Thursday, March 29, 2012

Down and out

No, not me – the blood techs who tried to start an IV. But I get ahead of myself.

Friday, the heart stress test

I should have realized that it was going to be that kind of day when I got to the garage so early that, lo and behold, there was room to park on the Johnny Mathis floor. Johnny Mathis? What the hell? I debated this, then put in a text.

Me, to Cori: Parked on the Johnny Mathis floor how the hell am I supposed to remember that??
Cori: What? No Tammy?

This is why I have the friends I do – they know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how obscure.

Anyway, I decide to risk it, and head off to the Galt for the stress test. A good sign for a change is that the guy who comes to get me is, hello, a hottie! Sweet! I immediately impress him with my witty banter.

Cute medical guy: Have you ever had a stress test? Do you know anything about how they’re done?
Me, modestly: No, haven’t had one before, but I looked it up on the Google, so I think we can consider me an expert now.

He’s oddly silent at this, clearly in awe. Shrug, I’m used to it.

I then get hooked up to all kinds of machinery for the initial heart ultrasound. Which seems to indicate something, because the US tech decides I need an IV of something or other. To my paranoid mind, they’re being deliberately vague. “I think we need to do an IV. You know, just…..because.” Hmm. But little do they know about my “problem.”

Me: Umm, is an IV easier to put in than to get a blood draw?
US tech: Actually, an IV is harder because it needs to be threaded through the vein a bit.
Me: Oh.

The IV woman comes in, and I give her my standard spiel.

Me: Just so you know, it’s VERY hard for anyone to find a vein on me, they’re very tiny and roll around, so it usually takes them 6 or more tries. I don’t care about that, I just thought I’d tell you.
Nice IV Woman: It’s funny, but everyone who comes in tells me what a hard stick they are – then I come in and I could throw a dart from across the room and get a vein!

This strikes me as hysterically funny.

She continues, looking at my arm, “….but you might be the real deal. Let’s see what we have here….”

(Half an hour later….)

NIVW: Well, this isn’t going so well, is it….

We look down at my right arm, where she’s made 2 attempts, first after getting the babiest tiniest IV she could find. She then decides to go for the left arm.


Oops? I look down and see a rapidly growing bump on my wrist.

“You’re getting a nice little hematoma there. Umm, I’ll call for the other tech.”

Sigh. The other tech comes in, and as is usually the case she’s much more business-like than the first one. Then there’s her assistant, who starts plying me with blankets, and putting little heat packs all over my hands and arms, to help the veins plump up. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle for just an IV. I’m idly listening to their chatter, when I hear…..what?

“So we might have to use the VeinFinder, because I can’t find anything….”

A VeinFinder?? Seriously? This is awesome!

Me, delighted: You really have a VeinFinder? Is that like a Studfinder, where it beeps when it finds a vein?
New IV Tech: Well, actually, it does kind of work like that, though it’s a big machine so we’d have to move you to another room.

They’re debating that, then New IV Tech decides my shoulder might be a good place to start an IV.

Me: Oh, that would be cool, because that area is all numb so it wouldn’t even hurt.
NIVT: Why is it numb?
Me: Well, that’s the arm where I had all those lymph nodes removed. You know, because of The Cancer.
NIVT: Wait, you had nodes removed? This is your bad arm? No one told me that!

She starts backing away from me and disappears. This is starting to feel just a wee bit Monty Python-esque.

Then two doctors come bustling in, and take a look at what the ultrasound tech has been looking at. More cryptic conversation between them, then:

Doctor #1: “Blah blah blah, we’ve decided the images are good enough, blah blah, because we can’t fuckall on you in terms of veins, blah blah, so we’ll call good enough and you can be someone else’s problem some other day, blah blah blah.”

I paraphrase slightly there, but basically that’s what it was. Which is fine, though I’m disappointed I won’t get to experience the VeinFinder. Damn, maybe next time. At least I can be proud of the fact that I’ve broken two more blood draw/IV people. Yesssssss!

