Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 95 - home again, home again!

Here are my statistics for this consolidation:
doses of chemo: 6
visitors (counted only once/person):6
meals I ordered delivered correctly by hospital staff: 8/13
meals I ordered delivered correctly by commercial take out staff: 1/1
how happy I am to be home now: infinity

Compared to consolidation #1, this one was much easier. I feel completely "with it" now (remember I was quite "without it" after my last one); I am a little tired, but not overwhelmingly so. It was harder at the beginning, however, I think, because I had five weeks off instead of the previous measly four so I was starting to see that I could feel normal if I just kept off the poisons. I was not quite so willing to get back on them as I had been the first time.

Another difference is that this time (as is highlighted above) the food service was sending in random meals at some points. I was not all that excited about eating all the time anyway (one of the LNAs said to "eat like it's medicine" and I often have to) and to have something I wouldn't like under good circumstances show up is not that helpful. On the other hand, it became a little funny eventually to see what ridiculous things might show up on the tray. Vegetarian chili? No, sorry, pork roast. Entertainment is always welcome even if random foodstuff is not. Anyway, I'm home now and had Green Bean gorgonzola salad and pesto/mozzarella/tomato sandwich for dinner. I'm stuffed and it clearly made up for several of the "medicine meals" eaten at the hospital.

A second difference is that I expanded my walks a bit. I had previously seen the signs for the "Albert Schweitzer" trail, but had never followed them because I think I felt a little fragile and didn't want to potentially stray that far from the hospital. This visit I was feeling a little more self-confident and stronger and crossed the road (after googling the trails and memorizing their routes). It turns out the trails are completely on hospital land and are about one million times nicer than the circumferential hospital trail (like, they are real woods trails that go up and down and have old trees around and roots across the path and everything). This was good for morale, too.

A final difference was that this time I officially became too uninteresting for the residents' team and was followed by the nurse practitioner. Whether or not I'm interesting is somewhat debatable, of course. I am able to grant immediately that medically I am the dullest patient on the floor (happily!), but I think by virtue of the fact that I'm a practicing doc myself I have a thing or two to offer to residents that is actually hard to get in other ways. On the other hand, they may have gotten a lot of that in their first day with me (who knows what the heart absorbs when?).

Be that as it may, initially, no one explained to me that being on the nurse practitioner's service meant that the attending would still be seeing me. This was a fairly reasonable assumption because my first day on the NP team, the attending did not round on me (the fellow had and that counts for administrative purposes and I was spending a lot of time on the afore-mentioned trail so he couldn't find me, but didn't leave a note or call so I didn't know). I thought it meant that all the faces I had grown accustomed to would evaporate and I was feeling quite abandoned. (note the recurrent problem: goodbye not said) But guess what happened that was really, really nice? The intern who had been to busy to do more than the minimum in the morning had promised to come back to chat and he did. He was under absolutely no obligation to. I was no longer his patient. He could easily have stuck his head in and said something perfunctory or he could have come in and had a short chat with me, but he stayed for a long while--asked questions he didn't have to, answered questions of me he didn't have to. I was touched and impressed. I am quite sure he's going to be really good. Then this morning, I went for a walk (to get the coffee that I have discovered I can stand) and I saw the intern again. He said hi and remembered that I was leaving today. Then a while later I saw the fellow; same thing. I have had many a non-recognizing experience in the common area of the hospital; it made me feel noticed, appreciated. I liked it. I'm not sure what the difference was this admission, but it's good.

Now, after a non-eventful ride, I'm home. I took the dog for a walk, helped a little with homework, walked downtown to get dinner, ate too much and have read one of the semi-junk journals that get sent to us. About once/year I get hooked by an interesting title or two and always waste more time than it's worth. Anyway, a meta-analysis of 300,000+ primary and secondary MI prevention shows that about 50% of primary prevention patients and 67% of secondary prevention patients being adherent to their meds (having the med on hand 75% of the time is their definition). Yikes! Beta blockers are the secondary prevention med people are most likely to skip and diuretics and beta blockers are the primary prevention med people are most likely to skip. Food for thought.

I'm tired now and going to go to bed. I am happy to have felt appreciated and noticed today by the house staff (that's the technical term for residents and fellows). I hope you are feeling appreciated and noticed. I am even happier to be home. I hope you are right where you want to be tonight.

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