Friday, January 18, 2013

Hospitable Hospital

The first order of business after completing my four hour informational meeting with a kidney transplant nurse, dietitian, social worker, financial planner, and appointment coordinator was to show up at the hospital prepped and ready for another four hours of medical procedures.  

I decided to spare Ben from having to request another day off work, and demanded that my sister accompany me to this next appointment as part of her maid-of-honor duties.  I played the "...but you're the maid of honor" card. I'm not gonna lie--sometimes it’s fun to be a Bridezilla.  

Another early morning, and this time, there was McDonalds...for Jocelyn.  I had to fast for 8 hours. And this time, I documented the whole experience.  First up: there will be blood! 


 I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at getting my blood drawn. After ten years of doing this, I know which veins are going to be automatic.  And by automatic, I mean ripe for blood drawing.  From years of experience I've learned that an "automatic vein" is one that practically jumps out of your arm when you show it to the nurse, prompting the nurse to say "Wow! You have good veins!."    I know how many times to squeeze my fist or the little red ball and then when to release once the needle is inserted.  I’m not squeamish and I don’t get dizzy.  This is what 10 years with a chronic condition can do for a person: give them a whole new skillset related to withdrawing blood.  


The picture above shows the 14 tubes that I had to fill with my blood--by far the most tubes of blood that I've had to fill up.  I usually don't worry about whether I'll have any trouble giving blood, given that most instances involve two or three tubes.  This one time, at the National Institute of Health, I had to fill up six tubes! And I thought I was actually going to pass out then. Now my mindset is more like, "Six tubes?  Whatever man.  Whatever.  Come back when you're serious about taking my blood."

Next up: only the second ultrasound I've ever had in my life. And I've never been pregnant. I have to admit, ultrasounds are not my favorite medical procedure.  Doesn't everyone want to see their insides, you ask?  Well, first of all, I don't know how anyone can determine anything on those machines. Everything looks the same. And second, in this day and age I guess we still can't find a way to warm up the ultrasound gel BEFORE rubbing it all over someone's stomach.  If I yelp because of the temperature of the gel, you might have a problem.

The picture above is one of my favorites of the day.  In the first post, I rambled on about how glorious McDonald's breakfast is.  In this post, you'll hear about one of the most gratifying meals I've ever eaten:  hospital breakfast. Yes, after ten hours of fasting, 14 tubes of blood, and an ultrasound that went on a little too long (I guess two crippled kidneys don't show up on screen very well), my sister and I sat down to a delicious, freshly prepared hospital breakfast.  It cost me $4.  Since then, I've suggested to many people, "Hey, lets hit up Fairfax Hospital for some flapjacks."  Or "Hey, you know who has great coffee and cheap biscuits?  The hospital."  If it were closer, I'd never eat anywhere else.  

For the last three procedures I don't have any pictures because I had to do them topless. And this isn't that kind of blog.  I will end with this:   
  • Just like the ultrasound gel, those little stickers they put on your boobies for the echo cardiogram are freezing cold.  Why?
  • After ten years of doing it infrequently, getting my blood pressure checked still gives chills (149 over 101 during this visit; not good).
  • More than anything, my favorite part of these experiences is getting to spend time with my family, especially one of my sisters. My faith that God will work everything out in the end keeps me going. But I'll also be forever in debt for the rest of my life to my family, who have cried with me, and mostly laughed with me, prayed for me, driven me to the hospital, eaten 40 cent eggs with me, and took pictures of me for my "sick people problems" blog.  I can't thank you guys enough.