Thursday, August 30, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

I'm back online and almost raring to go. I chose green, because I feel green around the edges. I went to sleep telling the assorted and sundry operating room people medical jokes. Like the good news/bad news jokes of the surgeon hovering over his waking patient with good news/bad news.

The patient says, "Give me the bad news first!"

Doc says, "We had to amputate both your legs."

Patient says, "OMG, after that --- what could possibly be good?"

Doc says, "Your roommate wants to buy your slippers."

Needless to say, they shoved the sodium pentathol in as a bolus! The right carotid endarterectomy took almost three hours, because although the plaque was only at 55% --- it had begun to dissect (split away from a crater in the artery) and there was great danger of causing a massive stroke. Now, I really hate to brag, but will take poetic licence with this, because, "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, you would cry, too, if it happened to you!" Seems to me I've heard that song before??? My doctor is a genius and people stack up in his waiting room on Tuesdays as though they were waiting for the Pope to bless them. I can't imagine that people from all over the country will come to Toledo, Ohio to see a vascular doctor, when there are famous places in big cities, who do vascular surgery. Ah, but his one does robotic surgeries like repairing aortic aneurysms with little bitty, band-aid incisions and he is an adorable Argentine. What a far cry from John Denver's "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio, is Like Being No place at All".

So, I have bragged about the doctor and will rave about the nurses in Constant Care and the staff in his office, but for those of you who will ever go to a hospital ---- make certain that your own family doctor has privileges at the hospital where the surgery will be done. Number One -- (Oh, no!---this sounds like a pun in the making) They took my Foley Catheter out the morning after surgery and then hung around like eighty-five grandmothers waiting for me to tinkle. A round of Lasix is usually guaranteed to make anyone pee, but when I finally felt like I had to go ---I only dribbled, but knew that my bladder was full. The resident doctors have apparently not had enough experience with Foleys to know that people have a bad time going the first day after removal. There are cute little ultrasound machines that they rub over your tummy after you have tried your best and it tells them that you have a ton of urine in your bladder. When I was in nursing school, this condition was called retention with overflow and it eventually resolved itself after a couple of straight caths. My resident doc, however, hung around like I was about to go into terminal nephritis. He called in a real Urologist, who politely left his card and suggested that I see him in three weeks. I'm sure Medicare will get a bill for this guy and I am not very happy about it, since I started peeing on my own by the next morning. Resident boy was still rambling on about fun things like bladder cancer, etc --- I wanted to smack him! It might have been seeing my age on the admission chart, but I was really insulted when he sent in occupational therapy --- "Do you need help with your daily activities?" Yeah, were you considering a maid or what? Next came physical therapy ----What in the world were they going to do for me? I could probably use some help putting on my roller blades. Then, he sent in a nutritionist to see if I understand the proper nutrition for geezers. You mean that Hershey Nuggets are not a balanced diet? I thought I mentioned that I am still a card carrying nurse. These different areas of hospital expertise are probably a legitimate way of getting a few extra bucks out of Medicare. Look out "Baby Boomers" --- there isn't going to be anything left for you at this rate!

What started the whole adversarial thing was my saying that I wanted to go home on oxygen for a few days. Quote from the resident dipstick, "You're not going home on O2!" A funny thing happens to me when I have anesthesia, I breathe very shallowly for several days and my O2 saturation drops to levels that are incompatible with life. But, gee, I have asthma and COPD and I know how to compensate for these problems, except when I have had anesthetic. Last time I had a carotid done (three years ago---when I was a very young 68), I came home without O2 and sat up all night, trying very hard to get enough air to stay alive. We got some tanks of oxygen and I used them for 2 or 3 days and happily sent them back. My bossy resident decided that if I need oxygen after surgery --- I must be in great need of a pulmonologist. Enter another great one followed by half a dozen students in his wake. Since I had a pulse-oximeter on my finger and we watched it drop to 69 to 78% when I got out of bed or tried to walk in the halls, we didn't need anyone else to tell me that I was not exchanging or perfusing oxygen in my lungs, yet. Needless to say, I came home from the hospital after four days with a bunch of oxygen tanks and enough tubing to walk downtown. This gave me great respiratory support for four days and then I kicked that cannula to the curb. It's going back very soon, since I exhibited the ability to huff and puff my O2 sats up to 97% at my first visit on Tuesday.

