Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meat and Potatoes

We walked (wellllll, you got me - Jason walked and I glided along in front of him in my handy dandy wheelchair). Ha! Nothin' like starting a blog out with a lie. I promise to keep all tall tales to a minimum from this point forward. Anyways, we went from the third floor of our swanky motel across a walkway and into the third floor of the North Campus of the hospital.

Forgive me for lack of details as this doc is only serving a few patients, BUT he is serving them well. This guy cares y'all! CARES I tell ya! And why do I know this? He had me on the table for just over 3 hours. 3 HOURS I said, but let me get back to the beginning. Okay? Okay! After finishing my last blog entry I visited the potty and was whisked away to LIBERATION Land, we'll call it.

Our swanky hotel only got swankier as we found our way to the hospital. I wore my America's Next Top Model "T" and black capri sweats. And Jason had on his torn Carhartt jeans and faded out maroon company issued polo. A bleach spill on the front – no biggie – today was to be about comfort. Out of place much? Yeh. I felt like I was lost in the White House. Marble d├ęcor, regal executive blue and gold carpeting – nice place, we covered that already tho, eh?

On with it then. We asked directions at an info desk just once. Then we were greeted immediately at Interventional Radiology, gave some insurance info and waited all of maybe 5 minutes before nurse Jim came to get me. Can I get a, "Yeehaw!" y'all? Things was going good. No time for a before video. Oh well. These peeps were all business. I'm cool with that. Very cool! Not cold tho – I DO NOT NEED A WARM BLANKET – thank you very much.

Huh? I tend to shiver or shake or spasm uncontrollably when nervous. And everyone and their brother wanted to bring me a warm blanket. Nice but HEAT WILL KILL ME! Anyways, during this prep time I undress and 'gown up' as I've come to call it. Again with the stretching of the truth. Jason undressed and gowned me. HE IS THE MAN! Jealous ladies? It's okay. You should be. Hehehehehe. I LOVE YOU, BABY!

Carry on nurse Jim. Commence with the standard questioning. No I don't have dentures. Do you have dentures? Funny guy tho cause he asked if I had kicked my marijuana habit. Jeez 'o Pete, ummmm, uh, yes I guess I had. Especially considering I've never partaken of the wacky tobaccey. Funny guy. I don't drink or smoke or do drugs but that marijuana – I'm alllll over that – NOT! Had a girlfriend in high school that was, but that perhaps is a blog entry for another time. Anywhooooo . . .

The doc comes in to be sure I hadn't come up with any questions from last week's appt. and goes over his game plan. He's gonna look at the left jugular and azygous and definitely balloon the right jugular. Sounds good to me doc. Let's start this party! Are you cold he asks? Nah, just eager! And I think he may have been the only one in the entire building not to rant and rave about the availability of heated blankets. Smart man, I tell ya!

Exit doctor. And Jim commences his desperate search for an IV site. As Willie, my favorite character from Swamp People, says, "Well good luck to ya." He looked and looked and the clock was nearing 11. Guess what? My procedure was scheduled for 11. After one unsuccessful try he went to fetch some help. Bring in the cavalry, I'd thought. And boy did he. Nice enough woman nurse but geesh! I would preferred Jimmy give it another couple of gos.

I refer to her as woman nurse cause she didn't give her name. She said she wasn't gonna give it 'cause that way I couldn't complain about her later. I thought she'd been a jokester like Jim but after our meeting concluded I had mixed emotions. She stuck me, ummmm, I believe it was four times. And I'm not even bitching about the number of times. It was the darned location! Square in the middle of my pee pickin' wrist. In all my years of IV'n . . . I NEVER . . . nor will I ever again. HAVE MERCY, that hurt.

30 + hours of labor, 2 C-sections, a bladder reconstruction complete with bladder spasms, being thrown from various horses, having my feet stomped by, yes, prolly those very same horses, getting a concussion having a basketball slammed into my head, getting rear-ended in a car accident – none of these things hurt nearly as bad as that woman nurse going in both, yes both of my wrists and fishing both aggressively and unsuccessfully for an IV site.

