Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 82 - Dr Mahon and the VAD call

I am not sure if I'll be energetic enough to update tonight after getting my VAD, but will try. "Posting may be sparse," as they say, while I wear off my anesthesia. So if there is nothing more tonight, it just means I'm sleeping well (again. Last night I slept 10 hours and woke 10 minutes before my alarm--love it!).

I did want to tell you about how my VAD got arranged because it's a pretty good story. First I should tell you what a VAD is, huh? A Venous Access Device is a little implantable device that attaches to a blood vessel on one side and pokes up just under the skin on the other side. Nurses who know how to do the magic with special needles and then access a big vein directly without having to poke me five or six times or to dig around. It is put in under a little bit of anesthesia in the operating room and when it's done and healed will look like some one has left a stack of three nickels under my skin near my clavicle. When I get chemo and blood products, the nurses can just use that instead of giving me an IV (that may or may not last/work very well) every time.

Initially, Dr. Hill, Terry and I decided that I would just get my VAD in Lebanon before my chemo next Friday. Then, when the question of if I'd need chemo early came up (see yesterday's post), we decided to try to get it sooner. Dr. Hill called his usual go-to person who said they were having a bad week and he would do it if it were a real emergency, but otherwise, really couldn't. Dr. Hill knows this guy well enough that he knew what that really meant so we decided I would get it in Manchester. Trouble is, Dr. Hill does not know anyone in Manchester and Dr. Manno was out Tues and Wed this week. It seemed the easiest and most straightforward way was for me to arrange it.

My first thought was that I would call one of the physician assistants for the surgical group in Manchester and ask her to arrange it. Unfortunately, it was her day off. I called one of the surgeons and he also did not answer. I should mention that I am doing all of this while lying on my stomach with the top half of my butt exposed because I am being prepped for a bone marrow biopsy. Finally, I developed a molecule of common sense and called their office and asked for the doctor on call. I felt a little bad about bypassing the normal channels (I try really hard just to be a regular patient), but if the situation were reversed, I would want the doctor who was also a patient to just call me so I decided it was OK to "press one if this is a doctor's office" after some soul searching.) The connection was horrible and I didn't recognize Dr. Mahon's voice at first and half of what he said and I said was lost in static so finally after saying "who is this?" about six times, we figured out the basic players in the conversation.

Next, I had to ask under the same circumstances (while not moving because my backside is now a sterile area) if he could place a VAD. At first he thought I wanted a Hickman (which is sort of like a super-PICC and has a bunch of tubes outside my body--not what I wanted) and I had to try desperately to remember the name for the kind of device I wanted (I failed--still don't know it). All the while, every other sentence in each direction is being lost to static and I am wondering when the first shot of lidocaine into my upper butt/lower back is going to occur. I am imagining trying to speak a coherent sentence without changing my tone of voice while Beth injects.

Dr. Mahon sensibly asked for the name of my doctor and called Dr Hill and not more than ten minutes later, Dr Mahon's nurse called me (I'm still lying on my stomach with a half bared butt, but now there is a big needle sticking out of it) to tell me that I should expect a call from CMC scheduling and that they'd do it tomorrow (now today).

I'm ready! I have not eaten since midnight nor drunk since ten so I am thinking the pillow I just finished would be tasty with a little dijon mustard. I am supposed to be there at 2:30, expecting to get surgery at 3:30 and home for dinner by 5:30, blogging by 8:30 if all goes according to plan. If not, I'll try not to wake the neighbors with my snoring.

Hoping for a solid eight hours for all of us (except those who are supposed to be up all night--I wish you your eight hours when you want them).

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