Ten Things I’ve Learned in 2012

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 
Benjamin Franklin

I think that this quote from  Benjamin Franklin sums up the past year for me when it comes to learning.

Ten Things I’ve Learned in 2012:

1. I’ve learned about a cancer that I’ve never heard of before. It’s called Multiple Myeloma. More people need to learn about this cancer. I plan to educate as many people as I can in the next year. But will it help? I’ve learned so much about this cancer because I am involved with it. Would I have cared enough to research it if it didn’t affect my family directly? Likely not, sad as that may be.

2. I’ve learned how to read blood tests. Who knew that there was so much involved in reading blood test results? I’ve learned to watch red blood counts and white blood counts. I’ve learned when low hemoglobin is too low and needs to be treated with a blood transfusion. I’ve learned what M protein results mean and how important they are. I’ve learned that you can’t always trust your healthcare professionals to monitor those blood test results. You need to stay on top of the results yourself because they are often stressed and over worked and can make human errors.

3. I’ve learned to be an advocate for my patient. I’ve learned that I have a voice and I need to use it when I feel that my patient is not being cared for in the manner that I feel is necessary. I’ve become a very mean mama bear when the situation warrants it.

4. I’ve learned that the people who you will find the most supportive are often strangers that are going through the same journey. That’s because they “get it”. They understand your pain and grief and disappointments and frustrations. It is an amazingly healing thing to hear someone say, “I’m going through the same thing”. You feel like you are not alone.

5. I’ve learned that a simple cough can turn into pneumonia very quickly. I’ve learned that in less than an hour a person can spike a temperature that makes you run for the phone to call an ambulance. I’ve learned that you can’t always trust your patient to make the best judgement call about going to the hospital. We almost lost Mr. B with multiple blood clots on both lungs because of it. Then a few months later with pneumonia and a few weeks later with blood infection. He didn’t want to go to the hospital any of those times. I cried when I called the ambulance when he had sepsis because he asked me not to do it. He was so sick I was sure that he wasn’t coming home.

6. I’ve learned that banks don’t care if you have a serious illness. Even if you pay all of your bills on time, they still look at the total income and declare you not worthy to have a mortgage. I’ve learned how much money it takes to care for a sick person. I’ve learned that there are resources available for things like a hospital bed but no one tells you about them. I’m not sure what the big secret is.

7. I’ve learned that I can stay awake all night at the hospital and even function pretty good the next day. Who needs sleep? It’s way over rated. LOL

8. I’ve learned that it is very easy to neglect yourself because you don’t need one more thing on your plate. Even going to the dentist takes a backseat. I’m sure mine is thinking I found a new one. :-)

I’ve learned to accept help from people. I’ve always been on the giving end and not the receiving end. It makes me feel weak to constantly be reliant on others for things like rides to the cancer treatment center or to get groceries. We have been blessed by some incredible gifts from some of the people that know Mr. B and have worked with him. It humbles me.

10. And most of all, I’ve learned that each day that Mr. B is here with me, is a gift from God. I’ve learned to enjoy each day and be thankful for it. I’ve learned that some things aren’t important anymore and to let them go.

And my final prayer is that 2013 will bring a cure for this cruel cancer. May you and your loved ones find peace and contentment in the next year. God bless you.