So the second blog is here. The first one was relatively easy in terms of topic, introduce myself and give a brief overview of my brushes with the big “C”. This one's proving a little harder for some reason. I mean it's not like I'm short of topics, it’s more like over whelming thoughts of ‘where do I begin?’ so I thought I'd share a little of what it’s like as an out patient: a day in the life of a hospital visit.
I'm currently sitting in the Wellington blood and cancer day ward where it's very noisy. It took my nurse 25 minutes to coax enough blood out of one of the 3 lumens on my Hickman to fill the 3 tubes required for today's test (full blood count and the level of the immune suppressant drug cyclosporin in my system) .
They always ask me what lumen works best and no matter which one I say, I'm wrong every time. Fickle fiddly lines. The source of so much stress and anxiety yet they're infuriatingly impossible to live without.
When I was first sick I was so grossed out with the PICC that was put in my arm. I found the procedure pretty traumatic actually, as most things were that year. I hated it Until it got a bug in it of course then I begged and pleaded and cried to keep it. To no avail, the Dr’s were determined; out it came. From then on I was much nicer to it and ‘affectionately’ called it Mr PICC. I figured if it felt less unwanted maybe it wouldn't get sick again. Whatever coping mechanism helps right? I had 2 that year and 2 this year. Plus my current Hickman. Which of course I love….
It's the last place you’d come for Peace and quiet. Various machines beep, people's call bells signal loudly to nurses that assistance is needed and to my right a patient is trying to privately cry to one of the palliative care nurses (they provide support during the transplant process so it's not necessarily end of life stuff). Another across from me sounds sick , coughing and spluttering, and the eye contact made with others in the room conveys a unity of fear; please don't let me catch that!
Then there’s all kinds of conversations. I heard a guy of a similar age who had a transplant at the same time as me being told her was getting admitted to the ward. Gulp. A joke is shared with my favorite nurse; we both laugh. Another patient is vehemently denying having received a blood test card last time he was in. The chase is usually on mute; but today has the volume up. The lovely cancer society volunteer is making his hot drink rounds. I’m impatiently patient as I check the time for what feels like the millionth time; 2 hours 15 minutes.
Then I hear the Dr approaching and its finally my turn. He has good news too; I'm free to go as my blood counts are all fine (meaning I don't require any transfusions) and, I only have to go in twice a week from now on, instead of 3.
You might imagine you'd then hear me scrambling to get the hell out of there.