Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Testing

Today I spent several hours at the clinic again, I think about 4 ½. My sister in law, K, took a day off work and came along with me. In case you are feeling that this was an overly generous gesture on her part, let me point out that in general she is a workaholic and she has something like three years of vacation saved up now. Nevertheless, it was generous to spend an unnecessary afternoon in the clinic, and I did appreciate it a lot.

One thing I noticed as I was getting my IV put in today, about medicine in general, at least in the US, is that it’s actually kind of a lot like Las Vegas. Technicians, nurses, doctors—all are profligate in their waste. Nothing is reused, of course. Nothing is even conserved. I think the feeling is that, if you’re at the SCCA, you have other shit going on in your life, and so you don’t want to have to worry about using three IV needles, for example. Or two disposable, break-and-go chemical heat packs. Or a wad of gauze, or a blood-catching pad (that looked a lot like Hoover’s Pee Pads, I have to say), or multiple bandaids, or cotton balls, or a strip of rubber for a tourniquet (all of which went into the trash when I was done). By the time my IV insertion and blood draw were over, the garbage can in my cubicle was half full of waste produced for me, and it had been a normal, tidy procedure (only one stick today!).

What reminds me about Vegas in this is the rampant extravagant disregard of resources. I have enjoyed my two trips to Vegas, but I’ve learned that I can only take about 2 ½ days. I can suspend my Northwest eco astoundedness for only about so long, then I start to worry about the lights and noise and air conditioning 24 hours a day, and where the power is coming from. I start to be appalled by the thousands of gallons of water evaporating into the desert air from the huge pools and fountains, the spray, the water and light shows. Before that, I can revel in the heat, the dryness, the flash and color. After 2 ½ days I need to return to the muted tones and gentle—natural—mist of my hometown.

I have no blame for anyone and their use of resources at the SCCA, but I do notice how much medical trash one person generates. Mostly, I am merely thankful that I’m living now, and going to the clinic now, at a time when we do seem to have unlimited supplies of tubing and hot dog-smelling stretch bandaging.

Anyway, my tests today included a blood draw (five different vials) to prep me for my Friday morning port placement, and an EKG, also for that. The EKG made me feel a bit like I was going to be jump started—the technician put ten sticky pads on me, and then hooked them all up with a spaghetti of cords and alligator clips, then turned on the machine. I felt nothing.

I then had a MUGA, which looks at how the heart is beating its beats, I think, rather than just that it is. This was merely a baseline, for before I start chemo, etc. One of my drugs, Herceptin, is supposed to be “cardiotoxic”. The woman doing the MUGA had to redo a scan to get a slightly different angle, since my heart itself appeared to be at a slightly unusual angle. “But that’s probably because you’re lean,” she said, and I thought “thank you!” The contrast in the MUGA is my own blood mixed with something radioactive, and then put back in my IV. They did extra checks to make sure I wasn’t getting anyone else’s blood.

The last test I had today was the brain MRI. Once or twice during the 40 minute procedure I thought “I could be scared about the outcome of this . . .” but honestly, I never was. I don’t know if that means my body knows my brain is fine, or if it means my body knows that whatever shows, the outcome will be fine. I mostly zone out, and sometimes nap when I’m having these tests (almost invariably they’re in a long, close tube or something similar), but that’s impossible in an MRI. I don’t know why the magnetic pulses are so noisy, but they sure are. And it’s not often a repetitive noise, so you can’t just get used to it. Occasionally, the noises are repetitive enough that I can start to hear the harmonics vibrating in my sinus bones, but usually not. But I can’t sleep, and I can’t even really think. I did notice today that my legs, resting on a wedge of foam, kept tensing up during the test. I kept having to consciously unwind the muscles. Also, there was one particular scan in the MRI, about a minute in length, that was so forceful my guts and ribs vibrated. That felt weird.

As usual, no results of anything today. I don’t have an appointment to hear results, so I’m assuming everything is on the current schedule—Friday port, Tuesday infusion—unless I hear otherwise.

1 comment:

allyson said...

Thank you for the update. I love this description: "hot dog-smelling stretch bandaging." I just the other day was in a bathroom that smelled like band aids! :)AQ