Was it my screaming, moaning or yelping in pain that prompted Jim's return? O.K. - I didn't really scream but tears were flyin' and teeth were grinding. The second wrist hurt the worst. Thank you, God for only giving me two. Seriously, I'd been praying for strength and veins since Jim informed me in the beginning of this ordeal that I musta left my veins at home. So now as bad as I wanted this procedure, needed it even, I was considering telling them thanks for their time but I was READY to go home. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

So then Jim decides to assist the woman nurse. They think maybe they've found one. They do this one together. The underside of my right arm between my elbow and my wrist. I begin to shed tears of joy. I even say, "Praise Jesus!" out loud and proud. And then they leave the room. Woman nurse returns and I thank her. She manages a "mmmhmm," and exits. Enter Jim shaking his head no. Then he exits and Jason approaches. And he shakes his head no too. I say, "What's everybody shaking their heads for?"

Jason tells me it ain't lookin' good. Well what's HE know, I'd thought to myself. And then Jim re-enters to find Jason eyeballing the site and Jim reaches across me to show Dr. Spindler the site is failing. "See how the fluid is bunching up outside of the vein?" Jim asks. Well duh. Of course he sees it. He's been around the block with me a time or two or 10 or 200. Anyways, had I not still been writhing in pain from the last wrist stick I'd have prolly known it hadn't worked too. As noon approached more tears followed as I couldn't help but wonder if I'd be able to get my procedure at all now. Please God, I need your help!

During this lull in time I got to meet Paul who introduced himself as my photographer. Very nice guy. Very talkative. We talked sports. Why, I dunno. Surely I can't after all these years still appear to be an athlete of some sort. Of course not, nah, he was just tryin' to somehow connect to a girl from Indiana. So you must be a Colts fan? Nah. Pacers? Nah. NEW YORK JETS! Well, how does an Indiana girl come to like a New York team? And with that the pain in my wrist started to subside.

And then Jim introduces me to my new nurse, Albert. It was no big deal when Jim said his name, but when Albert said, "Hi. I'm Albert." Again with the waterworks already. For those of you who truly know me you'll completely understand, but I lost it at this point. I flashed to my cousin Albert's face looking down upon me and smiling, just as the nurse was doing during his introduction. He looked perplexed. I bet the poor guy thought he'd done been assigned to a looney tune.

Why on Earth would such a warm welcome hello result in tears? A blog entry for another day I suppose. Or maybe not. I will say I miss you Albert, prolly my most funnest, favoritist cousin ever when I was only a little tree climber. Aggravated the crap outta me he could always go higher. Just sayin' . . .

Anyways, back to the vampires. I mean nurses. Finally just before 12, a whole hour past when my procedure was scheduled, they decided I was to be medicated/sedated after access to my femoral vein. The plan was to lightly sedate me via oral meds first. Yippeeeee! If only they'd have thought about a little sumthin' for anxiety nearer to the beginning. Finally some good news. I'd have gotten up and danced a jig if I could have. So Jason kisses me and assures me it'll all be fine and he'll see me in a little bit. My God I love this man!

Then Paul, Albert and myself sashay down the hall to the LIBERATION lounge let's call it. Paul introduces me to zillions of other technicians as they hurriedly prep and or fuss with whatever it is they are there to do. And in comes another nurse to get an IV started. WHAT THE HELL? Paul explains to her yadda, yadda, yadda about oral meds and she explains to him that my doc will not do it that way. Yikes! Will not, eh? Even after what I'd already been thru? Don't make me get off this table lady!

The woman nurse from earlier had already said if she couldn't get me I couldn't be got. And I sure didn't want her back in on this. More tears Angela? Really? No doubt dehydrated, I had no idea how producing any more tears was even possible at this point. She stuck me. A swing and a miss. "We'll try the other arm," she said. Yeh, ummmm, I'd heard that before but I at least liked this one's style. Stick and go. If ya didn't get it, move on. NO FISHING! And especially no violent deep wrist fishing. Pleeeeeeaaaase, God. Please.

And with stick number two and photographer Paul and nurse Albert's confirmations I was successfully IVed up and ready for prepping. Again with the waterfalls gushing from my eyes. I praised God again out loud and thanked the nurse who had finally won the war. I told Paul I thought maybe it would take 8 times since that is Mark Sanchez's number. (Jets' Quarterback for the non-sports fans out there.) But I sure was grateful it had happened in 7. "Seven sticks?" the successful nurse asked, her eyes nearly popping outta her head. No way she'd have ever let anybody stick her that many times. Huh, well, yeh. Me either. But what else was I supposed to do?

