March 18, 2019

Cancer - You're outta here!!





So… Tuesday 12th March. That date’s gonna stick. I thought I wouldn’t remember much about it, and I guess I don’t. I can remember the morning prep for the operation, I can remember the ride to the pre-op ward and I can remember moving over to the operating table. And now it’s Wednesday.

At stupid o’clock in the morning I wake up to pins and needles in my fingers and an intense pain at the back of my left heel. What the…?? Seems I’ve got a pressure sore. No biggie, but it’s getting all my attention. So a couple of young bucks in the ICU sort me out and I drift off for awhile. Not for long though. It seems I want to stop breathing and they don’t want me to, so we carry on a running battle with the oxygen tube for the rest of the night. I guess they won.

Now, I’m lying in bed with my head elevated and, even though the Surgeons have been playing with my right eye (which is now covered) I can still see from my left. What I’m looking at is the corner where the wall meets the ceiling, a small window that looks out to the building next door and that’s it. For whatever reason they have me facing into the room rather than out. From my perspective, they’ve got it wrong. I can hear and sense lots of activity behind me but can’t see anything. I’d much rather be looking the other way. I mean, it’s a nonsense really. I’ve just woken up from major surgery and the thing that’s bothering me more and more as the morning wears on is that I can’t see what’s happening behind me.

Get out of bed and stop lying about. It’s late morning and the ICU nurse starts making noises about getting me into a chair. As soon as I hear this I’m trying to get up and the ICU Nurse is trying to slow me down. Anyway, eventually we’re organised and here I am.
 
But wait!!

Bugger – I’m still facing the wrong way.













On the wall in the corner is a Phone/PA system that the nurses use for all sorts of reasons. I hear the receptionist broadcast that there are two visitors for Room 9 – Is it OK if they come in? Apparently, I start yelling at the phone telling her it’s OK and to send them in!

It must have worked ‘cause next thing Denise and Chelle pop in, and everything becomes right with the world.




Did you know there’s an upside to getting an infection in hospital? After a night in a High Dependency Ward with three other snorers, they gave me a single room.

YES!!

PAIN!! – What?? There’s no pain.

Seriously!  There is no pain. There’s a certain amount of discomfort, and the excretion of some very interesting bodily fluids from some unusual places, but honestly – very little to no pain. I guess they’ve got me on the good drugs. I know this won’t be everyone’s experience, but I’ve realised it was the expectation and anticipation of pain that had me worried. Throughout the next three days the worst “pain” I experienced was a Tramadol headache.


   

Who’s this dude??

This was taken on Saturday after Tuesday’s surgery.

So, here’s a question…

How impressed are you with the surgeons, doctors, nurses and all the support staff in Ward 74 at Auckland Hospital?

Want to know how impressed I am?

Watch this space.



 



 

I’m gonna publish this now – but there’s a lot more I want to tell you. Today’s Tuesday – seven days after the surgery.

I’m going home tomorrow.

Do you know, one of the things I’m really looking forward to…

Walking round the garden and feeling the grass under my feet.





Multiculturalism and Kindness walk hand-in-hand


March 12, 2019

And it's all uphill from here...

Hello lovely people,

Update coming in from Dads (self proclaimed) favourite child while Dad rests his weary head.



Dad spent the day laying about on his back and almost 12 hours to the minute we had a call from the hospital to let us know that he was out of theatre and awake.



We have yet to see the docs but by all accounts everything seems to have gone well. Dad is currently in ITU (as expected) hooked up to a few different drains and monitors. But, he has some pretty perfect looking numbers (I suggested he stop laying about and get ready for a run with his perfect obs but he didn't seem keen?) and most importantly his pain is under control.

His face is looking good and his arm and leg don't seem to be bothering him too much. We have left him to sleep and will be heading back up to speak to someone who knows whats happening at around 11am tomorrow.

I will leave the rest for Dad to update when he is feeling a bit more up to it (or for when he has provided instructions).

Thank you to everyone for your kind and loving messages, we have read them all to Dad and he knows that he is in your thoughts.



And until the next time, enjoy this little moment of love and kindness between Mum and Dad prior to surgery this morning  💓💓💓


Much love to you all,

Rochelle xx

March 11, 2019

The Night Before


It’s the night before surgery and lots pf people are asking: “How do you feel?”

