Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day two in full

11/16/06 DAY 2

5:00 am Up ready for day two.

5:45 am P/U recipient and head into downtown. It can be a 35 minute drive with no traffic or a two hour drive with heavy traffic. We hit the beginning of the moderate traffic so it took us about 45 minutes. Pretty good actually.

6:50 am Dropped off the car with valet parking at UPMC Presby (Presbyterian) and walked to registration. When we got there, we were the only ones in the waiting area. I was done with registration in 5 minutes then sent to radiology. As we got to their desk, I asked her how she was and she said “fine” but I also asked her if she would tell us otherwise…..”no, probably not” and we all laughed.

7:00 am Waiting to get my EKG, CXR and CT.

7:05 The receptionist came around to the few of us in the radiology waiting area and updated us on our orders status. She didn’t have my orders, but will call the doctor soon if they don’t come through and she could get a verbal “order”.

7:30 am I am looking around in the radiology waiting room and there are about 25 people filling the pink cushioned, wood frame chairs.

I wonder who is in for what.

The receptionist walked over to say my orders have arrived and I am in the “box”. I should be called shortly.

7:41 am I’m tired. I’m hungry. I don’t have hunger pains or growling but I can feel it. I was stupid and I didn’t eat last night. I cooked for the kids, but not for me. Dumb.

Yesterday, during my social work appointment, Karen asked if I had experienced PTSD. I had to laugh. I silently thought of the joke “no I enjoy it” but I though it would be disrespectful. So I said “no.” I told her I volunteered to go to Saudi the first time and that I would go again, if I could deploy with the same group or similar group of guys I went with in 1991. I went with US Air Force Desert Warfare instructors from Silver Flag Alpha. They are the AF cadre that teaches desert warfare and desert survival to all air crews, security police and other law enforcement professionals. I would go again.

8:00 am A nurse, Stacey, called me in to consult room 1 to prep me for the EKG. We chatted for a while and laughed. We talked small talk about kids, ourselves and other stuff. She set an IV and checked it with some saline. I was told it might hurt a bit as she checked the IV. It didn’t or I don’t remember it hurting. Then she passed me off to Julie for my EKG.

8:05 am Stacey handed my order sheet to Julie and warned her I wanted to take pictures. Of course Julie was slightly alarmed, but I assured her that they are not of her. Still a bit apprehensive, she took me through the large waiting room and across the hall to a small simple room filled with a bed, an EKG machine and standard exam room desk, sink and bland lighting. I told Julie that I was documenting my experience as a live liver donor and the photos are of things I am going through.

8:10 am In the EKG room, across form the Radiology reception area, Julie hooked me up. I asked her to be gentle when removing the sticky pads. She said she’s never removed any hair. I was thankful. J

8:15 am After the VERY short EKG test, she removed the pads and I went back to the reception area.

My left arm is aching a bit from the IV. If I can’t handle this, tomorrow’s biopsy and eventual surgery are going to be GREAT! NOT

8:20 am Heading to CT. I lay down on the bed, rack, whatever. The nurse put a blanket over me and said to pull my pants down to my knees. (words guys always want to hear). Well, I thought that I need to stop going commando to these doctor appointments.

I complied, and then lay there staring at the ceiling tiles. There were six hoses hanging. A vacuum, two oxygen, an evacuation hose and nitrous oxide. There was another one, but I couldn’t read the label. The lights, sounds and smells. All hospital. Once you experience them they just don’t leave. I asked the nurse to take picture of me as I lay in the CT. She did, and I was thankful.

She went away and I heard a male voice on the intercom directing me to “breath”. As I did, the lights on the CT machine lit up, the machine came alive with a whirrrrr then a sideways smiley face with its mouth open blinked and lit up green. Then he said “hold” and the face with its mouth closed, puffed cheeks and all, lit up green. Numbers counted down, 5,4,3,2,1….. I repeated this several times as my body slid in and out of the CT.

There was a long wait. Several minutes.

The radiation tech came in. He explained how the contrast solution will affect my body.

Once it goes in, it will feel very warm, almost hot. It will also feel like I have to pee. There might also be a metallic taste in my mouth.

