I am writing today from my work. CEO of Save My Ass Inc, reporting from Surgical Day Care. This is my first day back to work since learning of the return of this cancer thing.
Today my name is Bed #31. I am also known as Case #SJ-2012-3557. For privacy reasons, I’m told. It just seems so impersonal. When the nurses approach me bedside, they call me Karrie-Ann. My real name. I only use it when my health card is being exercised. Well Rick uses it too when he wants to make sure that he has my undivided attention.
As a little girl, I didn’t like the Ann attached to my name because I felt that the way it was pronounced by some people (especially when I was in trouble) that it sounded kind of snobbish to me. Now that I am a grown woman and realize that my young Mom at the time I was born was only 22 years old, gifted me with such a pretty name. I feel bad that I don’t use it more often. Even though my closest friends and family call me “Kar” which is what I prefer over Karrie, I don’t bother interrupting the nurses when they call me Karrie-Ann. Thank you Mom for such a lovely name.
So Mom is hanging out with me today, she is also part of this Bed #31 area. I have changed into the ever so familiar dark blue hospital gown (why it’s called a gown, who knows). The nurse has arrived to ask me the usual questions about allergies, why I’m here, blah, blah, time for the intravenous to be set up. My veins have all withdrawn from the surface of my body. I guess they’ve had enough. I hate when they set it up through the top part of your hands. Well my wish came true. I gave the nurse permission to slap my hands harder to get my veins to rise to the surface. She found one between my thumb and wrist and went for the poke. Ouch that smarted a bit but at least she was successful. Can’t say I’ve ever been poked there before. In the end, I think I actually preferred it there. It’s never too late to try something new, right?
Mom and I continue to read our trashy magazines about the rich & famous and all of the latest scandels. It occupies our brain from thinking about the real reason why we are hanging out here in Bed #31. Our last few moments before my physical freedom ends and we start fighting this high-jacker again. An hour later another nurse appears and says, we are ready for you Karrie-Ann. Kiss to Mom and I am wheeled away, for a little elevator ride and a 20 minute wait in a hallway at the radiology department staring a blank wall with paint chips. These beds seem quite hard after a couple of hours. Dr. Greg appears. The same doctor that performed my first port-a-cath surgery. He’s hot. Dark hair, blue eyes, need I say more?
I transfer myself to an even harder surface. I am surrounded by computer monitors and all kinds of high-tech equipment and I see my name on the screen. Darn, this is reality. They really want me. Well, they want case #SJ-2012-3557. Dr. Greg has already explained all the risks of the procedure with me. Blod clots, lung puncture, etc. etc. This time the port will be going in on my left side because of the issues that I had before with blod clots in my arm pits and because I have too much scar tissue in the old site. He explains to me where the port (the bump that I will always see and feel in my chest) will be located. There is no hiding this one. This one feels wierd because the tube part of it that is inserted into a main vein was put in at the base of my neck, not in the center, but just to the left. I can feel it when I swallow, cough, it’s odd, but I will get used to it. When I turn my head to the side, this tube pulls. I feel like I need to exercise it to stretch it. I know that is silly thinking, and that my body and brain just have to adjust to this new foreign object we will be carrying inside us. I am not complaining at all. This port is a super convenience thing. It makes the chemo administration so much easier. It’s a vein saver. I can get chemo through here, all future bloodwork draws and this new port also has the capability of CT injections. The contrast dye used in CT’s can be used through this port and it is delivered at a higher rate through your bloodstream than the normal method which I read makes for a better, clearer picture for the radiologists to read your scans. I am always learning stuff on this journey, and I feel it is so important that I share it with you in case you ever are in a situation where the information can be shared to help someone else.
The nurses and Dr. Greg and I are all discussing his recent cruise vacation while he is performing the procedure. I am awake for all of it. Local freezing, a sedative, dark protective glasses on me, Top 40 music, the atmosphere was nice. My blood pressure is great, 112/77. I am completely relaxed. Dr. Greg uses several words like “mosquito” when he wants a nurse to hand him something. I wonder what instrument or thing the mosquito is. They continually ask me how I am, I reply the usual answer which is “peice of cake”. The hardest part of the whole procedure is praying that I don’t break out into a coughing fit from this darn cold. All is good and the procedure only took about 30 minutes I would guess.
I graduate from Bed #31 to Bed #5 and shortly afterwards, Mom appears. She kept herself busy reading magazines, shopping in the gift shop, etc. I am so lucky that my Mom is supportive and loving. I am so grateful that she changed her work schedule to spend the day with me. Due to the sedative I cannot drive for 24 hours, so she graciously accompanied me to work today. Thank you Mom! I made you a promise quite some time ago that I will always have your back and here you are, having to carry me on yours. It’s not the way things are supposed to go.
No lifting anything over 10 pounds for 2 weeks. No big deal. I’ll be good in a couple of days. I am glad that I was blessed with a high pain tolerance. The last time I went through this I asked for 2 percocet for the hour ride home and they hit me right away, I broke out in sweats, shakes, and lost all control of keeping my eyes open and my head from spinning. They gave me a prescription for tylenol 3’s, but I don’t intend on taking them. This is the minor ouch stuff. I am not trying to be a hero, I just would rather feel what’s really going on rather than mask things. That’s how I judge how the healing is progressing.
I arrive home to find Rick with a kleenex box under his face. Not feeling good. My cold has reached him. We are a lovely pair tonight. Bed by 8 pm and so our cancer fight begins again. We feel like crap but our chins are in the air and although we are conjested and trying to breath normally, I know we can do this together.
As I drift off to sleep I head off to some happy places, I am thinking about our recent vacation.