Sabbatical

This may well be the longest I have been away from my blog – 26 days!  When I started my new job working as a nurse in the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic, I did not know to what extent it might affect my blogging activity.  Now I have a better idea although things should improve.  I am working three ten hour days a week during orientation.  There are many things I need to learn: new drugs, new equipment, relearning old skills, remembering many of the facts and procedures I have forgotten, new computer software systems, operations and systems specific to the IU Health in general and the BMT Clinic specifically.

These things can only be learned on day shift since I will be working solo when I switch to my evening hours.  The pace has been a physical, mental, and emotional strain.  I am going from being “disabled” to working ten hours shifts, spending most of the time on my feet.  I am used to getting 9-10 hours of sleep and getting up around nine in the morning.  Now I am at work by 7:30.  And because of the parking situation – 22,000 university students and staff competing with 10,000 health system employees – I have to park a ways from the hospital, leaving home early to take a shuttle from the outlying parking lot.

Of course, this was all complicated by being in the hospital for five days.  We just received the $30,000 bill yesterday.  My body always takes a while to recover.  But I felt like a needed to get back to my orientation quickly.  So I probably pushed myself.  I received extra doses of corticosteroids during hospitalization.  I was discharged with transient hypertension which persisted for three days.  Over the first two weeks I had several more periods of high blood pressure while at work.  My hands started trembling, my heart seemed to flutter and I felt lightheaded.  I went to my doctor, for the second time since discharge, and got started on a “beta blocker” to straighten out the pressure problem.  Only now my pressure was getting too low and I began to feel faint.  So we are still fine-tuning the dose.

Eleven hours makes for a long day.  I get home around 7, retire to the recliner, remote in hand.  I try to arrange my schedule so that I only work every other day – Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.  I usually feel wasted each day following a work day.  Hopefully I will get strong and build my endurance.

One is tempted to think that returning to nursing would be like riding a bicycle – everything would just come back somehow.  I have discovered that returning to nursing is more like riding a unicycle while juggling six balls, balancing a spinning plate on your nose, and knowing how the repair the bike when things go wrong.  Working as a nurse automatically means multi-tasking.  People on disability don’t do a lot of multi-tasking.

So here I am, back at the keyboard.  I have Father’s Day in front of me.  It’s too rainy to work in the garden.  I plan to publish this post.  Then I want to troll the cancer blogging community for more examples of excellent writing about our collective cancer experience.  I go to my evening shift in two weeks.  Then I will have more time and hopefully more energy to devote to the network.

Take care, Dennis

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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