zen.org Communal Weblog

April 11, 2011

Hip flask, how I miss you

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:05 GMT

Today was my followup bone marrow sample; the result of this sample decides the next step in my course of treatment.

In contrast to the two previous times, this version was only half the effort: the doctor did the first step, getting the liquid bone marrow (a “bone marrow aspirate“) and put it on the microscope slides.  He saw (and showed me—I have a picture, but as with the biopsy photo, I won’t post it for the queasy) a nice grouping of the cells on the slide, an indicator he got really usable samples.  The previous ones looked kind of like a flat liquid, meaning there weren’t any “particles” (doc’s term).  This made them have to do the biopsy—getting the physical marrow sample.  (My post before was technically incorrect because they’re actually two different things: in each of the previous two, they did a aspirate first then the biopsy second.)

Don’t know if we’ll hear the results of the sample today or tomorrow—we’re assuming tomorrow (Tuesday).  Today’s bone marrow exercise was half the time with almost no pain at all.  Amazing!

You know, if the US gives you the equivalent to a couple of beers with your local anaesthetic, I’ve been seriously considering convincing Ireland to let you clutch a hip flask of good whiskey as your way to make it through the experience.  (Instead of your pillow—a childhood habit reappearing as an alternative to clutching a piece of wood between your teeth.)   That way, each draw they make of my hip bone’s liquid marrow is matched with a hefty shot of Belvenie Doublewood 12-year whiskey.  I’m sure there are more such procedures in my future, but two in a week is enough for a bit, I hope!  And by then I’ll have forgotten about my booze solution.

Rotations, just like on TV

Today a bunch of student doctors and nurses changed as they finished their previous collective rotation and moved on to the next.  A really nice Dr M from my team of doctors is moving on to radiology, I think; haven’t seen/met his replacement, if there is one.  More fun is the switch in the student nurses (that’s not what I meant, you prude).  There are a few 4th-year students joining some of the student nurses who are just 1st-year.  The 4th-year nurses are a little more polished, a little more clear in what they’re doing.  And, most interestingly to me, they want to help the 1st-year compatriots, doing the equivalent of teaching their younger counterparts.  Very impressive.

Wake Up, Soldier, It’s Already 05:50 Hours

The schedule I’m expected to maintain in the hospital is a little extreme.  Most people crash out at a reasonable 10 or 11pm, and don’t have to rise until 7am or 8am in the morning; maybe 5am or 6am if you have to be in for an early start.  At home, we’d set our alarm for 7am during the week to get the boys to school.

I’ve learned something while staying here: the nurses and caterer—all very nice people, mind you—have a masochistic idea of what a “wake-up time” should be.  I’m usually asleep 9:30-10:00pm.  Get a few hours of rest, then—WAKE UP!—around 2am the nurses have to check blood pressure, pulse, oxygen, and temperature.  Ok, fine, back to sleep by 2:30am—WAKE UP!—and back awake at 5:50am so they can take like six separate blood samples.  (Pretty quick with the Hickman central line.)  Again, checking blood pressure, etc., and just to press the point, they also have to check our weight.  By then it’s just about 6am.  Fine, all done—WAKE UP!—no, just before 7am is the breakfast tray, with breakfast following about 15 minutes later.  Drink your tea or juice, eat your porridge or cereal or toast or yogurt.  Then you can crash again, if you’re able to pull it off.

Not very likely. 😉

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