Let this be a lesson to each of you---- don't let the hospital's errand boys get their hands on you ---insist on your regular PCP, who knows all the little weird things about you. For now, I am getting better every day. I can do without the O2, I am eating small amounts of food, I am up for small amounts of time, but if these dang headaches don't go away --- I'm going to call that idiot resident and have him call in a neurosurgeon for a consult!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Addendum to Yesterday's Post

So, by now y'all know that I am going under the knife on Monday morning. Every place I turn, people are blogging about someones death, epitaph or impending doom. I
am reading a book titled "Under the Knife" by Diane Fanning. The main character's name is Dean in the book and there just happens to be a Hurricane Dean wending it's circuitous route through the Gulf of Mexico. I admit it gave me pause to think of the ramifications of all these coincidences. My husband has assured me that he has prayed about it and that I am going to be just fine, but he keeps giving me these loving glances that say, "I am memorizing your face, just in case you don't make it out of the O.R." Which leads me to say sweet things like, " Would you like me to teach you how to sort laundry just in case I die?" "I'll type up a paper for you that tells you how to work the computer --- could you just let my blogger friends know if I don't make it back home?" "We should really hit that great little restaurant after church tomorrow--- just in case, you know!" I have only had a couple of days to accomplish an abundance of things that are important to nobody except me. He has been dusting and vacuuming without a peep. He also played thirty-six holes yesterday and 24 holes today. You just cannot go into the valley of the shadow of death without your ironing done, taking your Bernina into the store for it's annual check-up or without a French manicure and filing the mountain of papers on the desk is a must for perfectionist type folks. Anyway, I am milking this for all it's worth. Dear Lord, please don't let the joke be on me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Things are Moving too Fast!

Medicine is certainly a confusing patchwork of specialists, fancy tests and insanity these days. Since I have a bit of experience in the world of nursing, I know enough to gather up my own medical records and important tests into a file that will remind doctors what they did last. Things that happen to this old body are way more important to me than they are to any doctor or medical institution. It never ceases to amaze me that we are told by fancy physicians that something about us is important and they will be keeping an eye on the problem, only to have them forget why you have appeared in their office this year to check on some spurious condition. Couldn't they write on the front page of the chart--- "Don't forget that this patient's head is in danger of falling off in another year?" Do you get tired of that quizzical look that says, "What in the world could be wrong with you now?"

We live in Florida for six months at a time and then amble home to Ohio to have our doctors check on various and sundry old people complaints. Florida doesn't have enough doctors to keep up with the snowbirds who flock to their sunny shores, so I dutifully collect all our records and enough medicine to keep us going for another season each fall. As we are preparing to return to Ohio, I call ahead to make the appointments that are designed to keep us alive until next season. (Sort of like curb side restaurants) Since we arrived home in May, you would think that we would be done by June and call it a day with the medical experts. I have known that "My Honey" was going to have a total knee replacement (after the golf season and before the return to Flamingo Paradise), but I finally got to the right doctor this week to check on an old surgery and think about the reason for a sudden rise in my blood pressure. The PCP and the cardiologist didn't have a clue, so they said just keep taking the medicine and "Here's another pill or two to add to the upset" --- they'll see me next year. Not so with the vascular surgeon who reamed out my left carotid three years ago and is keeping the proverbial eye on the right one. He is such a busy and important man that I feel silly going to his office. Who would think that Toledo, Ohio has one of the rare vascular surgeons who does robotic surgeries? I have met people from all over this country in his waiting room, including one from Maine by way of Massachusetts General who came in need of this man. I have also waited in his office for up to five hours to see the great one. Why would anyone in their right mind wait that long? Because he is the one who looks at horses and sees Zebras. Where other doctors see someone who looks pretty healthy, but has some ridiculous symptom --- so they cut them loose until something important shows up, he gets a far away look in his eyes (like he is reading page 961 in the Internal Medicine Book) and orders an appropriate test.