We finally forge ahead with the stress test, get that done, and I leave them stunned and amazed at what a fine physical specimen I am. Or something. The doctor calls that evening, and she doesn’t seem too concerned that I’m going to keel over at any moment, though she mentions something about increased pulmonary artery pressure, and the need for more tests. Greeeeeat. Can I just say never mind at this point?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shit is all fucked up and bullshit

So, I think I had a heart attack yesterday.

No, really.

And not as in, “Damn, the high price of The Kone’s CheezyLammies is giving me a heart attack!” or “Wtf, Hoarders is a rerun, that’s enough to give me a heart attack!” or “Is Starbucks trying to give me a heart attack, being OUT of The Kone’s petite scones???”

Nope, not at all. There I was sitting at my computer at around noon, focusing on world dominion as always, having had my usual breakfast of a cup of coffee several hours earlier, when an elephant suddenly started to slowly stomp on my chest. At least that’s what it felt like – as if I had a crushing weight pressing down across my entire chest. And there was this weird pain across my chest – not a sharp pain in the heart area, but on both sides of my chest equally. And I felt lightheaded and had this sharp pain all along my jawline. For those who don’t know, these are ALL signs of heart attack in women.

My first thought, of course, was “Shit, I may have to call 911, I had better find some clean socks to put on.” I kid you not – I started looking for socks. Because we all know how critical that is when one is having some kind of potentially catastrophic medical event, that no one is laughing at your socks that are all dusty from chasing your dog around the house and outside.

So I find some socks, and then think oh, I’ll lie down for a second, maybe a different position will help. My breathing isn’t too great either, because lo, I have an elephant standing on my chest, but I lie down. With the help of The Kone, who jumps up on the bed to get comfy next to me. Pain/pressure still there. I get up, and realize I don’t even know where the closest emergency room is – and I’m not sure if I could even drive myself there. But 911? Hell, I’ve never called them in my life.

Luckily, as I’m dithering over socks and phone calls and such, after about 10 minutes the pain goes away. Because clearly I’m an idiot, and if it hadn’t gone away, I’d probably be found eventually on the living room floor, dead, still clutching a pair of clean socks.

Then I do the smart thing that they always tell you to do – I send an email to close friend Kimmy…….who lives in Portland.

“That was weird, I think I just had a heart attack, I’m still freaking out.”

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I get in to see the doctor a couple of hours later, they take the whole thing seriously, especially given that oh, the 7 weeks of radiation I had could have damaged my heart, plus FatSurly (Tamoxifen, for the uninitiated), is known to cause blood clots. They take blood – which they manage to get on the 6th try. Yes, 6th – and this only after I pleaded with blood drawer #2 to keep trying.

“Oh, I usually stop after 2 tries – I don’t like to upset people.”

Me: “I’ll be slightly more upset if I have a heart attack and die, so really, please, keep trying – I don’t care, I’m so used to it, you have no idea.”

EKG, fine. Blood tests, fine. I have a stress test scheduled for Friday morning, because I know something weird happened. A heart thing, a clot, something. My friends know that I don’t go rushing to the doctor for any little thing, and I’ve had chest pains before, which I’ve just ignored.

But this, this was weird. And different. Something happened, and they need to figure out what’s going on before I keel over on one of my 8-hour bike rides in the middle of Bumblefuck Cornland.

So that’s me. In the meantime, Kimmy has gremlins gnawing on her bones causing her extreme pain, Melindy has had a migraine for 15 days now, Adrienne (pregnant) had some weird kind of spotting and is now on bed rest, and Cori was told today that she of all people has dangerously low potassium and something going on with her tumor markers. And Cori’s Pudgy wound up almost dying last week from leptospirosis.

Given that all of us just came back from Charleston 2 weekends ago, what’s happening is perfectly clear: we picked up a haint or a curse along the way. Right? I mean, what else could it be?

So – if anyone out there has any good anti-curse spells or good luck charms, please send them our way. Clearly, we need them.