Truth be told, I feel reasonably relaxed. I’m finding that every few minutes my thoughts change.






At the moment, I’m thinking about my family and wondering how I can express my love and gratitude for their support. I’ve never been particularly good at words and I’ve never openly thanked them verbally for all they continue to do for me. Maybe it’s just the way I’m put together. For some reason the words just won’t come. I remember at my daughter’s wedding – I walked her down the aisle and presented her to her future husband. All the way along that walk I was practicing what I wanted to say, not only to Adam, but, to my daughter as well. In the moment, I froze and stood there trying to get the words out, but I knew that if I opened my mouth, my emotions would just take over and I’d end up a blubbering mess, so I didn’t say anything. I’ve always regretted that.

Now again, I’m in a situation where I should be trying to express my thanks and gratitude to my family, because I think their pathway through this situation has been, as difficult, if not more so, than mine, and I think again, I haven’t helped to ease their concerns as much as I should. Maybe (hopefully) being able to read this will help them to understand how important and essential they are to me.

Without them, I would be nothing.




I know!!! When I started this blog, I said I was going to be better at replying to your comments. Well, that’s a fail. Thank you to all my friends, for your kind wishes, your love and support, your stories and your jokes. I’ve actually read them all, but I seem to continually be able to find excuses not to reply. I know it’s not good enough and I apologise. But be assured, they do mean a lot to me and I really, really hope you keep them coming. Maybe I’ll be able to make up for it during recovery, but this time, no promises.







Now this is what I mean about changing thoughts!!

The nurse has just been in and asked me how I’m feeling. I said I’m fine – apart from a slight headache – which is the truth. She then asked me how I was feeling about tomorrow? I told her: “I’m quite relaxed. After all, I’m going to be asleep. I won’t care what happens.” Which is also the truth.


I guess when I wake up in a couple of days I probably won’t be as blasé about how I feel but, my thinking at the moment is: “Whatever will be will be”. (Was that Doris Day?) It’s funny how some words stick in your mind. When I was talking to one of the ORL Nurses some time ago, she asked me how I felt. After I told her, she said to me that my attitude was the correct one to be taking into surgery. She went on to say that patients who have the best recovery are those that accept that the professionals they are dealing with know best. There will be bad days and good days during the recovery period and the thing that makes the bad days a little easier is believing that the medical staff know what they’re doing.

….. Looking forward to it!!





I’m gonna stop this now. I think I’ll watch Carrie Pilby. It’s a movie I quite like and hopefully it’ll be a good distraction. Heading off to make a cuppa first.






….. Bye for now.

March 8, 2019

A Glove's Life







Wow, what a rush!!

Here I am lying flat on a moving table. I can’t really tell, but if I go by the gloves on either side of me, I must be purple.



WHhhaaatttsss happening – I just got flipped, and now I can feel something soft underneath me.

OOOFfffff!! – something purple just landed on top of me. Now it’s all dark.

Oh! I get it. I’m a glove and I’m in a box.

Wonder what’s next?


Huh… whaaatt! The light’s changing. It’s been pitch black for so long. Now I can see light around the edges of a hole above me. Why am I leaning over? Oh, I get it. The box has been opened and they’re starting to use us. I must be in a hospital, judging by the voices and activity going on around here. I wonder what I’ll be used for when it’s my turn?

Maybe there’ll be an emergency and one of the nurses might use me to protect one of their hands.

Maybe I might just be used to keep a barrier between the nurse and patient while they change a dressing.

Maybe I might be used when a nurse is hooking up an IV line.

I hope one of the staff don’t use me when they’re changing a bed, or cleaning up a mess.



I really wouldn’t like it if I wasn’t used for something important. After all, that’s what I’ve been hanging around for. Hang on, the light’s getting brighter. I must be getting close to the top.





Woooyessss… my turn! Here comes the stretch!!
OOHhhhhh…. Ugh!!


Ahhh! Bugger. She dropped me.







Now I’m just lying on the floor. What the…?? All that time, preparation and lying about and she drops me. What a waste. I guess someone will pick me up later and throw me in the right bin for disposal. Pity I didn’t get to do anything. No contribution whatsoever.



