LIVE FROM MD ANDERSON
Thursday – June 5
I arrive for surgery with bells on! Pretty much the same ole drill, check-in, get undressed, dress into hospital attire, start an IV, let’s roll! They keep telling me I won’t remember a thing because of the general anesthetic, but I don’t ever remember being wheeled into the OR under general anesthesia. I’m always out like a light before I get there. This time I remember going into the room, being transferred to a very comfortable operating table with lots of blue foam padding.
I was asked to snort up some nasal spray into each nostril, then breath deeply as an oxygen mask was lowered to my face with a very spongy/silicone like rim. As I looked around a bit nervous because I was still awake, I noticed 6, maybe 8 people in the room. More than I would have expected for a simple surgery.
As I was asked to continue to breath deep I heard one of the nurses say, “Mark it 10:13.” I could see the clock and it read 10:20. That was my last memory.
I awoke in the recovery room I think around 4 or 5 PM. I’m not sure of the exact time, I was groggy for awhile. I felt no pain at the time, just sleepy. I remember thinking, “Did I just come out of surgery or am I just going in?” My tongue still felt the same to me.
After about an hour of “recalled recovery” I now realized the surgery was indeed over. WOW that went fast…well fast for me, being passed out! I had a nurse help feed me using my new Mic-Key. He was very kind and helpful, most all of them are. As transportation waited to wheel me off to the observation room, my nurse hooked me up to a new bag of plasma.
I was transported to a private room for observation. When I arrived I had to pee badly. The nurse disconnected the plasma bag attached to a pole on the bed, so I could go to the bathroom. When I came back to my bed the plasma was gone and I never saw that nurse again.
It was 7 PM, shift change, the time communication breaks down amongst the nurses. This day was no different. I asked the new nurse where my plasma bag went. It was brand new. I hadn’t been on it 10 minutes. She did not offer any suggestions, just a simple, “I’ll check for you.”
I fell asleep until 9 PM. I awoke in great pain. I pressed the call button for the nurse and she arrived swiftly. I explained I needed my pain medicine and I enquired again about the plasma. She reviewed my chart and said, “I’ll have to order your pills from the pharmacy.” BUT I’M IN PAIN NOW! “What pills?” I ask. “Your pain medicine and your thyroid medicine.” She replied. “WHAT???? First of all, my pain meds were supposed to be liquid according to my doctor and what thyroid medicine are you talking about?? I don’t have a thyroid problem that I know of!” I snapped. She then said she’d check with the pharmacy and clear this up.
While she cleared it up and never returned, I broke out a bottle of Loratab (liquid Vicodin) that I had brought with me just in case there was a problem. Dr. Hanasano prescribed it for me to take home, but I filled it before my surgery. I had this happen to me on a previous visit and I anguished in pain for four hours while they worked out the problem. That’s criminal! So, I always maintain a back-up plan.
After taking my pain medicine, I fell asleep for a few hours. I woke up hungry, so I prepared my feed bag. As I threw out the empty cans, I found my bag of plasma... in the trash can! Now that just pissed me off! The nurse just threw it away…a FULL bag!
I couldn’t get to the call button fast enough! “I found the plasma!” I told the nurse. She said, “Oh yes the nurse threw it out. It was hep-locked.” HUH?? I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I do know I’m not paying for something that you threw away without any explanations. That’s crap! I really wonder about the training of some of these nurses. I know many are subcontracted. Perhaps that’s why I get the feeling some just don’t care.
How can they get so much wrong with such a simple observation? It turned out THEY needed to be observed. If it wasn’t for me paying attention, I would have been swallowing pills with a raw tongue, and given thyroid medicine for a problem I didn’t have! As it stood, I never got that bag of plasma replaced. It better not be on the bill! Should it be this difficult or am I just being a pain in the ass?
Friday – June 6
Early this morning I had an appointment to see Dr. Kim (Chemo) It was brief, my scans looked clear and my blood work was satisfactory. I'm still CANCER FREE after one year! Denise my dietitian stopped by to discuss changing my gruel formula. Apparently Pro Balance is being discontinued and we need to find a suitable replacement even if it will be short term. After this short day, I went back to my hotel room. Every muscle began to ache and I was thoroughly exhausted!
Saturday – June 7
I was able to sleep in late. I slept like a rock, over 10 hours! It’s so much easier not having that long feeding tube dangling around me all night, like a snake wiggling against my skin. After I awoke, I went down to check out and asked about hiring a cab. The desk clerk offered to call a limo service they use. The cost of a sedan was about the same as a taxi. OK sounds good.
Within the hour a very dapper gentleman arrived, a man of class and distinction. He was dressed to the nines in a perfectly tailored suit, and sporting a very handsome chapeaux. I was still exhausted, even after all that sleep. As we traveled to the airport, the driver was unusually quiet. Then all of the sudden as he began to converse, the class of this man went right out the window at 70 mph!
He began to talk, and talk, and talk, but not chit chat. He ranted about how alcohol once ruled his life. How he would circle the liquor store every morning waiting for it to open because he couldn’t wait for his next drink. He liked Wild Turkey to start. TO START?? The TRUE man began to emerge. His language transformed to that of a street urchin: Mother F’n this, Mother F’n that. After he got his alcohol fix he would seek out for stronger fixes. He eluded to it as, "The good shit!" I assumed he meant drugs.
If he had early calls to pick up clients, he would answer the phone, utter something nasty, and hang up on them. He told me he used to have a lot of high profile clients, but they were all gone now. I WONDER WHY? It was evident: Clothes DO NOT make the man! Nor do they give him class, willpower, or an education! He dropped me by the curb at the airport with, “Have a good one brotha!” and disappeared in his Caddy down the highway of obscurity.
By the time I made it to the plane, I was out like a light. For some reason I just can’t keep my eyes open very long. I feel like I have the onset of narcolepsy. When the plane touched down I grabbed my luggage and made my way to the taxi stand for a ride home.
A nice woman driver pulled up, New Yorker… maybe Jersey. She asked where I had come in from. I explained the whole cancer thing. My head began to ache. I guess from all the exhaustion. Maybe I was traveling too soon after surgery. I was light headed. At that point she became my doctor, mother, and spiritual leader. She dolled out advice like she was a pro. None of it making and sense of course. She was another nut!
“You’re here for a reason Dear. You must go out and heal the others. I’ll stop at the drug store and pick you up some Maalox. It’s located along the bottom shelf in a blue bottle. It’s good for a lot of aliments.” She began. Gee $250,000 in doctor and hospital bills and all I needed was a $6 bottle of Maalox and maybe a little Wild Turkey! What was I thinking?
By now it was obvious; my life is turning out to be one big lesson in understanding the nature of the human specious and my own fortitude. Maybe I should be less engaging, then half this crap wouldn’t clutter my world, but then life wouldn’t be so entertaining.
There’s no place like home!
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