Posts Tagged ‘ureteral stent’

Here’s Your Little Friend

June 10, 2014

I have to backtrack a little bit because I forgot a curious little tidbit. I thought it was after my first PET scan, but looking back at what I wrote last week, it couldn’t have been so it must have been during session 4, back on October 17. Sorry, just momentary a case of chemo-head! It happens.

I had asked Dr. David if it were somehow possible for me to see what my tumor looked like and he was more than happy to oblige. Out came his iPhone and after a few clicks, there it was in glorious black and white, the image from my original CT scan. He pointed out my bladder and my kidney and the tumor, which, if I was looking at the correct image, looked to be in the shape of the state of South Carolina and it seemed to take up most of my mid-section.

What puzzled me was how the stent fit between the bladder and the kidney. Well, first of all, I had no idea at that time what the stent looked like and I pictured it in my mind as a smallish object, maybe 2 inches or so, made of metal, that somehow pierced those two organs. I never questioned it, though that would explain the occasional pinch I would feel up inside. That’s a lesson learned, for sure. Ask questions. It was only later, after it was removed that I learned what it really looked like (and I posted a picture of it early on in this series). Here’s a composite of how I remember seeing the tumor on Dr. David’s phone, except it was shades of gray. Hmm, shades of gray, sounds like a great title for a book.

stent-sc

 

On Wednesday, December 18, I had my appointment with Dr. Clambake to have the stent removed. Everything was starting to get buttoned up on this chapter of my life, one step at a time.
The receptionist at Dr. Clambake’s had said, over the phone, the procedure was easily done in the office and I couldn’t imagine such a thing, considering the ceremonious procedure to put it in, having to put me under and have me sign all kinds of waivers in case I never awoke from the anesthesia. Would they put me under again? Would I be awake? Would I bleed? Would it hurt? Knowing how it went in, I joked with whomever I felt discussing it with that I wish I could send “it”, meaning my “you know” ahead and have it taken care of. I stopped that joke when the nurse who was prepping me didn’t appear to find it amusing. Plus it was coming out, so why continue with it?

After I got all through with all the requisite paperwork the nurse brought me into the room and had me empty my bladder and change into a paper gown but keep my shoes on so I didn’t slip on the floor. Then she explained what was going to happen on this very evening, that I might experience blood in the urine for a day or two, that I might have phantom sensations that the stent was still in there for a while. Great scare tactics!

Enter Dr. Clambake, who appeared more towering and imposing than in his hospital scrubs back in August. Dr. Clambake became Dr Let’s Get This Done! But why wasn’t Nursey Nurse Nurse Nurse leaving the room? Oh no, don’t tell me she’s going to watch. Wait, he’s an accomplished doctor, he doesn’t need her help. “Lay back, Mr. Sigley”. Oh God, she IS staying and assisting. Oh God, she’s gonna see me naked. Then I heard them speak in medical jargon for a few and I felt something going on down there. I think she was holding the light, or the scope or playing Candy Crush, I’m not sure, but Dr. Clambake said “Okay, it’ll just be a minute” and I felt some pressure like I was going to, well, go and it reminded me of the story both my mother  and my uncle always recount of the time when I was a baby and he was changing my diaper for the first (and probably last) time and didn’t realize he needed to cover my “area” because I got him good, like a Roman fountain.

“Aaaand here’s your little friend,” Dr. Clambake said, dangling that 9 or 10 inch long piece of cord over me.

 

stent 2

“You’re done”. Do I need any antibiotics? “No, get cleaned up and dressed and go home. You’re fine! Nurse, give him a dose of “X” for pain. Call me if you need anything!” And there went Dr. Clambake to parts unknown.

The entire actual procedure lasted less than two minutes, if it even took that long. I did as he said, took the pain pill when we got to a restaurant, Carrabba’s, for dinner, which also served a as a celebratory one. Hey, any reason for a party, right?
I never did experience any ill effects except a minimum of burning during the first pee post-stent and I never did have any phantom sensations of it still being in place, but I guess they have to let you know what might happen so they’re covered.

 

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Ode To The Pin Cushion

April 1, 2014

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