He hooked up the contrast and walked out. Blue lights were blinking on the IV/contrast machine. The intercom sounded “please put your left hand up on the machine, palm down.”

The whirring started. I heard the contrast pump kick on and saw the plunger push the clear fluid into the IV. My arm felt warm then my chest, thighs, hands and feet. I felt it in my butt, but I didn’t feel like I had to pee – as I was warned. Nor did I get the metallic taste. I do need to brush my teeth again though. J

Breathe in….hold….whirrrr…..I roll back in…..breath…..hold…..back out I go…..breath…..I wait. The CT grinds away. Whirrrrrrrrrr.

This activity takes about 5 minutes then I am done.

The nurse checks my orders and said she can take my IV out. I am told to drink lots of fluids to clear the contrast out of the kidneys. When she gets ready to pull the IV and tape off my arm, she apologizes in advance if she pulls my hair. I said it’s okay and then I asked “what if I like it?”

She was speechless.

I laughed as she stood there. Not sure what to say.

She turned around then back to remove the IV. She hesitated at pulling the tape off and the IV out. I know she had something going through her mind as she removed the tape and IV. I could see it in her eyes.

We walked out of CT1, turned right then left down the hall. I chided with her about my statement.

She was still a bit speechless as she opened the door to the radiology reception area.

I thanked her as I ended up back at 8:40 am.

9:40 am Head to Xray. I was asked to remove my clothes from the waits up and put on a hospital gown. The dressing room is very small. Four lockers and a small bench. Two lockers are open and another has a key in it. Since I have my camera, I chose the unit with a key. Luckily I only had to take my shirts off of else I would have to deal with the curse of the commando again. LOL

It’s warmer in this waiting area than in the radiology area. People come and others go off as our names are called.

9:49 am I got two chest x-rays. Front and side.

I mentioned that x-rays haven’t changed much in 100 years. I was corrected byt eh tech when she said they are digital now.

Coolness…I replied.

I sit back to wait for their short review of the x-rays. I can hear the machines humming behind me waiting for the next shot.

10:15 I made it Pulmonary at the Montefiore building. This is where most of the appointments are anyway but on floor 7. I am heading to the 6th floor. I don’t have cell access here. No blogging.

10:20 am I get called to the pulmonary test. I sat in a little box that looked like the cab of a snowcat. I asked where the treadmill was and she said they don’t do the treadmill for this test, but she hears it a lot.

I put my mouth on a device. Told to breath normally, then take a deeeeeeepppp breath very very quickly. Then exhale as fast as I can as much as I can until my lungs are empty. Then breathe in quickly. I do this several times. The first was okay. The second go ‘round I exhaled so much that I started to get tunnel vision and my auditory senses (my hearing) began to diminish. I started to lose the sounds of the fan humming in the room. It was a strange feeling. I mentioned that it felt like I was going to pass out. The nurse said no one has ever done that and that I wasn’t to be the first because the paperwork was too long. I was done by 10:30.

10:30 am we headed over to Children’s to find my wife and daughter. We went to the 4th floor since they were there yesterday. The nurse said they have not checked in today. So I decided it was lunch time and we would try to find them via phone call.

We walked to UPMC Presby again for the umpteenth time and headed to the 11th floor and cafeteria.

12:05 pm Done with lunch. All four of us ate together. We had burgers, salads Pittsburgh style (with fries mixed in) a banana, cottage cheese and a rootbeer.

My wife to my daughter home and we headed back to Montefiore to catch a shuttle to the Holiday Inn where the Comprehensive Heart Center is located. The shuttle takes about 5 minutes. You then walk through part of the garage then up one floor. We were here about an hour early. The building, like most hospitals, is a bit confusing. On the first floor there are three offices. A, B and C. I got lucky by picking “B” the first time.

12:35 pm I was handed some records and sent up to the “M” floor, room 60. M060. We arrived and no one was in the waiting room. I’m sure since it’s lunch time there isn’t much going on right now.

1:00 pm Things were stirring. People started to arrive a few left. But I haven’t been called yet.

1:23 I was called into get my 2D echo of my heart.

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