Ode To The Pin Cushion

We left the doctor’s and headed for home to pack some clothes and personal items in a bag to take to the hospital At once I couldn’t imagine why I needed to pack things and I was unsure if we’d packed enough. We got to the hospital, scared and stunned and answered questions at the admissions desk.

Cancer. What was going to happen? What were Dr. Thomas and Dr. David talking about with their exchange of blah, blah, blah’s a little while ago back in the examination room? Cancer?

I think I kind of went into “adventure” mode a little bit because when we got to my assigned room, I began exploring, checking out the amenities, where the electrical outlets were so I could plug in my phone, what the bathroom was like, that sort of thing. Where was the nurse? She was supposed to meet us?

When she finally did come, she moved me to another room, closer to the nurses station. Oh, shit!

I settled in and nurses began to arrive, introducing themselves and someone came in getting a profile on me, asking me questions, some general and some private and at one point she asked Ariel to step out of the room for a moment so I could answer honestly whether or not I was a victim of domestic abuse.

It’s all a blur, that first day in my hospital room, but different doctors all came in throughout the day to introduce themselves and explain the different things that were going on and what they were going to be doing to me. So much information to process.

I was in a private room and Ariel stayed with me during the entire time, leaving only twice to go home and check on the mail and to shower, for which he got reprimanded for not using the shower in my bathroom.

One of the procedures that was going to be performed was the installation of a ureteric stent between my failing kidney and bladder to try to help relieve the water retention I was experiencing (I gained 20 pounds of water weight) and the grotesquely advanced swelling of my privates and my body from the waist down to my feet. The urologist said his first priority was to use an internal stent, which would be inserted through my penis, or if the stent did not work, a bag to collect the urine would be attached to my side until the condition cleared. I was ready for anything. My focus was to get better. Do what you have to, Doc! To be honest, I was relieved he was able to get it done using the first method.

stent  stent 2 This is what it looked like and how it was inserted. I was surprised because I had no idea what it was and that it was a big as it was. When it came out, back in December (the 18th) I got to see it. It was approximately 9 or 10 inches long. I had imagined it would be made of metal a was small thing because  I really had no idea how far apart the kidneys are from the bladder.  No wonder I failed biology in Junior High.

From Tuesday the 6 th on, it was a busy, busy time. The stent was inserted, I had a doppler scan on my legs to make sure I was getting enough oxygen flow through my system and to check for possible blood clots, I had the biopsy which showed for certain it was the Type B Lymphoma and had a bone marrow biopsy.

Quick funny story about the stent. Of course I had already been informed of the two possible ways it could go and I answered yet another battery of questions such as “do you know why you are in the hospital?”, “what is your name?”, I guess to make sure I was still of sound mind. Well, as Dr. Stent (we’ll call him) was finishing up my prep to get himself ready to do the deed, I said to him, “Let’s blow this clambake!” He turned and said, “What? I’m a Jew. What do I know from clams?”. We all laughed and we still reference that line from time to time.

I joked also with the nephrologist. He checked in with me pretty much daily keeping track of how my kidney was functioning, which they monitored with blood tests and urine output. At one point, taking from an old joke, I said, “When this is all over, will I be able to do the Mambo?” He was too quick for me and asked me, “Could you do it before?” So he henceforth became know as Dr. Mambo, for real, because we could never remember his name.

And I also had my chemo port installed and that was a bit of a fiasco. For all the different procedures I’d had done, I was wheeled around on a gurney, propped up as comfortably as they could get me and the tests were done with similar consideration because of my back. Imagine what a tree branch might feel like in your hand as you are about to snap it. That’s what I was feeling.

In order to do put the port in, in spite of my protests and quite audible cries of pain, they had to lay me flat. They tried to put a wedge pillow under my knees to help alleviate some of the pain. They instructed me that I really shouldn’t squirm because the table I was on was not much wider than I am. My head was turned to one side and covered with surgical paper, creating a tent so I had air to breathe. There was an opening to my left that faced a wall and a clock. That was a mistake because after they had me all set up and prepped I had nothing to do but watch the clock. And cry. And scream. And watch the minutes turn into an hour while we all waited for the surgeon to finish up with another patient. I begged the nurse who came around to where the opening was to try to keep me calm with conversation to please let me up. Please let me up. Please LET ME SIT UP! It was almost like a scene from The Excorcist and I was Linda Blair, minus the pea soup.

The actual surgery was a breeze by comparison. Because I have that Atlas tattoo right in the optimal spot for insertion, they had to decide how much lower they could go without cutting into the tattoo itself. Not that they didn’t want to mar poor Atlas, but the area was contaminated with the ink and they wanted a cleaner spot. They said if they could not work something as close as possible, they’d then have to go in through my nipple. That kind of made me wince, even over the fiery discomfort I was already going through.

get-attachment[1]  This picture is actually from the removal, which happened this past February. It looked the same, basically, with no visible lump where the port was and with that film of Dermabond across the incision, which is meant to come off in its own time. No pulling.

Bless that nurse’s heart, she tried the best she could to keep me calm and through conversation we discovered she was friends with the daughter of the guy who actually built my house back in 1954. She even said his name and it matched the imprint in cement of the front walk.

Back in my room, Dr. David dropped by to take a bone marrow biopsy which entailed my having to lay on my stomach while he twisted some auger-like thing into my hip bone and pulled out a sample of bone marrow. He showed it to me. It looked like a bloody and grainy inchworm.

bone marrow I’m assuming this is more or less what was happening back there while I was laying face down.

I was all set now for my first chemo treatment on Friday, the 9 th, so it was business as usual back in my room; trying to find something worth watching on the TV, playing Candy Crush on my phone, having the barrage of visitors; the food people with my meals, the clergyman, the newspaper guy and like clockwork, the nurses were in and out like they had been all week all hours of the day and night, taking blood, giving me pills, making sure I was eating and drinking and peeing and pooping. And by now I was totally theirs, my future was in their hands

 

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One Response to “Ode To The Pin Cushion”

  1. Melissa Says:

    I just have one question for you: What do I know from clams?

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