Thursday, May 17, 2012

A draw... a very painful draw.

Yesterday, Wednesday, started strong and ended horribly.

I arrived at the hospital for my surgery. The nurse at the front desk remembered me from last time and greeted me accordingly. it was a good way to start the day off and my attitude was upbeat from that point forward. it was a lot of the same prep and situation as last time, with the open biopsy. the drafty gown, the hundred questions, the talking to everyone... but this time I knew what to expect, and treated every conversation like a social meeting. Spirits were high, and attitudes were cheerful.

The first hiccup of the day came when my phone range 35 minutes before they were supposed to wheel we out to surgery. It was the cancer clinic; they couldn't send their specialist over to to the bone marrow sample at the hospital, I would have to get wheeled over there to do it. I was furious on two levels, the first was that I would be awake for that mess, and the second was that they were waiting until the last minute to tell me. I let myself dwell on it for a few minutes, then forced myself to deal with what I could change, and what I couldn't. The marrow tap wasn't happening here, time to move on.

My surgeon came in shortly after that, she heard from her nurse, who heard from the OR nurse, who heard from me, about the marrow tap situation. Amazing about that line of communication, you'd think that news would reach her from more official channels... but oh well. The moment she found out however, she grabbed my chart and said "How many pain pills do you want me to get for you?"

"You mean for after the surgery?"

"Officially yes. Unofficially, also for you after that marrow sample is taken."

"Oh" I said, following her logic. I was actually going to ask about that, but she was one step ahead of me, not that I am complaining in the least. We talked and agreed on a reasonable dosage and pill count.

So, the surgery went fine, they knocked me out and I woke up with a stiff neck and a mild headache, nothing I wasn't expecting. They even sent a nurse with a wheel chair to rolled me the 100 yards to the cancer clinic. God bless them.

Unfortunately, my good fortunes did not follow me.

Going in from the back of my hip, the nurse told me I would feel a bee sting. Well it was more like a hornet's sting... no... it felt more like someone has just stabbed me with a sewing needle. And that was the numbing shot.

The sample itself didn't just hurt... it was the most pain I have ever felt in my life. The sound of the needle pushing though the outer wall of my pelvis was audible in my skull, and painful beyond words. Evidently the only way to pull the sample off was to twist it. The nurse actually said "this is going to be like twisting a tree branch to break it off" just as she started twisting the handle on her sample bit....

It was all I could do not to scream. I balled my fists up as the image of her words combined with the wrenching pain in my hip. Mental and physical agony offering no escape.

The sample dislodged.... she carried it over to the try table and then said "Oh dear, this one is too short. We're going to need another."

Somewhere in there, while she was drilling into the bone a second time, she had the nerve, or the stupidity to ask "are you okay, are you in too much pain?"

On my side, my back to her, my fist balled, I bit down and snarled before finally saying "I was asleep less than two hours ago, in an operating table. You want to know how much pain I'm in? I'm in more pain than I should be."

"I know, dear," she said patting me on the shoulder "They actually offer these as sedated procedures in the city and in Tulsa, just not here."

I'd like to say that I don't know what force kept me from hitting her, but the fact of the matter is that I do. Without a sample, the clinic won't proceed with the chemotherapy. It's that simple. Because of a doctor's bad choice of words (He said, "it doesn't hurt that much), and a too-long wait to get answers (the previously mentioned phone call), I was left with a choice; I could endure the rest of the pain, pain that surpassed any other experience I had ever felt thus far in my life, or I could delay treatment, possibly by as much as two or more weeks.

I chose to accept the pain, but I am still having nightmares over it today.

When it was done I was in agony, it hurt to walk, it hurt to move, it literally hurt to think. My wife raced to Walmart to get the prescriptions filled so that I could get some relief. (No the nurse in charge of the procedure didn't offer so much as an aspirin for the pain, let alone a prescription, or any means of getting one).

I didn't blog last night because I was still in too much pain, even with the pain killers in my system, to sit down and write. I went to sleep mad; mad that I was in pain that I flat didn't need to be. Mad that my wife had to see me like that, and mad that the only reason I wasn't in more pain was because I, not the clinic that inflicted it on me, had the forethought to engage an MD and get a painkiller ahead of time.

The day started out wonderfully, with one of the best medical teams I have ever been exposed to in my life. But it ended horribly, with pain beyond reason, for no other reason that bureaucracy and stupidity.

I wanted to call this day a win because I came out of it... but even at my most ardent, I can't call it a win when I remember how much pain in was in.

I'm calling this one a draw, and just moving on before I say or do something I might regret.

But I do have parting thought, and this one goes out specifically to the pathology nurse.

"I'm not mad at you right now because I'm too tired, too busy and I have bigger fish to fry. But don't think I won't crush you like a bug if given the opportunity"


  1. good job on "keeping your cool" (only way i could think of saying it) but its amazing that you lived through that man its amazing :)

  2. I personally would have waited... I'd rather be sedated than be in pain, even though anesthesia isn't great either.

  3. I find screaming like a banshee results in pain meds being applied; mind you this is only at the dentist; YMMV. hugs! Pyro