Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Friends in High Places

I got the call this morning from the surgeon's office; arrangements made at the hospital, go over there as soon as I can.  They don't officially have me on the schedule, but will fit me in between all their scheduled patients.

That is code for be prepared to wait, it's going to be a long day.

Hello Hospital Admissions, this place is getting a little too familiar.  The same lady who always checks me in was there.

"Hey, hi, Aw, why are you back so soon?"

Aw.  Aw.  Aw.  Uh huh.  Back so soon.

She checked me in and put the required wrist band on me.  I've cut off more than my fair share of those these last months.

I headed down to Imaging.  The check-in nurse was the same as last Thursday when I got my PICC put in.

"Hi, Aw, why are you back so soon?"

I took my seat in the waiting room.  Waiting...  Actually not waiting that long when one of the technician's came out and said "Mrs. Clay?"

Here I am, I waived.

"Wayne sent me out to tell you he's finishing something up and will get you in there in about ten minutes.  Sorry for the wait.  What's going on with your arm, having problems with the PICC?"

I couldn't believe they were already getting me in.  It pays to have a hook-up in Radiology.  Never thought I would.  I do now.

Wayne passed by a few minutes later and called out "Hey Deb, I'll just be a few minutes."

A room full of people waiting, Mr. This, and Mrs. That, but I am Deb.  I got a kick out of that.

I mean, if you're going to have cancer, if you're going to have to go to the hospital a lot, and have all kinds of tests done, and get poked and tortured, it might as well be by people you really like.  Right?

It wasn't long before Wayne took me back.

"Ok so here's the deal.  We weren't sure why a venogram was ordered for you, it's not what we usually do to check this out.  First, tell me what's been going on, and we'll go from there."

We are in a small room, and in it was one of the cute floral upholstered chairs I think are normally in the room where you get a mammogram.  I sat in the chair, quite comfortable, and felt like Little Miss Muffet.  With cancer.

I told Wayne about the swelling in the arm and down to the hand, and the numbness too.  As I talked he removed the little net sleeve over my PICC.

"Where's all your dressing?  Where's all your bandages? and why does the line have so much slack, like it was pulled on??"

"Um, I took them off, last night, my arm was really bothering me and they were coming off.  I don't know about the line."

He gave me a look, like bad bad Little Miss Muffet.

He had gloves on and started to clean me up with alcohol.  He wiped the entire area.

I asked him something, which I can't remember now, I think asking is he sure about the extra slack, and I touched and pointed to the PICC line.

He gave me another look.

"Uh, do you see how I have gloves on and I am sterilizing this whole area?"


"You have to be careful with this."

As he said that I felt some of the alcohol go in to the hole where the line comes out of my arm.  Ouch.

"You have to keep this covered at all times.  Bacteria could travel down the line and go straight into your heart, and we don't want that."


Wayne examined the area and examined my arm.

"Ok, so here's what we are going to do.  From what I see of your arm, I think everything looks ok, yes, there is some swelling, but I am not overly concerned about it.  I am going to tell the radiologist (Dr. Zen, who performed my biopsy, was on today).  He may want to do an ultrasound just to check your upper arm and in to your neck area.  If he oks that, I will talk to the ultrasound people to get you in there."

"You mean, I'm not going to get poked today and shot up with dye and..."  I could have cried.

"Nope.  Not today.  You've had an ultrasound, they don't hurt, right?"

I could have done the ice cream and cakey cake dance right there.  I got up from my comfy chair, figuring I'd need to go back to the waiting room.

"That's ok, if you would like to wait here, that's fine."

I sat back down.

I like you Wayne.  Thank you.

Wasn't long before Dr. Zen came in to see me.  Pretty much said everything that Wayne said and that he would look at the ultrasound and call over to The Good Witch's office with the results.

They both left.  Wayne came back a couple minutes later.  "Ok, you're all set, they will come get you in a few minutes from ultrasound, they know where you are, and will come get you in here, so make yourself comfy."

Do you know today I was whisked through, without an appointment in two different departments, faster I think than when I've had an appointment?

Wayne.  Thank you Wayne.

Couple minutes later, they came for me and escorted me down the short hall and around the corner to the ultrasound room.  Last time I was here it was not long after my abnormal mammogram, and I remembered the look of a black hole on the screen of a starry sky.  You remember?  My beautiful breast of a starry sky, with a black hole that could be measured.  Something there that could be measured.