So, it seems the nurse who dropped me has finished whatever she wanted me to help with and just buggered off, ‘cause she’s gone. I wonder when someone’s going to pick me up? Based on the conversations around me it must be Wednesday today. I’m pretty sure these wards are cleaned every day, so I guess I’ll be gone by tomorrow.  

So, I’m still here. It’s Thursday afternoon now. No one’s picked me up yet, so I’m Just hanging out. I thought I was a gone burger earlier. I saw a broom heading towards me, but it veered off before it reached me so, I guess maybe tomorrow I’ll be gone.



Man… Really!!! 

Here I am just lying around waiting to be cleaned up and what happens? Another glove comes tumbling down from above and almost lands on me. Luckily for me, whoever dropped it tried to catch it with their shoe. That didn’t work, but at least it stopped it landing on top of me.





  


Gotta say – this is getting old. It’s Saturday morning now, and it’s getting a bit crowded. Yeah, that’s right. There’s more of us now. This other dude arrived this morning. So now we’re a threesome. I wonder if today will be the day? Surely someone’s gonna notice and clean us up.








Yay!! Here she comes. I’m sure I’ll be able to catch this broom. Yep, we’re outta here!! Wonder where we’re going? I guess if we’d have actually been used for a higher purpose, we would have been disposed of properly and ended up in a hospital waste pile. Maybe even have made it to the incinerator. 
I’m pretty sure that’s not happening though. Because we’ve been swept up with a broom, we’re more than likely headed for a rubbish bin and eventually to landfill. What a waste. I didn’t get to help anybody, and now I’ll spend the next couple of hundred years wasting away somewhere. Hopefully I’ll be buried properly and not end up contaminating a waterway or being washed out to sea.



I guess time will tell.

March 7, 2019

Bloody Whinger!!!



I’m not happy.

I’m fed up.

I’m over it.

I’m pissed off.



I’ve had way more than enough and last night just topped it off. Somehow the relationship between Doctor, Nurse and Patient has morphed in such a way that I’m now continually winding myself up, thinking about the situation I’m in. When the infection started, almost two weeks ago, I was the victim and because the hospital had stuffed up, everyone I came into contact with was very considerate and supportive and I was convinced that all the speed bumps would be flattened out and we would just get on with it. Now, I get the distinct impression that the constant stream of ever-changing nurses looking after me are all treating me as if I’m the problem.

What am I doing here?

Why am I still on this ward?

When I was self-medicating, before coming to this hospital, everything was under control. A simple cocktail of Panadol and Ibuprofen and I was managing everything ok. Now, I’m getting, Panadol (restricted), Ibuprofen (restricted), Tramadol in two different forms, Severadol, something to thin my blood which I can never remember the name of and buckets and buckets of Antibiotics. I wonder why I feel lousy all the time? But, I think my real problem is, because they’re restricting the Panadol and Ibuprofen the pain gets worse more quickly and I’ll take anything they offer to make it go away.


Anyway, yesterday I was sitting in my bedside chair, being a good little patient, and into the room charged this person, who I’d never seen before, and announced that she was one of the Infectious Disease Control Doctors. In a very loud and demanding voice, she asked to see the infection site, and the PICC line site, then announced that I had damaged skin and that this might be the reason for me getting the infection. I think as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she realized what she'd said and before I could say anything, she quickly assured me that wasn’t why I had become infected. Then she did an about face and charged off out of the room. You might imagine, this interaction left me feeling pretty special, and the more I dwelt on it through the day the more pissed off I became.

My Little Corner of the World
So, I want to tell you about last night. I’m in a four bed ward that seems to act as some sort of day surgery clearing house. Every afternoon/night they bring patients in, that as a rule, seem to stay overnight and get discharged the following day. I’m not sure why I’m in that particular ward. I’ve asked a couple of people and received vague replies that tell me the person I’m asking doesn’t really know. Or care. Sometimes these patients are brought in around six o’clock and other times around ten o’clock. Because my bed is furthest from the door, around seven o'clock I tend to pull the curtains around the bed closed to create some semblance of privacy, but leave the curtain that covers the window to the atrium open and set myself up at the little meal table they provide for the bed. 

