Visit to the Emergency Department

Tuesday would normally have been a chemo day, but a series of events set me up for a procedure on Friday. While I do believe that God is with each of us, especially when we need him, I was having a hard time feeling the support….but I am getting ahead of myself.

This is long, so I will do it in two separate blog posts. This one will focus on the ED visit. If you want to skip the story and go straight to the bottom line, see the next post.

WARNING: This post contains explicit talk about bodily functions.

Sunday

I had trouble peeing all day. Drinks were going in, but nothing was coming out. Nothing.

That night, I called the oncologist on call (not mine) who recommended that I drink two more large glasses of water, wait two hours, and if nothing changes, head to the ED.

I left for the ED around 11:15. Because the boys were already asleep and it would be scary to wake up and find neither parent at home, my husband stayed home and I Ubered in alone. I was otherwise feeling good and knew that I could call him if I needed him.

Before I left, I texted my energy healer. Just before I reached the ED, she texted back that she would work on me.

This was a new ED for me, and I was impressed with the operations and the people. The check-in woman quickly assessed that I have a complicated history and decided to look it up rather than make me go through it all. Her approach and attitude were above and beyond anything I have experienced in an ED.

Very early Monday morning

My initial ED nurse, Tori, was wonderful. We bonded over kids (as in, when they wake you at 5:30 a.m, iPods are okay, but snacks are not – you have to draw the line somewhere!) and laughed alot. She gave me a cup to pee in and said, “I have to give you this cup, and you have to try, even if we know nothing is going to happen”

The floodgates opened. I am always in awe of how my energy healer works!

But I was there, so we went through the tests. Blood tests, including kidney function, which was fine. Ultrasound, to figure out if my bladder was actually empty. (They couldn’t tell.) And then the resident doctor in charge of my care wanted to do a CT scan.

I fought this scan. I argued that I was due for a scan in two weeks and I hate extra radiation. The resident doctor thought I was being ridiculous – I’ve had so many, what was one more scan? I wanted to flip him off. He listed lots of low-probability but scary outcomes. I’m used to playing the odds, and I’m feeling strong these days so pushed back on them all. He pointed out that I might need a stent and waiting two weeks could endanger my health. That resonated somewhere deep within that I didn’t want to acknowledge, but that internal vibration made me consider it a little.

I told him that I would call my husband, and he asked what information I would get from that.

“He’s a radiologist.” Thankfully, that shut him up and he walked away for awhile so I could figure this out. I called my husband for his opinion, as well as the oncologist on call. They both said it could go either way.  I finally gave in and did the scan.

The CT tech was super nice and made that procedure go as smoothly as ever, and when I returned, I asked for a bottle of water to help flush the contrast out of my body. The gentleman helping me told me that they didn’t have bottled water but he could get a pitcher of water for me. I cringed, thinking that he was going to get it from the bathroom sink, but when he returned with the pitcher, he told me that it was reverse osmosis and it actually tasted really clean. Life was looking up.

Time for the shift change, so I had a new resident doctor and a new nurse in charge of me. The new resident doctor told me that the CT scan showed tumor pressing on my bladder. No surprise there. She gave me my exit papers (I was really impressed with her efficiency – that part typically takes a long time), and told me to sign them and give them to the nurse when she came to disconnect my IV.

So I waited. And waited. And then, I don’t know what triggered it, but I started vomiting.

I carry bags with me, so I was prepared for this, but I needed help. I couldn’t find the trash can. The nurse call button was far out of reach. So I started yelling for help. A cleaning person came by and said he would find my nurse.

When the nurse came, she took one look at me and said, “This changes everything. We have to admit you.”

NOOOO!

I tried to explain that vomiting is just what I do in a medical setting. I showed her the 15 bags that I carry with me. No dice.

She left and the resident appeared, who explained that they needed to admit me and if I left, it would be against medical advice. Fine with me. It was after 3 a.m. I wanted to go home.

The nurse returned and asked if I wanted my IV to be disconnected now. As opposed to when??? She said, “Well, in case you are admitted.”

