Friday, July 1, 2016

I'm Angry, I'm Sad, And I'm Definitely Scared

I woke up, showered with the special cleansing fluid they want you to use before surgery, then, after Stacie got here, Rachel drove me to the hospital. It was to be a routine surgery to put my chemo port in, so, Rachel dropped me off and headed back home.

After meeting with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist they wheeled me to the operating room. I moved from the bed to the operating table, and that's the last thing I remember.

I awoke to nurses telling me I had a seizure during surgery so it was called off.

I'm instantly an emotional wreck.

"I need the fucking chemo port!" I yelled at them.

I know my time is running out. It's been five weeks since I had the big surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes. There is still a lot of shit that needs to get done before I can start chemo and radiation, and this aborted surgery is shortening the very little time that I have.

They try to calm me down but I'm having nothing to do with it. I just keep repeating that I need to get the chemo port. It's fairly chaotic in the recovery room but eventually the shock is so overwhelming that all I can do is stare off in space. I block out everything but my thoughts.

What do you mean I had a seizure? I've never had a seizure before. I need to start chemo and radiation soon. Do I now have brain cancer, a fucking tumor on my brain? What the fuck am I going to do now? Why can't I get a fucking break?

Frustration and fear overwhelm me.

All I can do is cry.

A nurse wipes away my tears with a tissue.

I continue to stare off in space.

Then my family doctor enters the room.

I've known this man for the past 15 years. He delivered both my kids and has helped Rachel and I deal with all the shit we've been through during that time. He was the one who saved my life when I was hospitalized for 17 days with staph endocarditis. He knows us very well and we have a terrific relationship with him.

We make eye contact.

The ability to control my emotions disappeared and all I can do is cry even more. Sob, actually. I'm just livid and sad and scared. Crying was all I could manage to do.

He touches my arm and says "I know, Randy."

Through anger and tears I reply, "I need my fucking chemo port, Rob."

A nurse wipes away more tears.

He had seen the report of the aborted surgery and he just wanted to come down and check on me.

That's who he is.

My family is lucky to have him as our doctor.

His presence helped ground me. Oh, I'm still pissed off and scared shitless, but I started feeling the ground under my feet again. He gets credit for helping that happen.

They want to keep me overnight to make sure I don't have another seizure. So after Rob leaves, they wheel me up to my room on the second floor.

Another shitty hospital room.

Another shitty hospital bed.

Another shitty fucking day.

Unbeknownst to me, our friend Stephanie, who is a nurse at the hospital and actually helped get me ready for surgery, called Rachel and told her that I had a seizure and she needed to get to the hospital.

The nurse is getting crap hooked up to me when Rachel enters the room. I think our friend Stacie, who also works at the hospital, is behind her but I can't see for sure.

The nurse walks out of the room for a minute.

Rachel says "How are you doing?"

I start punching the bed and screaming "I'm fucking pissed, that's how I'm doing! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"

She remains calm.

We're alone in the room. So if it was Stacie, she exited.

If I had had something to throw I would've thrown it. But I didn't, so I just kept saying I was pissed off and I needed my chemo port.

The nurse came back into the room.

Rachel and I stayed quiet, but I'm sure we both we're thinking the same thing: I have brain cancer. I'm a dead man.

A short while later they take me to get an MRI of my brain. That was fairly uneventful.

Then it was back to the hospital room.

There was a lot of just staring off into space.

I was in shock.

It was around noon or so now and I had expected to be home watching a soccer game. Instead, I'm staring at another hospital room wall.

Rachel wrote our goal/plan for the day:

It was a good goal.

By this time Stacie had joined us in the room. I think she and Rachel had lunch while I had the MRI. Doesn't seem like a fair deal, but anyway. I still hadn't eaten since 6pm the night before, so Stacie suggested ordering a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. It's not on the menu. She says to order it anyway. Rachel calls in the order. Oh yeah, and a vanilla shake. They have recently become staples in my diet. Stacie was right, it was a pretty good ham and cheese sandwich. I devoured it fairly quickly. And the shake? Let's just say that I had three more of those before I left the hospital the next morning. (Of course I had one with breakfast. You think I'm foolish?)

