Sunday, June 1, 2008

Description of the Ablation

Twenty-four hours before the ablation I started taking prednisone. Prednisone is a steroid and I have to take it because I am allergic to intravenous iodine. Iodine is used as a contrast dye for CT scans and it is administered intravenously. The ablation is CT guided, and they do the CT with contrast. Therefore I have to take prednisone. The side effects (for me) are that it makes me hot, hungry, and have difficulty sleeping (and,as we discovered last time, my white blood cell count balloons!). I have to take the prednisone 24 hours, 12 hours, and 2 hours before the procedure. So, in other words, I go to the hospital for the ablation already feeling under the weather.

I packed water and food--snacks and 3 small meals--in case I had to stay overnight in the hospital. When I was at the hospital recovering from lung surgery in Sept. 2007, I learned that their food sucks and they do not know how to provide for the nutritional needs of vegetarians. I did not want to go hungry and without protein or vegetables this time. I also brought a ton of books. :)

My mom took Captain Adorable for a walk and Captain Obvious and I left for the hospital while they were gone. This way we could avoid the painful goodbye that would probably result in crying from Captain Adorable.

The elevators in the building where I had to go are very, very slow. We were waiting for a while (about 5 minutes or so) before a couple (woman in a wheelchair) showed up. Others people also ended up waiting there in the lobby until finally an elevator arrived. There were a lot of people and just the one elevator; woman who had arrived after us loudly instructed the other people into squeezing together a bit more so that the couple with the wheelchair could fit on the elevator and loudly instructed them to squeeze onto the elevator because other wise they would be "stuck waiting forever." Captain Obvious and I were quite surprised by this action because it left us to wait for another elevator (the woman wasn't making room for us in there!).

I don't really know how I feel about this little incident. I mean on one hand of course it is good to be polite and helpful to a person in a wheelchair, but on the other hand, is it acceptable to be nice to someone in a wheelchair and thereby leave a person who is not in a wheelchair in the lurch? I am suppose I am capable of walking up 5 flights of stairs, but it is not really advisable for someone missing 2/3 of her right lung. Just because I look healthy does not mean I am. We were in a hospital, after all! Was the woman riding in the wheelchair (a hospital one, not her own, so perhaps she was just as able to walk up 5 flights as I am...) permanently handicapped or was she in the wheelchair in anticipation of a procedure? Oh well, no biggie. Just a little something to ponder. We were a little late for the arrival time since we had to wait another 10 minutes for another elevator.

I was a bit surprised by the amount of paperwork I was asked to sign and read, seeing as I had already done the check-in process once before (on May 15) and while I remembered some of the paperwork, there was more this time. Weird.

The nurse called me back pretty quickly, allowed Captain Obvious to come with me without any pleading on my part. She had me give a urine sample (for a pregnancy test) and change into a hospital gown (but I could keep my underpants on!). I asked for the IV in my left elbow since my right elbow was still bruised from the blood draw 2 days before (Tuesday). She was a little reluctant to put it in the elbow, but when I and Captain Obvious told her that IVs were difficult for me and that we'd appreciate it if she could put it there, she complied with my wishes. It was quick and well done, so I only cried after it was in place. That seemed to freak her out a little. I guess people who are around IVs and veins and blood and insertion like that all the time get inured to all that stuff and can't understand my sensitivity, fear, and disgust. She also told me I should get a port. Blech!

My blood counts from the draw the week before and from Tuesday were both normal (don't know what they were), so the procedure was a go. Soon enough an orderly appeared to wheel my stretcher down to the basement room where the procedure would take place. The elevator came quickly that time! I tried to make jokes and talk with him and with Captain Obvious, who was walking along behind, but I must not have been very funny because neither of them laughed much. Once in the basement I was wheeled into a space enclosed by curtains. The resident (Dr. Pun) came shortly and talked with us about the ablation. He answered all of our questions thoroughly and he was very nice and personable. Dr. Hong (the radiologist) came along and said hello as well. I signed the form saying I had been advised of the risks of the procedure and of the alternative treatments I could undertake (and even told the resident one he had missed). Captain Obvious signed as witness to this. I was wheeled away by a tech after a last kiss from my sweet husband.

The room was cold and no one really talked to me. I suppose they were busy. When they did talk to me, they were friendly but short. I had to lie on my back with my arms above my head. A tech and another guy (another tech?) put these freeeeeeezing cold gel grounding pads on my thighs--outer and inner thighs. I became so cold my teeth chattered! Lying there, cold, I finally realized they were going to put the needle through my chest (therefor through my breast) instead of through my back, like I had thought. I don't know why I thought that they'd go through my back--there is a shoulder blade in the way there...they took a couple CTs of my lungs with everyone out of the room, and then there was a delay during which I entertained myself by trying to change the read out on the monitors by doing things like holding my breath and hyperventilating. I only did that when the nurse (who was ignoring me anyhow) was not around. I could not see the monitors very well, but did not notice much change on them. Then everyone came in wearing their lead shield garments and I knew it was about to begin.

They took a few more CTs and so there was a lot of "Take a deep breath and hold it," followed by, "Breathe normally." The nurse put the sedation in my IV without telling me, so suddenly I felt a weird sinking sensation in my brain. It would have been polite, I think, to tell me she was about to do that! I am still a person! The doctor gave my an injection of lidocaine, then I saw the doctor using a pen to mark my chest. Then I realized it was not a pen but a scalpel--he was making an incision where he could insert the needle. He must have seen me picking up my head to look at what he was doing, because he moved a surgical cloth so that I could not see anymore. Probably a good idea and I kept my head still.

My brain was floaty then and I could see their monitors with the section of my chest and the needle on them. I could see the needle sticking out of my chest (not where it entered the skin, but the handle on the needle sort of floating above my chest). Then it hurt hurt hurt inside my lung. I managed to say something like "that's very uncomfortable," and Dr. Hong told the nurse to give me more sedation. Soon after that I fell asleep and I later told Capt. Obvious that I snored loudly (they must have told me that because they did not tell Captain Obvious anything).

I was dizzy and tired from the sedation but I was determined to go home that day, so I kept myself awake and talking. I even ate. There was some pain inside, but not much, and it did go away almost completely before I left the hospital. My sweet MIL came by to check on me and keep her son company, so that helped to keep me awake as well. The nurse checking on me kept asking if my stomach was ok and I kept saying it was. When I finally did get home I walked in the door, made it to the toilet, and emptied my stomach (bathroom is immediately to the left of our front door). Captain Adorable was asleep in the Ergo on my Mom's back.

I went and got in bed and so did Captain Obvious. He fell asleep, but I heard the sounds of my little son awake and I had to go downstairs to say hello to him. The look on his face when he saw me was so beautiful. :) I was very, very happy to be home. The only pain I had was the feeling that there was a large tender bruise on my chest for the first say or so. Now my only complaint is the effing yeast infection, which has spread up to my neck and down to my armpit. I am not sure the diflucan is working!!

No comments: