My less-than-optimal day.

From our friends at Sipsey Street Irregulars

“Oy vey.” by Phillip Sherwood-Berndt.

Oy vey.  Where to start about yesterday?  Perhaps at the beginning, I guess.

Got to the out-patient testing facility (which is an annex to Trinity Medical Center) before 0800.  Filled out the paperwork, drank the disgusting contrast and waited.  And waited.  Finally about 0945 they took me back for the CT scan, which required an IV to inject more dye into my bloodstream.  So they stuck me.  And stuck me.  And stuck me.  Five times, which given previous experiences was no big deal but we had obviously exceeded the competence of the nurses running the MRI machine.  So they sent for the hospital’s chief IV nurse with her portable imager to find a vein.  Six sticks later, she got a line.  Eleven sticks, now that’s a personal best for me.  So, onward and upward for the test. . .  Or, not.

I’m in the enclosed MRI tube, head sticking out, radioactive dye half in, minding my own business and hoping I can still make the oncologist doctor’s appointment at 1030 when, without preamble, the machine began sounding like a bowling ball in a washing machine accompanied by peculiar grinding sounds and a banshee chorus of a shriek that sounded nothing so much as my ex-wife on a tear — all magified by the fact that I’m inside the tube and the noise is being generated just a few inches from my head.  Now, this is not my first rodeo with such machines so I knew that something less than-than-optimal was going on.  The operator was in the little glass-fronted room watching me and of course we’re wired for sound so I said, “Uh, I think we have a problem here.”  She shut down the machine, came in and asked me if she’d really heard the thumping-grinding-ex-wife-shrieking sound.  “Yeah,” I said, “I think your machine’s broke.”  Now in 18 years of operating such machines, she gave me to understand, she had never had this happen.  So, of course, she turned it back on for more thumping-grinding-shrieking, with me still in the tube.  Resisting the urge to crawl out, I suggested that she turn it off now that she’d satisfied her curiosity.  She did.  Fortunately it still worked to the extent that I could be extracted without crawling.

OK.  Re-evaluate in the light of changed circumstances.  Dye’s half in, IVs still in place.  “Have you got another machine?” I asked.  They were ahead of me and had already called over to the main hospital, so they sat me down in their waiting room, knobby knees sticking out from under the hospital gown, to await the chariot to come fetch me.  Where I wait.  And wait.  Chariot arrives.  Get to where the other machine is in the main hospital.  Waiting room packed.  I’m on the on-ramp of a very crowded freeway, it seems.  So I wait.  And wait.  Me in my gown and the room is colder than my ex-wife’s heart. (It’s never hotter than her temper, either.  Divorce lends a certain sense of perspective.  If somebody shoots at me and misses, it’s still not as bad as my first marriage.  This allows me to take much adversity with serene equanimity.)

Someone comes in to make a pot of coffee, which is right in front of me.  And the coffee begins to trickle like a babbling brook.  Now I’ve been NPO since before midnight, but the liquid in the nasty contrast they made me drink what seemed like a half-gallon of has now had time to be processed through the kidneys.  The chill, the trickle, and now I’ve got to urinate like a race horse.  Can’t get the wheelchair lock on the left off because of the delicate IV, which I dare not compromise.  Nothing for it, but I’ll have to walk, out the room, down the hall.  My dignity will not survive the trip, but the bladder insists.  I get up, careful to bring along the bag with my clothes, wallet, and most importantly, my pocket pistol, with me.  With not enough hands, despite my best efforts, the gown gapes in back.  A child in the waiting room snickers.  Oh, what the heck, she didn’t see anything too anatomical, I tell myself.  I have to do this twice more before they come for me.  Whatever.

The new machine is an open MRI and the rest of the test goes without a hitch.  I have now long missed my doctor’s appointment, and he is now in surgery, so I kill some time by going to the cafeteria where there is a Subway.  I am hungry enough to eat that sick snake from last week.  Eat my small egg and cheese on flat-bread with olives.  They charge for water so I do without.  But, I’ve eaten, my clothes are back on and my KelTec P3AT is in my pocket.  Things are looking up.  I make it over to the doctor’s office to, you guessed it, wait.  They come out and ask me where my IV is at.  They took it out, I answer.  They berate me. It seems this did not coincide with their wishes since they had called over to the test room to tell them to leave it so they could easily draw the routine blood sample they need.  Actually, that was pretty smart on their part.  Unfortunately, the message was not acted upon, nor did it get to me.  They calm down.  Yep, you guessed it, now they have to stick me again.  After my twelfth unsuccessful stab of the day, I call a halt.  They will have to do without the blood-work this day.

Finally get in to see the doc.  The news is better than I thought.  No sign of tumor regeneration, but I’m retaining fluid.  The doc believes that this — not the failure of the glue — is the explanation for the liquid still oozing out my back and further, is due to the Gleevec anti-cancer medicine I’m taking (apparently a common side effect).  So, the test is so clean that he believes we can discontinue the Gleevec for a month and see if the wound on my back heals up.  I’m willing to try.  There is always recourse to the referral to another surgeon at UAB.

So, I leave the doctor’s office a little after 1400.  I have to pick up Rosey at work by 1600.  In the meantime I have to go home, hitting the bank and the post office in Pinson on the way before getting to her work in Moody.  Strangers in badly-navigated cars try to kill me on the way.  It is tight, but I make it.  Someone walks by and asks innocently, “How was your day?”  I merely laugh.  It is a chuckle, not an insane cackle, so I know I’m still in control.  There is nothing else to do but laugh.  In fact, laughing at this point is downright therapeutic.  I’m still laughing when I get home.

And now, dear readers, you know about my less-than-optimal day.  I hope it explains why I haven’t posted a thing for the last 26 hours.

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