Ode to Annie and Billie Jo…
It started out as an ordinary day…..regular trip to the oncologist – check the blood levels, and back home. Except this turned out to be anything but ordinary!
First was an ‘added-on’ appointment – the oncologist had detected sounds and told me I had pneumonia, and should go see a pulmonist – also to try (again) to find the cause of the cough I have had for literally years. So off we went, and the ‘swallow test’ was only moderately awful – you would think that somehow they could make the nasty barium taste better….ugh!
We had time left before the appointment for my blood tests, so I got to go to my favorite thrift store and get a few goodies, and we stopped and had lunch at Arby’s – these were both unplanned and made the day even more fun – found some bargains and had a yummy lunch!
We were still early – but decided to go ahead over to the oncologist – and getting there early turned out to be a good thing – got right in to get the blood tests, and then headed back to see the nurse in the infusion room and get my results. Usually, these interim test results are brought by one of the other nurses, not what I think of as THE nurse. But she didn’t come – so we waited. They were pretty busy, so I didn’t mind waiting – this was routine, after all. Then she came and sat down, and laid it on the line….’Trish, these are awful!’ Uh oh….. and they were. White Blood Count down to 4.4, Red Blood Count down to 2.71 (first time this was low), Hemoglobin down to 8.3 – and then the Platelets…..down to 8. Yes – single digit 8. My previous low on platelets had been 11 – and I knew the oncologist’s ‘bottom line’ was 10 – so….what to do. First I got a injection of Aranesp for the red blood cells – then they tried to arrange getting the platelets in time to do the infusion this afternoon – but it was too late.
I needed the platelets, so the only way to get them was to go to the ER and get them there – and then the adventure began……the oncologist’s office called over to the ER to let them know I was coming, and had JUST had my blood drawn – so they didn’t need to repeat it. They agreed (ha!)
It was around 2:30pm when we arrived at the ER and proceeded to wait. I had all my paperwork from the oncologist’s office with me – with all the information they would need, but no one was interested in looking at it. Well, maybe later. We filled the time with people-watching as they came and went in the doors. We were a bit surprised that if the employees (and there were plenty of them) were not actually talking to someone, it seemed it was ok to just hang out and talk about their own lives – joking around and chatting – and I’m thinking…..do they have nothing else to do when the walk-in traffic slows down? Hmmmm. After about an hour – and I think that is their version of ‘lightning speed’ – I was taken back to a room in the ER and the nice guy who walked me back also found me two warm blankets – wonderful! I was just freezing! Then in came the nurse – to whom I offered my pack of paperwork to read – total non- interest. And….just as I thought, even though the oncologist office had just done my bloodwork – they were ‘going to do our own – we just like it that way.’ Uh huh – translation – we want to bill it, not read someone else’s work. I told them I had a ‘power port’ – kind of a central place thru which chemo can be infused directly – and can also be used to draw blood for testing. The response? ‘Oh, well, we don’t want to mess with a port someone else put in, so we’ll just find a vein and draw it from your arm.’ And I knew this would not end well….
So – she tried – and actually got the necessary draws for re-doing the testing, and then blew the vein – giant bruise. So – tried the other arm – had to get a needle in to give me the platelets….since they would not use the port – and even using a smaller needle – instantly blew that vein…..another even larger bruise. So….she took the blood to send to the lab and said she’d find someone else to put in the needle for the infusion. And so we waited some more…..won’t even go into how incredibly uncomfortable the bed is in the ER – not to mention the chair my poor husband was stuck with…. I was still freezing, and they did bring me some more warm blankets – I am now wrapped up in four of them…..and I’m still cold….and we waited…. around 5:30pm or so – we finally got to see the doctor (who was ‘tied up with someone else’ til then) who came in and said that he was ordering the platelets and we’d get this infusion going. And I’m thinking…..you knew this hours ago and are just NOW dealing with it? Ok then…. but then things really went off the rails….
I had asked that the room door be open – I just like seeing what is going on – being endlessly curious about the goings on in an ER in real time. Watched the nurses try more than once to find out what was happening with the platelets – to no avail. At some point, one of them came in and said ‘we’re having trouble locating the pathologist who ordered the platelets’ – really? Does he not work here? Does the matching etc not get done here? Yes and yes…..but no more info…. Did I mention that we are now at dinner time – and still no one had the least interest in looking at the paperwork I had brought with me? But I did get the feeling that they were unhappy that I was just watching all that was going on…..and in a little while…..they came in and said they were moving me to a ‘quieter, more comfortable room’ – hmmmm….well, ok – am not going to turn down comfort, and neither was my husband!
Got all settled down in the new room – so comfortable!! Some time in the afternoon, a nurse had mentioned that the doctor ‘might have ordered some food for me’…..but no – he did not. So Lucian was off on the mission to obtain food for us… we had already discovered that ice was a precious commodity in the ER – we repeatedly asked for – and received one styrofoam cup with ice and water. Never learned where the ice machine was – or we would have helped ourselves…..but no…..and then we met Annie and Bobbi Jo! And everything changed! Annie set off on a mission to find out the whereabouts of the platelets…and enlisted Bobbi Jo in the quest – how blessed we were to have these two on our side! Meantime, Lucian made up a sign and posted it to Facebook (my phone memory was gone after 10 minutes of FB, his did better!). It got quite a bit of attention…..
Now we are way past dinner and still no platelets…..we were hoping the sign would produce results….it didn’t, but Annie and Bobbi Jo did! Never found out where the platelets were all afternoon ( I suspect they never got ordered) – but they did find out the platelets had to be ordered from the Red Cross – contrary to us being told they were here, but just waiting for them to come upstairs…..hmmmm. Now there was hope…..they had been ordered, just not from where we were told – and finally!!!! THE phone call saying they were on their way to our floor!! This time, they told us about 15 minutes….and guess what? it was 15 minutes – amazing how a little truth can boost the spirits! Annie and Bobbi Jo sprang into action – got the infusion pump, got a temp machine to take my vitals – it was something to watch them working together to get er done! Small glitch….my temp had been climbing…..and there was concern it might be too high to start the infusion – but God stepped in and calmed that fear – and we were good to go! And what time, you ask, did these platelets start going into me? We came to the ER at 2:30pm – and it was now 9:00pm – just a tad excessive, I think. From then on, Annie and Bobbi Jo showed up in the room every 15 minutes – take the vitals, speed up the infusion….then showed us how to find out how much time was left by reading the pump – praising God for these two women who were the fountain of good information where we had had hours of no or incorrect information!
One bonus from this extended stay in the ER was that we got to watch the entire evening lineup on Fox News – Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity etc – so nice to hear REAL news for a while!! At long last – it was just before 1:00am, and the infusion was done! Got dressed in record time, and the doctor gave us our exit paperwork – and we hit the road – got home just after 2:00am – and have never been so glad to get into bed and off to sleep!!! They have at the hospital – an award for nurses who go above and beyond what they ‘have’ to do…..and boy both Annie and Bobbi Jo qualify completely!!
Wondering….what will next week bring? I’ll let you know!!!