—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Shannon’s Journey, 19

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Today, Wednesday April 27th, it’d be fair to say Shannon’s feeling a lot better than the last time I saw her. Of course, it’s been a week since her last chemo session. She’s got one more coming up and I’m betting she’ll be feeling pretty crummy for a week or so afterward, but then, hopefully she’ll be well on her way to feeling better.

Her hair will be growing back, her eyebrows too. And in no time, she’ll be back to looking like her old, normal, beautiful self.

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Because her red blood cell count was low, which is a side effect of chemo, cuz they grow fast, Shannon had to have a blood transfusion and her oncologist’s office set her up with an appointment to do that at Renown Medical Center, which if you have to go to a hospital in the Reno area, I recommend. Having been in all of ‘em for one reason or another, I’m here to say, Renown is the cream of the crop, hospital wise, in Northern Nevada.

In the above photograph, she’s being weighed. Well, you can’t see her here, but you can see her weight. If you’re in America and think she must’ve lost a ton, she hasn’t. It’s in Kilos, so if you wanna know her true weight, multiply by 2.2.

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Obviously, she’s getting her height checked in this photograph and, all of a sudden, I wondered why they did that every time. Were they checking to see if she was shrinking? I had to know, so I asked the nurse.

And she told me they needed her exact weight and height as part of the formula they used to decide just how much blood to give her.

Okay, that explains why the blood people needed to know how tall she was. But the chemo people? Maybe they check to see if she’s shrinking. I checked the chemo side effects and shrinking wasn’t one of ‘em. But they check her every time nonetheless.

Maybe it’s a side effect they don’t tell you about. Maybe they check cuz they don’t wanna wind up with an Incredible Shrinking Shannan. It could be. Doctors never tell you everything.

After she weighed in and they established how tall she was, I went to the lobby to wait, cuz they said Shannon could only have one visitor in her room at a time and Vesta went back with Shannon.

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I met a lotta nice people in the lobby, including one man who got sepsis from an operation he had to remove kidney stones and apparently that’s a really, really bad thing to get, cuz he had to have a blood transfusion everyday for over a month.

He was a nice man and he was very thankful they figured out what he had, cuz it saved his life.

I asked him how he liked Renown and he had nothing but praise for the place. So again, if you gotta go to the hospital in Northern Nevada, here’s another recommendation.

“You won’t believe this place,” Vesta said when she came out to tell me I could go back.

“Why not?”

“I’ll let Shannon tell you."

So I went back as Shannon was getting her blood pressure checked and she told me I should go to the room next to hers.

“Why?”

“Go look.”

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So I did and I found a small kitchen, with the dietician in it. I looked in the fridge and found cold water, yogurt, wraps and other goodies for the patients. No extra charge. Just like I wished the place Shannon gets chemo shoulda had that I wrote about last time.

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The dietician told me everything they had there was free for the patients.

“That’s very nice of you guys,” I said.

“That’s not all,” she said. “We have a menu our patients can order from.”

“Really?”

“Really.” She pulled one off of a small stack next to the fridge. “And in addition to what we have on the menu, we have a special everyday.”

“And no extra charge for that either?”

“Nope. Our patients are here all day, it’s the least we can do?”

“Can I take a picture of the menu?”

“Here.” She handed it to me and I photographed it.

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Back in Shannon’s little private room— Yep, that’s right, I said private, every transfusion and chemo patient gets a private room. Anyway, back in her private room she was eager to show me the TV.

“Just like you wrote about,” she said. And it was, only problem is, I wrote about the TV that wasn’t, where she gets her chemo, here it was, where she doesn’t. Kind of a bummer, cuz, you know, chemo sucks. If you gotta have it, having a TV with a bazillion channels is a nice thing to have in front of you, because anything that takes your mind off of why you’re really sitting in that chair is a good thing.

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I’ve been in a lotta rooms in that hospital, cuz sadly, Shannon isn’t the only sick person we know. And also, Vesta and I have been there for happy occasions too, like when our friends Ken and Peggy had their kids. And all the rooms have a fake, lit up sky.

Yes, the sky isn’t real, but it’s a nice touch.

And golly gosh, reading back over what I’ve written, it almost sounds like I’m singing this hospital’s praises. Well, I suppose I am. I’ve been in a lotta hospital in a lotta countries and this one is the best I’ve seen.

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She’s discovered the BLT on the menu. Can you tell she’s happy about it?

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As for being in that blue chair, she said it made her feel like she was flying first class on a 747. With all the gadgets around her, I’d say maybe it’s more like being in the cockpit.

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And here she is, smiling and feeling pretty good, considering. And this is the way I left her, feeling pretty good myself.

It’s a drag, cancer is and the chemo part of it really, really sucks, so you gotta take the good moments, and there are some, and cherish them. And her feeling alright this day, kept Vesta and me feeling alright all day long.

It’s just a crying shame, they can’t figure out how to make every day you’re in recovery an alright day.

Ah well. Only one more chemo session and maybe a couple weeks after that, all of Shannon’s days will be alright days. We can only hope.

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Lastly, I wanted a photo for the road and this is it.

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