Saturday, August 29, 2009

Highway...

I forgot what a 'joy' it is to travel Interstate 71 between Cleveland and Columbus. Actually it really isn't bad, at least compared to when I did the trip regularly on my way to and from college in Cincinnati. Back then there were very few places to stop, if you wanted a coup of coffee or something to eat; now the choices are endless.

Friday was trip number two - had to be there by 11:00 for a stress test, at the offices of the cardiologists Dr. O likes, who of course are not located anywhere near OSU, but east of the city, near the airport. Somehow I managed to shut off my alarm clock, so we all woke just after 7AM. Jim took a shower while I helped the girls get dressed and got Rebecca breakfast, as her bus is scheduled to pick her up at 7:38. I figured that I didn't need a shower until after the stress test. We got everyone out the door, and I got my stuff together and took of for the interstate.

After I had been in the car 45 minutes or so, as I listened to an interview on the radio, they mentioned blood pressure. OH NO! In my haste to leave, I forgot to pack my daily medications, and forgot to take today's pills. Super... I was not really concerned about my crazy pill (Celexa), my focus pill (Vyvanse) or my vitamins. But I also didn't take my blood pressure medication. I talked to Ellen about it and then called Jim. He found a CVS within a couple of miles of my appointment, and kindly agreed to contact our PCP to have them call down a prescription. I also forgot that I was going to take some xanax with me for the MRI that I had scheduled as my Friday Night Fun activity. Jim called back a bit later to let me know that the phones were down at our doctor's office, so he emailed the doc and his nurse. They responded right away and were happy to call the scripts in. When I arrived at the designated CVS, they had just gotten the call so I had to wait a few minutes, but not very long. What a relief.

I made my way to the medical building, where first I went to the wrong office (very small signage to let you know where the heart center is!) but then arrived at the right desk. I was immediately told that there was a bit of a problem... I was not supposed to have a stress test after all; all I needed to have was an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). I will only need a stress test if the cardiologist, whom I will see on Tuesday, feels it is necessary. Ok, that is good... the stress test was the chemical kind and was scheduled to take 3 hours. On the other hand, the echo could have been scheduled along with the doctor visit. And so, since my MRI wasn't until 9:15 (8:45 check in), I could have worked on Friday, saving a precious 8 hours of PTO. *Sigh* The u/s tech was really super nice and I was out of there very quickly. I decided to do what everyone should do after leaving a heart center, and had lunch at KFC. It's a place I go very rarely, but once in a while I just want it, and had seen one up the street from the heart center. So, I grabbed a magazine and went in. Upon entering, I discovered the tables filled with students from the nearby high school. Oh joy... not what I wanted to see. They weren't unruly, just kind of loud, and I briefly wondered if I would be targeted in any way, as a fat person. But nobody seemed to notice me, and anyhow, as I waited in line, they all started to file out, so lunch period must have been over. By the time I took a seat, the dining room was largely empty, allowing me to enjoy reading a bizarre interview with Ryan O'Neal about Farrah Fawcett in Vanity Fair.

Now that I had my quarter or half year's worth of KFC in my system, I headed to Ellen's house, where I chatted with her and her mom for a while but started to feel really sleepy. I took a shower and relaxed in the guest room, deciding to take a brief nap. As I laid there, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me, a sense of grief over what is happening right now. These periods are not frequent, and they don't last long, but are pretty powerful when they do. And it felt strange to be far from my nuclear family, even though I was lucky enough to be staying with a family who is about as close to blood family as I have, a fact for which I am so grateful. I ended up sending Jim a brief sappy text and falling asleep for what ended up being about 2 hours.

We went out to eat and made it back to their house just before a huge thunderstorm arrived. Lucky us, it was still raining hard at 8 PM as we got ourselves together to go down to OSU, since the MRI was scheduled at the main hospital there. Ellen's husband Jay drove us, and we actually had some silly fun driving there and then locating where the heck we were supposed to be. It was very quiet at the hospital, being evening, but clearly open. The signage was good so we didn't have trouble finding where we needed to be. However, I felt very keenly what patients must feel like trying to negotiate through the buildings at Cleveland Clinic. It's strange to be walking around someplace you've never been, while the reason you're there is in the back of your mind. Very odd.

When we got up to the registration desk, I learned that I was the last scheduled patient of the night. I was taken back immediately, filled out the obligatory forms, and got ready to head to the big magnets. The tech who started my IV and tested my blood was nice, as was everyone back there. They clearly know how important it is to treat patients with care, and it was very calming. Interestingly, they were all males in the MRI area. I wondered to myself if females work in that area, or if they do but not second shift. Not that it bothered me, just interested me as a fact. The test itself went fine; it felt odd to have my head somewhat squished into place though not uncomfortable at all. I kept my eyes closed, so I didn't feel panicked. Also, I was able to keep my arms at my sides with my hands resting on my abdomen, and that made me feel less "stuck". I don't know how much the xanax helps me, since I don't feel obviously 'drugged' when I take it, but I definitely don't feel anxious so that must be what it is doing for me. They stopped things to put contrast into the IV line they had started, and that was when I caused trouble, or rather, my veins did. The tech went to flush the line and I felt a stinging sensation, from the saline. It wasn't horrible, but I knew I shouldn't be feeling it, so he stopped and removed the line. That led to him looking for another vein, which is always a difficult task in me. He ended up trying one in the back of my other hand, which blew immediately, at which point another tech came in and was able to put in a line very near the original site. We finished without incident, and I asked the tech if he had in fact seen my brain when doing the test. He laughed and reassured me that he had, so for those of you who say that I have lost my mind, HA! It may have been lost, but has now been found!

I rejoined Ellen and Jay who were watching TV in the waiting area. She had given me a bottle of water, and the tech gave me one too, to make sure I flushed out the contrast as soon as possible. I dutifully drank as we went home and while we watched a movie. All that hydrating caused me to get up a couple of times during the night, but when my kidney works, I am always thankful!

On Saturday I slept in, packed up, had breakfast with Ellen and Jay, and hit the road to head home. I made a couple of shopping stops along the way, including Grandpa's Cheese Barn. I hadn't been there in years, and we arrived after they closed on Monday, but I had promised the girls I would pick up some fudge, which I did. I admired all of the kitsch while there, and did get a little bit of cheese, along with a couple other snacks. Once I got home I took Carly to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, and then both girls to the library. My ulterior motive there was to get myself some more audio books, as I had no books left to listen to on Friday... leaving me stuck with the radio since I don't have any CDs in my car currently. Yikes! I am well stocked now, for both work days and travel.

Sunday was a slow, at-home day; worked on cleaning up lots of paperwork. My focus is on getting our first floor common areas decent so that if folks stop by, I won't die of embarrassment. Forget the cancer! After supper Carly asked me to come outside to help her try to ride the bike Rebecca is outgrowing; it's a kid's bike with training wheels. I agreed; it was a lovely evening, just cool enough. I chatted with a neighbor whose kids were also outside, and enjoyed the evening. Now I'm just gearing up mentally for a week that will be split among work, travel, and medical appointments. Jim's mom has offered to go with me to Columbus on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I am scheduled for CT scans, which will be my baseline scans for the IL2. On Friday is the procedure to place the port in my chest. Since she'll be driving, we should be able to go home Friday rather than stay over Friday night, though we will do that if needed.

As this all gets closer, I worry more about what I need to get done at work, at home, prepping the family for my absence. Part of me thinks about it a lot while part of me procrastinates doing anything about it. Funny how the mind works.

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