Sticky heart monitoring placements, a sexy cap (specially made for me Albert says), oxygen on, area sterile and we are a go. Huh? I still ain't got no meds y'all. I can feel it ALLLLL. And hear it all. Thank God I couldn't see it too. Well, I prolly could've had I kept my eyes open but a girl's gotta draw the line somewhere. So I listen as my doc directs the learning doc on how to begin. Details, details. Questions. Answers. And then a little silence and I ask, "Should I be awake for this?"

Immediately Albert is at my side asking if I need anything for pain. And although I wasn't really hurting, at least no more than normal, I promptly replied, "Yes, please!" I prayed this would put me to sleep. I knew the left side was picture perfect and the right was … "a problem," he said. "We'll figure this out," I remember the doc saying. Oh my God! Ummmm, Albert? You still there? And sleep.

Then in what seemed like no time at all I woke feeling someone or something on the outside of my neck. Huh? Where was I and what was going on? Maybe they were done and were doing an ultrasound to check flow. Or not. Once awake enuff the doc explains to me he was going to be entering from above the blockage too. HUH? Was he asking permission or what? This my friends I'd never heard of and had done no research on whatsoever. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Oh my indeed! Oh my God they were going in and I was still awake. Still awake I say. God? Albert? Somebody? Anybody. Pleeeeeaaaase knock my ass out! I bet the woman nurse from earlier woulda had she been there. Just sayin' . . .

So what seemed like seconds but were actually hours later I awoke to good docs voice explaining it had been a tough one but that he got thru. Through as in finished or through as in past the block – I dunno. But I was relieved to have been blessed with sleep thru most of it, either way. So as the doc exits telling me he'd share the good news with my husband and me later I ask Albert how things really went. I reckon my cousin Albert woulda gave it to me straight and thankfully so did this one.

He told me I hadn't really rested until he'd given me a healthy dose of benedryl. Thank you kind sir. And thank you benedryl. So "the parts I missed," he said the doc would go over with me in detail with my husband but he could report that it had been after all that time – wait for it – wait for it – a success! Praise the Lord! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus! Amen! Unhooked and unharnessed we made our triumphant return to wince we started. And the hubs looked relieved. Had he been nervous? Should I be then?

And before I could question him or him me, in comes the doctor. He apologizes to Jason immediately for it having taken so long. Soooo long? What the hell time was it? 4? After 4? WHAT? So let's start on the left. The left looked good. No treatment needed. Small abnormalities in the azygous so he ballooned that a few different places which by the way, for those following the whole story, I'd never had done before. Sidenote: This left me very excited about possible new improvements.

And finally the meat and potatoes. The right jugular was not only severely narrowed as the earlier ultrasound indicated, but just at the collar bone apparently it had closed off completely. For the mathematicians out there that'd mean 100% blockage. 100%. You hear me? Sooooo. He said he almost gave up trying to get thru at all but decided to try coming in thru the top down as well as from the bottom up. Made me think of a teeter totter. Up down up down up down.

Looking exhausted but relieved he explained that once he'd finally gotten thru he ballooned the area to 14mm vs. the 12mm I had done in Atlanta. So he'll see me back in a month and should it be blocked again we may have to re-visit having a stent placed. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I'd done well he told Jason. And after we both thanked him and he had left the room, I told Jason that the doc had done well! What kinda doc woulda took allllllllll that time and worked so hard to get thru that occlusion? Praise God! And praise Dr. _________! Thought I was gonna slip and tell ya, heh?

Next up was to lay flat. I've got that down cold my friends. Problem was tho I'd been laying flat on my back perfectly still for nearly 7 hours already. And they wanted four more? Uhhhhhh!?! Albert's pain meds and benedryl had completely ceased to work by 5. And in come the shakes. All I could think of was how that couldn't be good on my newly opened jugular. Could a girl at least get a Tylenol up in here? I know I got Advil in my purse. Just sayin'. Fast forward thru an hour or so more of moanin' and groanin' and in no time at all we had returned to Hotel Swankville and were discussing our dinner options.

Calls home were made and pizza was ordered. Had I made it in time for the Project Runway premiere? More on that later. "Make it work!"

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