The technician asked me to undress from the waist up, put a gown on half way to keep my right arm and neck area exposed, and she'd be back in a minute after I changed.  I did and hopped up on the table to lay down.

I looked up at the ceiling.  I know the ceiling of a few places here now.  I know the ceiling in Ultrasound.  I know the ceiling in Nuclear Medicine, and I know the ceiling in the Imaging rooms.

The technician came back in and prepared to goop me up.  "Can you move your hair all the way off your neck and behind your head?  That's a great haircut by the way, where do you get it done?"

The Jennifer Aniston wig gets em every time.

"It's a wig.  I don't have hair.  I'm a chemo patient..." and I proceed to tell her about being a blond and my three new alter egos.

"Wow, you look great.  Do you mind me asking, what kind of cancer?"

"Breast cancer."

"Did you find it yourself, or on a mammogram."

I told her about Flopsy, and the slight hardness in her, and pucker near my nipple.

She continued the ultrasound, squeezing more and more goop on my arm, and into my arm pit, and up towards my neck.  She waved her wand around and around, and occasionally I heard a click, she was taking a picture.  Oh geez, what's she taking a picture of?  I was in there for awhile, it was hard for her to get what she needed since my PICC and bandage were in the way.

"Did they ask you to wait, or go home after this?"

Uh oh.

She took a few more pictures and then I was done.  I walked out of the hospital, trying to remember how many times had I walked through these automatic doors with a little wrist band identifying me.

I headed over to the Cancer Center, right around the corner, to remind Vonda about copying my chart, and check with Kitty about what time will I do chemo on Friday, since my plastic surgeon appointment is in the morning.  I saw Kitty first, told her about the whole ultrasound thing, and she said as soon as they called her, she'd give me a call.  She had me down for 1:30 p.m. on Friday instead of my usual 9 a.m.  "I remembered to change the calendar" she smiled.

Vonda was in the medicine room, and she was surprised to see me.  "Just wanted to remind you about copying my chart and all..."

"Oh yeah" she remembered.  We talked a bit, and agreed I'd come at the end of the day tomorrow.  Vonda?  Hope everything went ok with the rest of your day.  Hug.

I came home, dogged tired.  You'd a thunk I hadn't slept in days, I was exhausted.  I made a tuna sandwich with sprouts and then took a nap.  I notice I don't seem to be as resilient these days to the glitches or possible glitches.  They really get to me.  I get all in my head and anxious and then I get really really sleepy.

Almost at the end of her day, Kitty called and said they had the report back.  Now don't quote me here, cause I didn't understand all of it but she tried to dumb it down for me.  Bottom line?  No blockage on my PICC, but some thrombosis in another vein close to where my PICC line is.  Not a clot or blockage, but like some debris floating in my veins which was probably causing the swelling, maybe in my lymphatic system too.  We would just keep an eye on it.

"How do we do that?"

She explained if the pain or swelling increased.  She recommend I go really easy on the arm, keep it elevated and it should get better.  Both she and Wayne remarked there's been a lot of upset and trauma on the right side with the two ports and then the PICC being put in.  Hopefully this is all just part of the healing process for me.  Everybody's different, but some people are really sensitive to having things put in their body.  If something happens, we will deal with it, try not to worry.

So there you have it.  My arm still really hurts.  It is still slightly swollen.  My shoulder hurts too.  I sure hope this gets better cause I don't know if I could stand this for another 7 weeks.  I really don't think I could.

Robin had to go to bed early tonight.  Tomorrow is the first day of school.  My baby is now an 8th grader, with a full set of braces, and man size bravery.  "Mom, will you list all the stuff again you said I'd need, and I'll get my backpack and do the check?"

I rattled things off, while he said "check.  check.  check."

He patted my head and hugged me goodnight, and I took a big sniff of freshly showered 8th grader.

Not long after, Batman called.  He was leaving work after his first night back after being on tour.  Just like he always does, he calls me on my cell to ask "What's for dinner?"  Not long after, he was walking through the front door, received a happy dog greeting, and reheated ravioli with pesto.

Life goes on.  Thank God for my sacred ordinary.

and for friends in high places.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Sparkle Mama,
When I read that you had removed your bandages, I thought to myself, "Oh Girl, you are in trouble now." Your Crazy Girl ... please be a little more careful to keep your arm sterile. I can just imagine you with your big, beautiful eyes and gorgeous hair, trying to explain to Wayne why you had to remove your dressings. Oh, how you make me smile. Tons of positive thoughts and love coming your way. xoxox

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