Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day zero minus 2

Yesterday was a difficult one, and I didn't get settled until about 1AM this morning, so today's entry is a recap of yesterday's events.

October 4th, 2016-
0441 wakeup call was preceded by little sleep. Nothing by mouth (NPO), past midnight, but it proved its worth though, but more on that later.

I woke with a reaction to the infusions of Kepivance that presented as a pretty severe headache, and swollen face that made me look like an Ewok. Showered and dressed, I made my way out to feed and water the chickens, fed Riley the behemoth cat, and loaded my belongings in the truck for the 41 mile drive to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

0645- Parking was easy, but a GPS with pin point accuracy is required to navigate the campus hospital. After being directed to a myriad of incorrect locations, I finally heard some good information, and made my way to Radiology on the first floor where my catheter would be placed.

0715- After filling out the cursory registration paperwork, I spent my waiting room time hopelessly staring at the coffee machine across the room that held the magic elixir for my headache. No joy.

0800- With luggage in tow, I followed a tech to the Radiology pre/post op area who commented on my Harley teeshirt. She told me after a recent ride with a friend, she fell in love with motorcycles, and bought a scooter to begin the learning process :).

Shedding my street clothes for a spectacular hospital gown that was clearly designed by a woman (open in the back, really?!), I met my prep nurse Florina. Her job was to take vitals and start an IV on my wrist. Her accent indicated an Eastern European origin, so when I inquired, she told me to guess. My first pass was the Ukraine, but then I corrected it to Romania... Nailed it! So we had a conversation about my visit to Romania in 1976. Fun. The Doctor who came in to discuss the catheter placement procedure also had an Eastern European accent, and of course, I again inquired. Doc Anna is from Russia. (This visit is turning out to be a cornucopia of international healthcare professionals).

1000- Two cool male nurses rolled me into the operating room (OR) and prepped me for the surgery to insert a Trifusion catheter  into my chest. After informing them of the continuing and debilitating headache, they assured me they would give me a pain reliever. The med they first injected into my IV was a fun little narcotic called Fentanyl. but within seconds, I became nauseated and began to vomit, though because I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since midnight, my stomach was completely empty. (Dry heaves suck, by the way, and now I know why they require NPO). Fortunately, the guys were prepared and followed the Fentanyl with something like Narcan that just as quickly neutralized the adverse affects. (Note to self, you're allergic to Fentanyl!)

Once stable, they administered a mild sedation, and the Doctor entered the room from a secret door (he just appeared). A quick shave and a couple shots of local anesthesia in my chest, and he proceeded to slice and dice me better than any Ronco's Veg-o-matic could. One and done, they returned me to the pre/post-op Radiology group where I dozed between sips of ginger ale and tomato soup for several hours, finally without a headache.

1500- My good friend John stopped by and kept me entertained with stories and fellowship for the next few hours until I was finally assigned a room (E722 if you wanna stop by or send gifts, lol). Don't come if you or somebody close to you is sick though, 'cause they won't even let you get off the elevator. While in post op I also met Dr. Langston and NP Naomi, who both seemed ready to administer all necessary care.

1730- Transported to my room by Maria whose hubby is finishing his preliminary Marine Corps training at Camp Pendleton, she was Johnny-on-the-spot to thank me for my military service. OORAH!

After arriving to my own personal Kasbah of transplant facilities, I met my day nurse Kim. Fairly new to the game, she is a young gal from Michigan who is highly motivated, diligent and full of energy. My confidence in her is high.

1800- Kim passed me off to my night nurse Lori who is a seasoned professional with a great deal of experience, but also possesses a gentle spirit that was very welcome after the first half of the day. She made me feel like she was my advocate.

1835- I was finally able to order dinner, meat loaf with brown gravy, mashed potatoes and broccoli, Ginger ale and some orange sherbet. Dinner arrived at 1950 about the temperature of the floor, but I got some food in, finally.

Frustrated that the chemo wouldn't be ready until 2230 (10:30pm), I decided to catch a nap before the infusion because I discovered I would be required to chew on ice during the infusion (1/2 hr) and continue for 2 hours after to prevent blistering in my mouth. But napping proved to be impossible because I was constantly being interrupted by various techs and nurses wanting to fulfill their procedural requirements and check my catheter dressing as it was oozing a bit.

Also, though the swelling in my face had diminished, the low grade fever reached 100.8º, so antibiotics were on the menu.

2200- A couple of preliminary infusions to prevent nausea (very welcome after the morning I had) as well as meds by mouth dressed me for the big inning less than an hour away.


When Nurse Lori hooked me up to the bag of chemo, she was wearing full hazmat gear that was a bit unsettling. Knowing she was protecting herself from contacting what she was about to pump into my vascular system created an irony I have come to terms with. No problems during the infusion, and I even got a popsicle to chew on along with the ice that tasted "fuzzy."

Finally at 0100, the chemo was on board and all requisite ice chewed. The only thing left to do was change the dressing on the Trifusion catheter, and then sleep; mostly uninterrupted until 0500 this morning. Night sweats indicated the fever broke, and nurse Lori provided clean linens and another gown (designed by women)!

All in all, I survived the day with good medical care, many prayers from family and friends, and phone calls and face times with my beautiful wife. She even got to meet Lori, though Lori was wearing a surgical mask and I called her Cathy... no idea why.

I'll pick up from here in my next entry. Thanks for reading.

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