View From My Bed
I’m sure this isn’t helping. I sit and stew and think of ways to reinforce the injustice of it all. I didn’t stuff up. Why am I the one paying the price? There’s nowhere else to go. There are no lounges or even places where you can actually view the outside world, ‘cause the ward goes into lockdown at eight o’clock. They have a Whanau room that has a row of really uncomfortable chairs and TV mounted too high on the opposite wall, but this is most times inhabited by some other patient’s family members, who probably couldn’t find, or afford, accommodation close by. I try to distract myself with movies, music, books and computer games, but this is becoming less and less effective. So tonight I'm trying to distract myself by having a whinge.

Back to last night. I’m hiding in my little cubbyhole and they wheel in a couple of patients. No problem. The staff spend a bit of time sorting things out getting organised and then off they go. I think things are going to settle down when one of the guys starts to cough and spit. Next thing, the light come on and he takes himself off to the bathroom where we listen to him clear out his throat and nose. Then he comes back and gets into bed and settles down again and the light goes out. This little episode is repeated at fairly regular intervals throughout the night (why does he have to turn the light on each time?) until just before three when a team of doctors and nurses turn up. They start examining this guy and talking to him as if the problem is in his ears.

Why do Health Professionals speak so loudly to patients? Hasn’t anyone ever explained to them that speaking loudly doesn’t lead to a clearer understanding. 

After about half an hour of this they decided to wheel him off into the night.

“Great”, I think as I try once again to settle down.

Five minutes later and they wheel in some other dude. This one decides he’s going to lie in bed, with the light on, Facetime someone and have a chat in Chinese.

“Enough”. I ring the bell for the nurse and ask her to ask him to get off the phone. What does he do? He decides to talk in whispers. So, I do the unthinkable. I march over to his little area, push the curtain back, point at my watch and tell him to be quiet.

You can probably tell, by this time (4:30 am.), I’m not really in the right frame of mind to sleep, but after awhile things quieten down and… his light comes on. He’s decided he’s going to read his tablet – with the light on.

This goes on until the Nurse comes in at 6:00am to start my IV again. So, I have breakfast, have a shower, and when I come out, my little mate across the way is sound asleep and snoring his head off.

That’s when I started writing this.

It’s now eight o’clock at night and, tonight I have three people sharing the ward. One is my little mate from last night who decided it was a good idea to Facetime at three in the morning and then read through the rest of the night on his tablet with the light on, and one of the others is an older gentleman who’s in for a procedure tomorrow morning. He also has sleep apnoea and uses a very noisy breathing machine. Did you know people who use these machines also snore?

Guess what I’m going to be listening to all night.

Now, at this point I have a choice. I can wind myself up again and start growling at the night staff and making a dick of myself. Or, as my youngest daughter would say, I can suck it up, try to get my head down and act like a civilized adult. Because I don’t like myself when I’m angry I’m gonna try for the second option. Wish me luck.

At the end of all these posts, I’ve included trite sayings about kindness. I do believe it’s something that’s missing in the world today, and I‘d like to think I’m able to “practice what I preach”.

I guess we’ll know in the morning.

March 1, 2019

The Rehearsal


 You know how when you want to become really good at something and there’s an end goal in sight, like if you’re a character in a play and you’re looking forward to opening night, you need to make sure you get things right. If you have a huge cast in the play it can sometimes be difficult to schedule rehearsals to suit everyone. But the important thing is to make sure you can get the main characters together. When one of them “drops the ball” and calls in sick it can upset the entire event. A well as upsetting everyone this kind of thing usually costs a lot of money.

You might have latched on to the fact that I was pretty pumped at the end of the last post. It was all happening. Surgery was going to happen the next day, Tuesday. Well… Nah! I did get to see the inside of the surgery prep room, but when the team had a look at my arm all the smiles turned upside down. I have to say, I’m really pleased they decided not to go ahead ‘cause over the next forty-eight hours things really turned pear shaped.

Ever had a doctor or nurse ask: “Where is the pain on a scale of 1 to 10?” I’ve never really been able to answer that question with confidence, ‘cause I can’t imagine what 10 might be. (Maybe it’s childbirth.) But I think I know what a 7 is now. It’s when the pain brings you to tears, and that happened a couple of times over the next forty-eight hours. It’s now Friday and we’re just starting to get on top of things. They’ve been trying to keep me on IV antibiotics since the failed surgery attempt and they want me to stay on them up to, and after, the 12th. which is my new/old surgery date.