The MRI results come back. No one could see a mass on my brain, but there are these strange spots on it. More spots than should be there for a 48 year old non-smoking, non-drinking male.

But the doctors are thinking I have brain cancer. They contact Swedish Hospital in Seattle and the plan is to transport me to Swedish because they have more tools to deal with my situation.

Wait. You're going to transport me to Swedish? Like, tonight? This is all moving way too fast.

By this time our friend Bonnie had joined us. When we got the news about being transported to Seattle, Rachel and Bonnie headed home. Rachel had to get things ready for the boys (and where they would stay because they certainly were not going to Seattle with us), handle what to do about the dog, and get stuff ready for us to go.

Stacie stayed with me. A good thing, because I was still livid about this whole situation. She kept my mind focused on other things.

Then our friend Laura, who happens to be a pediatric doctor and therefore knows most of the doctors in town, shows up and the three of us have a good conversation while we wait. Stacie has to leave, so it's just me and Laura when the doctor comes in.

The neurologist at Swedish had looked at the MRI scans and he didn't see a mass either.

That's good news.

Yes, he saw the spots, but he didn't think there was anything that required urgent care. In other words, he didn't think I needed to be transported to Swedish.

That's even better news.

So when Rachel and Bonnie showed up, Laura and I were in a fairly jovial mood. We had just had a great conversation about parenting. I know she understands the struggles that my family goes through, and I certainly understand hers.

We didn't do a very good job of explaining the situation to Rachel, so Laura went to get the doctor. She came in and updated Rachel on the situation and verified that we were not going to Seattle that night.

Finally, things slow down a bit.

I slept well, even though it was in a hospital bed. They put these pads all around the bed just in case I had a seizure.

See those blue pads. Yeah, I felt like I was in a padded room. At times this whole experience leaves me feeling insane, so maybe it's not far off the mark.

I only woke up a couple of times during the night, which for sleeping in a hospital room is pretty damn good. I was up for good around 5:00am. I just listened to music, watched the sunrise, and tried to come to terms with my thoughts.

Our family doctor, Rob, came in around 8:00am or so. One of the things I like about him is that he always stays calm. He tells it like it is but it is always in a calm, relaxing manner.

He had looked at the MRI, and just like everyone else, he didn't see a mass either. And just like everyone else, so far, he didn't know why I had a seizure.

But he did say I could no longer drive.


Tesla and Google need to hurry up so I can get one of those self-driving vehicles.

As usual, it was comforting to talk with him, especially when I am in crisis mode.

So, at the moment, no one is thinking brain cancer. The plan is to go to Swedish and have an EEG and discuss the situation with a neurologist (because I need, yet, another doctor). We'll do this soon. I need to know what's going on with my brain.

As far as I'm concerned, the plan for chemo and radiation is still on track. We'll see if they'll put a chemo port in over at Swedish. If not, then I'll get a pick-line to administer the chemo. I have experience with a pick-line, and I don't really want to go that route. They suck.

One good thing about my hospital room, though. The view:

It's hard to see, but yes, that's Canada across the water. Simply beautiful.

I am very grateful for Rachel, Stacie, Christine, Bonnie, and Laura. Rachel, because without her, well, there would be no me. Stacie, Christine, Bonnie, and Laura for all the help they offered during this most tumultuous time in my life. Christine, thank you for watching my kids. Stacie, Bonnie, and Laura, thank you for spending time with me in the hospital and for keeping me somewhat grounded when all I really wanted to do was scream, cry, throw things, and break anything I could find. I can not express my gratitude enough.

So, not what we expected when we woke up on Thursday morning, but, it is what it is.

You move forward or you give up.

I'm tired.

But I'm not ready to give up.

I'm angry. I'm sad. And I'm definitely scared.

But there is no way in Hell I'm giving up.

No comments:

Post a Comment