Last week he ordered three dimensional CAT scans of my carotids and lower aortic branch arteries. But honestly doc,--- I feel pretty good! We saw him on Tuesday and he slapped the scans up on the light box and visibly paled. In his Argentine accent, he said, "This is not so good." On Wednesday, I was back at the cardiologist's getting clearance to have surgery sometime soon. Yesterday, I was back at the hospital having out-patient testing done pre-op. On Monday morning, he will be saving my life. That pesky right carotid has problems not seen by ordinary tests or felt by ordinary doctors, but dreamed of by this extraordinary doctor. There is a crater in the plaque that is causing the blood rushing up my neck to force a disection in a carotid that is not blocked enough to call attention to itself by the usual means. Am I scared? You betcha! Do I trust him? You betcha! But, I trust God even more and will abide by whichever prayer He decides to answer. If things go well on Monday, I will have to come home from Florida in four more months for a stent in my celiac artery (it goes from your aorta to your liver). I told you there were Zebras in my barn --- and this amazing doctor is the head zoo keeper.

I guess I am trying to tell you that you shouldn't be put off by a medical community that seems to be too involved with all the paperwork and too short on time to find what is the problem in your life. Keep dinging at them until someone listens to you. It's your life that they are messing with --- hold them accountable.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tagged by a Blog Buddy

Carine over at What's Cooking? tagged me with a cute set of questions ---I hope they aren't all for baby boomers, because my kids are boomers, but I have a few bangs left in me!

1. What is your middle name?--- I don't have one! My parents named me for a friend and didn't know her middle name was Gertrude. Praise God!
2. What color pants are you wearing?---White clam diggers
3. What are you listening to now?---Some western movie is playing the den, but I'm not really listening to it.

4. What was the last thing you had to drink?---My addiction--- I always have a Coca Cola going with lots of ice.

5. Do you wish on Stars?---No, I believe that God controls my life.

6. If you were a crayon what color would you be?---Pink or peach.

7. How is the weather today?---In the middle 90's and humid, but I'm in
the A/C

8. Last person you spoke to on the phone?---my daughter, Lesley

9. Do you like the person that sent this to you?---yes, from everything I've
read about her!

10. Favorite drink---that dratted Classic Coke or Pepsi

11. Favorite sport---I love Tiger Woods playing golf! (I live on a
golf course)

12. Hair Color---childhood blond turned yucky with highlites courtesy
of Keith's Salon and some gray, courtesy of God

13. Siblings?--- I had 2 sisters and 2 brothers, but am down to 1 of each

14. Favorite month---I love May , it's a beautiful month in Ohio

15. Favorite Food?---my homemade Chocolate Pie

16. What was the last movie you saw in theaters?---"Knocked Up" (I'm
ashamed to say, but it was funny!)

17. Favorite day of the year?---any day I still wake up in the morning

18. What do you do to vent anger?---pick a fight with my husband

19. What was your favorite toy as a child?---rollerskates

20. Summer or Winter?---Summer--that's why we spend six months in

21. Hugs or kisses?--- Don't they both go together?

22. Car or motorcycle?---Car, but I do have a Honda 50

23. Chocolate or vanilla?---Chocolate

24. Do you want your friends to do this survey? I'm afraid they are already taken

25. Who is most likely to do this survey? --- Me, I need to get a life!

26. Who is least likely to respond?--- I don't know

27. When was the last time you cried?---about four years ago in Florida
and my grandkids still worry that I am unstable

28. What is under your bed?---moss green carpet

29. Who is the friend that you have had the longest?---my BFF, Elaine, from the 4th grade, about 60 years ago, but really my husband of
almost 54 years.

30.What did you do last night?--- Read a book.

31. What are you afraid of?---The money running out before life does.

32. Plain, buttered, or salted popcorn?---salted

33. Favorite car---Our Ford F150 truck---the ride is great, it has
heated seats and keyless entry

34. Favorite Flower?--- begonias in my decorative pots outside and
all my tropical plants around the house in Florida..

35 . How many keys on your keyring--- Four, but I never use them.

36. How many years at your job?--- Twenty years in a hospital after going
to nursing school at forty---retired now, but miss nursing

37. What did you do on your last birthday?---Out for dinner --- never do much---too close to Christmas

38. How many states have you lived in?---three

39. Did you have fun doing this?---It beats watching old westerns on TV.

40. To whom are you going to send this ? My Lacey Beth