“No. Disconnect me now please. I am going home.” I had to reiterate this a few times, but she finally disconnected me.

“The attending physician would like to talk with you.”

“Fine.”

More waiting. Then my nurse took me to where the attending was. As we walked there, I noticed that I was the ONLY patient remaining in the ED. All the other beds were neatly made and ready for the next influx. All the doctors and nurses were far, far away, all in one area, typing on their computers and iPhones. I waited awhile for the attending, then said, “I’m just going to leave.” I signed the papers that I had and headed out.

I was finally free, and hoped that I didn’t need to return. When I got into the Uber, the driver offered me a breath mint. At first I declined, then remembered that maybe I needed one…..

As life continues…

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. Two weeks ago, when I went for chemo…

  1. My white cell count was smack dab in the normal range. Yay!!!
  2. They lowered the dose of both the Ativan and Benadryl, which gave me less of a hangover the next day and
  3. The chemo itself went well.

So, all good, and I don’t take it for granted. Thank you.

During these past two weeks, I’ve had much less pain and far fewer instances of instantaneous drop-dead exhaustion. Still, I live as though I might return to all that. Possibly because my life has been like that for so long, I am in the habit of living that way. I continue to carefully allocate my energy, not exerting myself too much (read: at all). When I do have abdominal pain, I stop and wait and see if it is simply passing or planning to linger. Mostly, it passes! But again, I don’t take it for granted.

My life might also continue to feel the same because so much of what we do is part of the flow of our lives from day to day. For example, I have always loved to cook. But because I haven’t been able to reliably cook, I have fallen out of the rhythm of cooking. Now, when I want to cook something, it feels like a big project. It is the same with other aspects of life, like riding bikes with the kids or doing projects around the house. Anything I do takes a lot of start up energy. But I’m working on that!

The kids and my husband are chugging along with our summer plans and I’m grateful when friends draw me out to do something new and different, or even to just connect. I hope you are enjoying the season where you are.

I head back into chemo on Tuesday, August 16 and appreciate any prayers and positive thoughts you can send my way for a safe and effective chemo session. I truly appreciate your support.

Love and blessings,
Marie

Connections in Various Forms

Although I like to picture myself the way I have always been, sometimes I get shocking glimpses of my body that I cannot ignore. For example, I walked by a mirror and wondered “Who is that woman with the super skinny arms?” (Yes, one can be too thin.) Or one of the kids recently asked me to go bike riding with him, and when I said yes, my husband noted that I had not been able to move from the same spot for almost three hours – was biking a realistic possibility?

I don’t want to see myself like that; it just feels too limiting. Inside, I feel like the same person and I don’t like to think that my body has changed at all.

In the meantime, I again experienced a series of morning sneezes. They started a few weeks ago – two or three sneezes just after waking. Usually, sneezing really hurts my abdomen but these did not. Still, they came one after another every single morning before I got out of bed. Over the weeks, they became four, then five. The other day, I counted six sneezes in a row.

At sneeze number six, I finally remembered that my grandfather used to do the same thing, so I laughed and asked if this was him.

The sneezing stopped. I smiled, thinking that meant he got his message across, letting me know that he was with me.

A few hours later, standing in the driveway of a friend’s house, I remembered that morning and the sneezing. I laughed at myself and decided I was making too much of a coincidence.

Was it really you? I asked him in my mind as I looked from the driveway to the street.

As if in answer, a landscaping truck drove by. In large letters on the side of the truck was the name of the company, which was the same as my grandfather’s last name.

Okay. I can be skeptical but honestly, this stuff is such a kick! I’m glad that we remain connected to those we love, regardless of the form we each take.

We all grow and change form, in one way or another. We gain and lose weight. We build muscle and lose it. We change our perspectives and beliefs. We wear fancy clothes and sweatpants. Our hair changes length, color and volume. We age. My own physical form may be changing but, like my grandfather who is no longer here in physical form, we can still connect in the ways that we are able. And it can be so much fun.

Regardless of your form today – whether this is a fabulous day or you have areas where you would like to be “better” – I hope you have fun connecting with someone or something you love.

Blessings and joy always,
Marie