Anyway, we’re now on the fourth attempt to get them into me. We’ve gone from a normal cannula in the arm – that caused all the trouble - to one in the foot that worked ok for a while - to one in the outer Jugular that no one was happy with - to a PICC line that’s now in my left shoulder. Apparently, that’s it. If I bugger this up, I win a year’s membership in the “Pain In The Arse Patient’s Club.”




So now, this is me for the next twelve days. Fingers crossed I get there without causing anyone any more drama. I’m now considered a “high risk” patient and today they’ve started some new protocols. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that this includes – no washing.






Aren’t you glad you’re so far away you can’t visit?

Poor Denise.









How it works is, every six hours I get tied up to a bag of fluid. It takes between half an hour and forty-five minutes to get the juice in, then I normally wander around the hospital for an hour or two looking for new and exciting toilets to get rid of it. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a few to find. If I run out there’s quite a few indoor gardens that I could water. 






Anyway, it’s now Sunday morning and time for a walk. I might have to start doing movie reviews after this, çause I'm pretty sure things are going to get a bit boring for the next week and a bit. We’ll see how we get on.  


Remember…


February 24, 2019

And so it goes...


My apologies to Billy Joel for the plagiarism. I’m not sure how this is going to go. It’s Monday morning now. I’m hoping to finish this tonight, cause tomorrow’s surgery day. We’ve had a few days of stops and starts with a little bit of miscommunication thrown in. I’ll tell you about that in a bit, but first… once more I have to say that the staff in this DHB are wonderful, thoughtful, caring, empathetic, and they smile a lot. But; it’s got to stop. Every sad face, wince, sharp intake of breath or whine gets a “Sorry”. I’m going to find a Swear Jar and change it to a “Sorry” Jar. Every time one of the caregivers says sorry to me I’m going to put their name in the jar. When this is all over, the nurse whose name is in there the most might just get a strip-a-gram when I leave.

Adam??? Are you busy that day???

Auckland, the city of Sails. All I want to do after spending the weekend here is – sail Away, sail away, sail away, as Enya used to say

Auckland Carpark
Remember that eight minute walk from the hotel in Auckland to the hospital? (If you don’t, you haven’t been paying attention.) Well, turns out it’s more like 25 minutes. Not that I’ve actually walked it. Denise has. Every-time we’ve needed to visit the hospital over the last few days I’ve found an excuse to catch a bus or a taxi.

Amsterdam Carpark
 “What about the car”, you might well ask. Well, that’s probably a subject for a very different kind of blog that involves lots of swearing. Let’s just say, at Twenty-One Dollars per day it turns out that bringing a car to Auckland when you ‘re staying in the city is a really bad move. Anyway, you live and (sometimes) you learn.


So, Friday afternoon we rock up to the MDM (Multi-Disciplinary Meeting) and after the obligatory ID process and a short wait we’re shown into a consult room and the parade of doctors starts. The upshot of all this is that, I’m not being admitted on Monday as we were previously told. I’m being admitted right now. The reason: they want to do another CT scan over the weekend to see if the cancer has progressed. Because it’s travelling along my infraorbital nerve, if it’s reached my right eye then it’s gotta go as well as the nerves and bones. It’s a good thing I’ve got a spare.

Now, we didn’t actually get to see the Ward on Friday. As soon as my personal crew of doctors had finished with me at the MDM I was dismissed and told to report back at 08:00am. Saturday morning. They didn’t have a time for CT Scan yet, but I would need to be ready to go first thing in the morning and no food or drink after 6:00am. And, ready I was. So, 11:00am. rolls round and here comes the “Hop-On, Hop-Off” wheelchair. Off we go for a tour of the hospital and I’m kicked out of the chair at Radiology.

“Welcome. Welcome. Come in and lie down here while we get you sorted out.” So, like a good little patient, I do. After getting me all set up, ready to have my “head examined”, another Tech comes in and starts apologising…

“Sorry, sorry, sorry” she says. “I’ve just spoken to one of the doctors and they want the CT Scan done tomorrow so it’s closer to the day of operation.” 

