Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Transplant Class

Oh, my, what a special experience this was. There were about 10 transplantees with caregivers. Sis went with me and I'm so glad she did; it would have been completely unbearable alone. First, a transplant liaison/nurse talked about insurance (in America, every discussion of health CARE begins with a discussion of health INSURANCE). He reassured us that all the nurses on the unit are trained in high-dose chemo and transplants. We will all have private rooms. No cell phones allowed in the transplant unit. Bottled water only. Visitors cannot eat or drink in the room. A lot of logistical details, but a reassuring, professional presentation.

Then a pharmacist talked to us. I have NO IDEA what she said because the whole time she was SMACKITTY! SMACK! SMACK!ing a wad of gum. What kind of professional can't remove a wad of chewing gum for a ten minute presentation, especially when she is addressing a group of people with a life-threatening condition? She sounded like a fucking cow. SMACK! SNAP! SMACK! I hope sis took notes.

Now the fun part. Two nurses brought in little plastic tubs with IV ports taped into them. Here is the source of my anxiety (okay, barely-controlled hysteria): the PORT. First, we were supposed to practice changing the cap and flushing it. EXCEPT THE CAP ON MINE WAS STUCK. I repeat, THE CAP WAS STUCK! And no one could get it off, not the nurse, not the guy sitting next to me. So in addition to my garden variety hysteria, I have added the fear that I will get a defective CAP ON MY PORT. Thanks heaps. Then I practiced "flushing" it and somehow I did that wrong, and probably sent a row of bubbles to my heart to end my misery.

Then we were supposed to practice changing the "dressing" on the plastic tub, which represented our chests. And I did every single thing wrong, I kept contaminating everything. "Oops, you're not sterile. You touched the outside of the glove. If you do that at home, throw everything away and start over. " I finally got the dressing on, but it was so sticky and my gloves kept getting caught on it. "Yeah, just give it a hard yank," the nurse said... except in real life, that's my CHEST at the other end of the hard yank, thank you very much.

But wait, it gets even better: at one point the nurse was across the room talking to someone, but was loud enough for me to hear her say very clearly, "Yeah, this is going to HURT and be very SORE the first few days. They're just NOT very CAREFUL when they put them in."

Yes, in plain English, that's what she said and I have a witness. "They're just not very careful when they put them in."

I pretty much went deaf after that, the roar of my own anxiety drowned out everything else. Sis was such a trooper and I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't been there, probably started screaming? or maybe just walked out.

Even though some of them seem to have forgotten it, our cancer is life-threatening, and so is EVERY SINGLE STEP of the transplant process. It may warrant a little discussion with my liaison. (On the other hand, gosh, maybe I don't want to piss them off right before I PUT MY LIFE IN THEIR HANDS.)

But I am NOT AT ALL reassured that I can come home alone and take care of this port for the 3-5 days between harvest and transplant.

I urge everyone, ESPECIALLY SINGLE PEOPLE: do not get cancer.

P.S. I do know that my fears are not rational and that I have blown out of proportion the problems I had in the class. Still...


Michelle said...

Oh my. I have chills and I wasn't even there....praying lots for you, and that you know, the doctors are CAREFUL. Seriously--wtf??? ((HUGS))

La Cootina said...

Yeah, those nurses were outta line. I did decide to rat on them. They are both very young, and need to be reminded that they are in a very serious biz. My sis called them "cavalier," a good description. Thanks, I'll take the hugs!