so much.. and we laughed sooo much.
Me, Myself and Myeloma
Chad's blog, Me, Myself and Myeloma, first appeared via Blogger on October 30, 2009. It has been recreated here to make sure it always has a home.