“Cool”, says I - as they got me off the table with what I thought was undue haste – and sent me on my way. Back in the Ward I’m told: “Go home. You can come back tomorrow morning. Just be here before 8:00am. and remember, no food or drink after 6:00am.” So off we go to spend the afternoon with the kids.


Groundhog Day. Next morning, we turn up around seven-thirty and settle in. Mid-morning and once again we hear…
“You can go home if you want. The CT Scan is booked for tomorrow morning, but you’ll have to be here before 7:00am.”

“What the…” and I didn’t even get to ride in the wheelchair today. Anyway, we decided the best thing to do was for me to stay in the hospital. That way, there’s no pressure on tomorrow morning. Whoops – there’s a slight flaw in this plan. I haven’t ordered any dinner or breakfast. We have a chat to Nurse Verrr YBusy and she assures me she’ll make a plan. “What would I like for dinner?” She asks.

“Sausages and mash,” is the reply. No mention of breakfast, because once again I’m not allowed to eat after 6:00am. But that’s fine. Remember me – the eternal optimist?

Anyway, off we go to spend some more time with the kids in the Domain – and that was Sunday sorted.

So, dinnertime rolls around and there’s no sign of any food for Chris. Now, I know there’s no point in whinging about this to the nurses, ‘cause they ain’t the cooks. So, initiative kicks in, and Subway, here I come. Nothing like a Teriyaki Salad to satisfy the worms.



This morning, and here’s the plan.


7:00am. –           Doctor’s rounds.
10:00 am. –        CT Scan.
12:00 Noon -     Lunch.
Sometime after that – Consult with the Specialists to discuss CT Scan results.





What actually happened…

8:00am -             A chauffer arrives with a wheelchair and I’m off for a CT Scan. Now, did you know – ‘cause I didn’t – there’s two Radiology centres in this hospital. One on the second floor and one on the sixth floor. No prizes for guessing that the chauffer dropped me off at the wrong one. No biggie. Once they discovered my real identity they took me to the right one, so it all worked out in the end.

8:45am. – I’m back in the Ward and YAY!!. There’s my breakfast.

12:00 Noon – Lunch. Hang on!! I hadn’t ordered any lunch. What the…!! Remember yesterday when I ordered Sausages and Mash for Dinner? No… you’re wrong. The Sausages and Mash had been crossed out on my menu sheet and replaced with – Cauliflower and Broccoli covered in a cheese sauce. Yum!! Luckily, I found some Mushroom Soup on the tray as well. Also, my wonderful wife wandered off and came back with all sorts of goodies from the Café downstairs. So, I’m a happy camper.

It’s now 2:15pm. with no sign of the Specialists, but that’s cool. I’m off to work on my jigsaw now.

Well, time marches on...

Now, I haven’t told you the story of the Intravenous Line. I wasn’t going to but now it’s developed into a central character. Last night about midnight my right arm started to get my attention around the site of the IV line. By 3:00am. I caved and wandered off to ask the Night Nurse what she thought. Seems it “tissued”. Apparently that means the IV had moved, lost the vein, and was playing havoc with the tissue around the site. (It’s good to have a wife who’s an ex nurse.) So, that IV was removed and they put another one into a different site. All good – problem solved.

Well…!!!

Bugger!!
This afternoon they noticed the redness – took a swab and it turns out I have an infection in my right arm from the IV line. GGGggggreat!!! About ten minutes ago the anesthetist came to check me out, spotted the infection and raced off to tell the Surgeon. So, the weather forecast from here us looking pretty bleak right now. Storm clouds are gathering over us and there’s lots of thunder running round in my head. It’s 6:30pm – surgery’s supposed to start at 08:00 and the only person who can make the call is still working. I hope they haven’t filled the original spot for the 12th. March. Anyway, time will tell.


Time for me to stop writing now. Am I gonna have surgery tomorrow? Dunno!! I’ll keep you posted. I'm now getting an IV for antibiotics to try to wash the badies away. So that's me for tonight. 


Don’t forget… When you’re frustrated, recognize the mood and make sure you remain kind to those around you.