My Cancer Life Brightens and Lightens + H1N1

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

Tish just came home from the school she works at once a week as the social worker.  She is actually in charge of the school social program for the archdiocese.  She said that today one fifth-grader was sent home with a 104 degree temperature.  Yesterday there were ten children from kindergarten home sick.  Tish thinks we had better start talking about a plan if she gets ill.  H1N1 is everybody’s fear.  She mentions gloves and masks to be worn by me if she gets ill.  Don’t cough around me, Tish.

In today’s paper an article estimated that 60 million to 120 million people could experience flu symptoms this fall and winter.  There could be as many as 1.8 million hospitalizations for H1N1.  While most cases would be mild, 300,000 persons might need intensive care, which could tie up hospital beds in some parts of the country.  And up to 90,000 deaths could occur, twice the number in the average flu season.  Children and young adults are more susceptible to H1N1 than the elderly.  Cases are expected to peak in mid-October.  So let’s be careful out there.

Journal: March 2002 – On weekends I feel better.  I have two whole days to recover.  Sometimes someone will take me to a movie.  Sometimes Tish and I will go out with friends.  I have enough energy for about one outing a day.  One Saturday we decide to go to Ben’s apartment complex.  He is my middle son.   He has given his old car to Aaron, his younger brother, for Christmas.  The only problem was that it would not start.  So Tish, Aaron and myself squeeze into my truck.  It feels good to be driving again.  We have to physically push the car, a 1988 Plymouth Reliant, out of its parking space.  I connect my heavy-duty jumper cables to the dead battery and have Aaron spray ether into the carburetor as I turn over the engine.  Eventually it catches and sputters reluctantly into a steady idle.  Aaron drives his new car for the first time with Tish in the front seat.  He only has a Learner’s Permit.  I follow them home.  There I direct Aaron in checking the various fluids and cleaning the battery terminals off.  I go into the house and am aware of a strange but familiar feeling.  I grope for a bit then realize that it is the sensation of being normal, of doing normal things.  I had forgotten my illness if only for a few hours.


Our dishwasher decides that now is a good time to quit.  We discover that it cannot be repaired.  So on a Sunday I insist on accompanying Tish on a search for a new one.  This is another of the roles traditionally assigned to me. I consult the Sunday advertisements and the article in Consumer Reports.  We search the “Scratch ‘n’ Dent” section of the appliance store without success.  Eventually we settle on a machine that is on sale, has a rebate, and qualifies for “one year same as cash” financing.  The excursion promises to make me feel normal also, that is, until I suddenly become dizzy and short of breath in the midst of a conversation with the sales person and have to sit down.  So much for a return to normalcy.  My cancer will not let me forget.

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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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