Sunday, July 29, 2012

The week that was...Day 1

Hello again folks, I guess I'm on a roll here blogging about life and everything.  This is the third one in about the past month, that seems to be a new record for me.  Well after a nice little two wheel therapy for a few hours today (i'm tellin' ya, you gotta try it), I find myself back at my favorite little caffeine shack with my laptop and a few thoughts rolling around in my head.  Probably a good time to update everyone on the events of the week, as it was an eventful week.  WARNING:  this blog entry may be a little more graphic that what you want, but hey, I'm not forcing you to read it.  If a juvenile and crude sense of humor offends you, well then...........ha, you just don't know what you are missing, after all everyone knows that C.F. really stands for coughs and farts.

So when I last left you, I was getting ready to head into three days of fright-fest.  I was really glad I wrote last week because it was good for me to let some of the anxiety out and put it down in front of me, as well as the rest of the cyber world.  After getting only a few hours sleep on Sunday night due to little CF Rider deciding she needed some orange juice as I was getting into a deep sleep at 2:15am, then proceeding to want to get in bed with us to doze back off.  Now this poses a particular problem because as wonderful as little CF Rider is, she sleeps like a spasmatic Mexican jumping bean who is being attacked by a wasp.  The Mrs. and I usually don't sleep too well with crane kicks to the head or punches to the kidney area, but we were able to put her back in her bed after a little while without sustaining any concussions or need for bandages.  I dozed back off for what seemed like 10 minutes and then the alarm started going 5:00am.  Now those who know me well know that I am not much of a morning person, in fact if I ruled the world the day would start at noon, but alas I must abide by the schedule made for me by someone else and be at the hospital clinic at 7:00.  So hitting the snooze button on my phone a couple of times, I drudged out of bed and got ready.  Well as ready as I was gonna be for three days of poking, prodding, and probing.  Kind of hard to get yourself psyched up for that kind of thing.  Looking back, my alarm clock song probably should have been "Eye of the Tiger" or something from any other Rocky movie.

So I get to the hospital clinic a few minutes early and am amazed at the ease of getting a parking spot on one of the lower levels of the deck.  First stop, the lab for "a little bloodwork".  I put that in quotes because I found myself almost begging the lab tech to please leave a little for me after what seemed like 30 minutes with a needle in my arm and 20 gallons of blood taken.  Mind you, they want you to be what is called NPO before most of these tests, which means nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before.  So now, I'm up early, no coffee, no Rice Crispy treats for breakfast, and now almost no blood.  I probably would have kicked a puppy for farting in my direction at this point (not really, I would never kick a puppy), but you can imagine I was not at my best.  The tech. then says I need to pee in a cup and my response (in my head) was...Really!?  You want me to pee in a cup only about an hour after my wake up pee and having not had anything to drink, surely you jest.  Well I managed to fill the cup, yep I'm the man, and then I come back out to find the lab. tech as she said not to leave quite yet.  I went back out and she shoved a huge tank in my face and said this is for your 24 hour urine collection.  Okay no problem, I've done this before.  Then she said wait while I collect some things for your stool collection.  Cool, I thought, I didn't realize that furniture was part of the pre-transplant evaluation and we could use a couple of good ones at the bar in our kitchen.  She came back with a couple of popscicle sticks and 3 little cards.  I said, you expect me to make something out of that to sit on, what am I McGyver or something.  She didn't find that too funny.  I did so I laughed a little and left the lab.  The game was on.  I found my humor button and figured I might as well make the most of my time at this place and maybe get a few yucks along the way.  Look out clinic, the short little tattooed motorcycle riding jokester was on the loose.  Who would be my next victim?

On to my next appointment which was in Radiology for a sinus x-ray.  No big news to report on this part as I'm pretty sure there wasn't a whole lot up there for them to see.  They should have gotten a pretty good picture of my sinuses, especially since I left my brain at home that day, as it would not be needed until Day 3 at the Neuropsych. evaluation.  Next stop was up at the Pulmonary department.  I'm pretty familiar with all the folks up there as this is where I go for my normal 3 month checkups.  This is where I was scheduled to have a TB skin test.  You know, the one where they blow up these little bubbles under your skin with tiny needles and then you hope and pray these little bubbles go away.  Well lucky me the nurse asked if I minded if a brand new nurse could perform the test.  Uhhh, okay, I mean how can you screw up a TB test.....right.  Luckily the only thing she messed up was going a little too deep on the first bubble and that drew a little blood.  Not so on the other two sites, although at this point that may be due to the laboratory not leaving any left.  

Next up were my PFTs (pulmonary function tests for you civilians and non-medical types) and something that I was a little unfamiliar with, an ABG.  The PFTs are tests that pretty much sum up how well you breathe.  I've been doing these for over 30 years now.  The technology has changed over time, but the tests are pretty much the same.  Well my PFTs were down right about 20%.  Yes, you read that right, 20% lung function.  That means you could cut out one and a half lungs of a normal person and you would still have more lung function than me.  Now, it's not really as simple as that sounds, but it's the best way I can describe it.  A lot of people say that having CF is like breathing through a straw.  I'm not all sure about that, all I know is that 20% kind of sucks, but somehow I make due with what I've got.  Most folks at this level would be on oxygen 24/7, but for some baffling reason I don't rely on oxygen at all.  Mind you, I'm not out running marathons with these airbags, but I get around okay.  Next came the ABG test and I was quickly reminded what this was.  For those of you lucky enough to have never had one of these, let me fill you in.  It is where the nurse takes her hand and places it on your wrist to feel for a pulse.  Once she has located it, she keeps her hand there for a moment to make sure you have a strong rhythm there, and then she takes a needle AND FREAKING JABS IT INTO YOUR WRIST AND DIGS AROUND UNTIL SHE GETS IN THE ARTERY.  Holy freaking hell does that hurt!!!  I said all sorts of words that would make a sailor embarrassed, at least in my head.  All I could do on the outside was take deep breaths and pray that I wouldn't strangle the nurse with the gauze wrap.  Did I mention that it hurts, badly.  Oh and did I mention that after about 3 minutes of moving the needle around inside my wrist that she was not able to penetrate the artery with the needle?  And did I mention that they had to do it the other wrist?!  Luckily another nurse came in and took over doing the other wrist and she hit it right away and the blood was drawn.  One nurse said "thank you Jesus", the other said "praise God", I said "you're lucky to be given another day here on earth".  No, not really.  I simply said "Amen".  I left Pulmonary with 6 extra holes in my body, both wrists wrapped in gauze, 3 bubbles in my forearms and a wicked jones for some coffee.  Time to hit Starbucks before the next stop on the pain train.

So the next stop was at Nuclear Medicine.  I had no idea what to expect here, but with a name like Nuclear Medicine I knew it was serious.  Little did I know how serious it was.  Hehehe, time to break a little off the funny bone.

SO I get registered and sit down in the waiting area for, dun dun dun, NUCLEAR MEDICINE....okay that sounded much cooler in my head than it does on screen, but you add the sound effects on your own.  Before I can even get the phone out of my pocket to check out a little Facebooger, the girl tech. comes in and says Mr. Johnson.  I look around the waiting area, mind you there is no one else in there at the time, then I say well I guess that means me.  She just stares at me with a blank look on her face.  Uh-oh, this should be interesting.  I try to make a little small talk as we head back to the area where they will perform the test, partially because I'm a little nervous because I have no idea what this test is about and partially because it was just awkward silence after my little waiting room humor.  We get back to the testing area and there is two other folks waiting and I'm thinking wow this is some serious stuff if they need three people just to take me on.  I come to find out that two of them are relatively new to the arena and the other is the wily old veteran who is there to monitor the rookies.  Okay, now I get it.  The young girl tech. then asks me to sit down and proceeds to ask me  "Mr. Johnson, do you know why you're here?'  Ahh, she teed that one up just perfect.  I responded with a dead straight face and said, "yes, I am here as part of a top secret government mission to create the ultimate humanized weapon undetectable to foreign enemies."  That was it, I nailed it.  It was an Oscar worthy performance.  I almost wanted to stand up and give an acceptance speech.  Instead, I got a blank stare from the tech.  I think the veteran over in the corner gave a small chuckle, but that was all.  You remember the Charlie Brown Halloween special when they are all out trick or treating?  One character says, "I got a lollypop", another says "I got bubble gum", and Charlie Brown says "I got a rock", well that was me in Nuclear Medicine....I got a rock.  Anyway, on with the testing.  The young girl tech then lays me down on a table and asks me to raise my legs.   Hey, hey, get your head out of the gutter, this isn't no 50 Shades of Grey stuff here.  I lay down on the table and she injects something into my arm.  Turns out it's just some kind of minor radioactive chemical to give them a better look at the blood flow in my lungs.  After she withdraws the needle I then ask her how long until I start growing massive muscles and turn green....again nothing, no reaction.  I mean this girl had ice water in her veins.  The other young tech at least knew of my Incredible Hulk reference and then he started yammering on about Batman, yada yada, yada.  I was hellbent at this point on getting a laugh from young girl tech.  They did the procedure, I got off the table, and they told me I was free to go.  One last shot, and I took it.  As the girl walked me out of the testing area I asked her, "So how long does it normally take to eliminate the nuclear waste, I'm ready to drop this bomb?"  Stone-faced she kept on and told me to take a right after the double doors.  Man, that girl was cold.  I needed to go outside to thaw out from her chill.  Tough crowd those Nuclear Medicine folks.  Might be a while before I go back and work that room.

At this point I had a couple of hours to eat lunch before having our Transplant Education class.  Mrs CF Rider came up and met me for lunch and to hang out the rest of the afternoon.  We had some sushi from the hospital cafeteria, which is really good by the way, then got another cup of coffee before heading to class.  I told her of my morning jokes....she laughed.  That's all I really needed.  She took a picture before class started of her hand on top of mine on top of the transplant book.  She posted it on Facebooger with the caption "Together, we got this."

Yeah baby, you're right, we got this....together!

"Dream Big, Ride Free, Breathe Easy"


Stay tuned to this local blog channel for "The week that was...Day 2.

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