Life Goes On…

Today’s adventure began when we woke up to snow on the ground!  Snow!  On November 12, 2013!  In Kentucky!

Granted, my Yankee friends would have absolutely snorted if they saw what minuscule amounts of the frozen precipitation, but for us southerners, snow is snow!  After the terrible year lacking in almost any visits from Suzy Snowflake, it was fun to wake up to it.  Besides, the first snowfall of the season is always special!

The next course of events included saying goodbye to the kids, reminding them to try and keep the day’s school work at the top of their to do lists, and to stay on task as much as humanly possible regardless of parents in the home.  No problem, right?  Thank goodness for schedules and to do lists in this instance.  Sure, some math problems were skipped, but for the most part, the kids did what we asked.  Blessings and full hearts abound.  They even manged to play in the snow a bit and called their own patch of flakes on the ground where the sun had not yet hit to melt it.

Meanwhile, Todd and I checked into the hospital with no problem and began the waiting game.

Why are hospitals so cold, I wonder?  Today, it seemed especially chilly in the prep area of the Heart Institute, where I waited to have the test.  Is it because I’m an oddity of nature and start to freeze when I’m nervous?   I still cannot say enough about those warmed blankets, though.  So very incredibly lovely.  They just never disappoint.  It may be the reason I keep going back.  Gotta have me some heated blankets.

I kid.  As I changed into a hospital gown and fumbled once again with how. the. heck. to tie the strings in the back (seriously? is that on purpose that those things are so billowy and difficult to navigate? do they have hidden cameras to spy every patient’s frustrating and lonely struggle behind the curtain and split their sides over us on break?), I thought to myself at how much I would rather be at home savoring a cup of coffee and settling into the homeschool day of numbers, phonics, writing with dress-ups and decorations, parsing and diagramming sentences, and reading about Japan’s Heian Period than waiting.   Regardless, here we were, and it was too late to run away.  Besides, I couldn’t even tie my hospital gown, so it would have been a frigid–and awkward–getaway.  So I obediently sat down on the bed and waited patiently for all the pomp and ceremony that comes with a 45 minute test and three-hour recovery.

Through the course of content to treat papers and the usual health history questions, the nurse discovered that a food allergy I have could potentially cause adverse reactions to the contrast dye the test required.  A discussion ensued over whether to give preventative meds to stave off a possible reaction.  In the end, the decision to be better safe than sorry came down from someone in higher authority than the nurse, and I swallowed the harmless Benadryl pills and endured the GALLON of steroid meds she injected into my muscle.  Yeah, my butt muscle.  (Oh, what? It wasn’t actually a gallon? Just a huge vial of the stuff? Oh, OK. I’ll be honest.  But in my world, shots happen in three easy steps: poke, shoot, get out.  This happened more like poke…..inject….inject more…still more….there’s still a wee bit left in here!….almost done…..ok, you BIG BABY, it’s finished.)  I felt like hollering “I’M NOT ALLERGIC!! I AM NOT ALLERGIC!!! TAKE IT OUT ALREADY!!!” but I just grimaced at Todd, who laughed at me.  Then showed me a YouTube video of a guy who he said I reminded him of.  Nice.

After that delay, it was close to 11am.  Not bad for a 9am test, right?  Things started moving quickly after I was preventatively medicated.   First stop was the x-ray room, which felt like just a short trip down a hallway or two, but was actually a trip to the Great White North.  Or so it seemed.  It was freezing in that room!  The good news was that the nurse watching over me commiserated with what was happening and acknowledged that the room was in fact cold.  The bad news was that I had worn pants with two small circles of metal on them, and, as a result, had to take them off for the x-rays.  Boo!  Enter the biome of the tundra.   Now it’s just me, that extra body fat I usually curse, but now call upon to somehow keep me warm, and that painfully thin gown.   Next the nurse instructed me to lay flat face down on the x-ray table.  The practically refrigerated table.  Noooo problem.  I obliged and climbed up there.  The table did not disappoint.  Cold indeed.

The nurse disappeared and when she returned, she chipperly announced that the thermostat in the room was set to a chilly 66 degrees! That explained a lot!  While she was gone, I moved into full-on full body shakes. With one side of my brain, I did everything I could to stop shivering while another area of the brain kept on doing its parasympathetic thing.  Of course, I start thinking back to what I know and how important it is to be absolutely still while the man with the needle scopes out my spine.  Yes….this does not seem good.  Even with four blankets over the top of me, still shaking.

Enter the man with the needle.  He’s all business.  Maybe as cold as the room.  I decided not to share my sob story anxieties about what he’s about to do to me, figuring it would go right past him anyway.  For this short time, it’ll be me, the gown, and Jesus.  While Rich Mullins’ song was running through my head, I should have started humming it into the pillow my face was mashed into.  That would have been funny–to me, anyway.  At the time nothing seemed funny, however, so I kept it to myself.  It helped me.  That and my Bradley training of the skill of relaxing.  Somehow I stopped shaking.  Maybe it was because when Needle Man strode in, my reaction changed from shaking to sweating.  Yes, that probably had a big something to do with it…

All Business Needle Man puts his mercifully warm hands on my back to scope out his place of business, and marks a couple dots with an unusually sharp-tipped pen.  Is everything in this place either sharp or cold?  I begin to question my sanity just a tad.  Moving right along, he cleans my back with the antiseptic he only moments before pulled out of the freezer and wipes away.

Next comes the numbing shot.  I’m ready, I’ve thought about it often, and I’ve faced my demons.  The numbing shot and I will never be friends, but I greatly respect its place in life.  I did appreciate the second hit, but I made it through.  Seriously, it is just a second or two, I rationalize to myself in silence.

After just a short wait, it comes time for the real action and the puncture.  I definitely felt it and always freak out about any outside thing that inflicts pain in a spinal region.  It was several moments of focused relaxing and just waiting it out while Needle Man injected the dye.  In a sudden wave, my head started feeling fuzzy and my ears began to ring.  Ooooh, this just keeps getting better! Am I have an actual trip, I wonder? A contrast dye trip.  I am such a party animal.

But then, it was finished.   Almost immediately I noticed an increase of the leg pain which precipitated my visit here today.  That’s not good news in general, but it’s really not a welcome sensation to have when told to be still for the actual tests.   It wasn’t unbearable, so I did my best to lay still.   The next part of the procedure is to tilt the table down so my head was lower than my feet, to move the contrast dye to the appropriate places in the spine.  Not a problem, thanks to the nurse who spotted me and kept me from sliding right off and onto the floor.  How thoughtful.   After a few films in that position, the table tilted again, this time where my head was higher than my feet.  I asked if this would be a good time to run away, but once again, realized that it would be a cold–and awkward–escape, being without pants and all…  All Business Needle Man laughs politely and asks me to roll on one hip so he can take more films.

After that, his part is done and he thanks me and leaves.  The nurse who turned up the thermostat then stepped in and did her follow up x-rays, which didn’t take long at all.   When finished, there was a short wait while they checked the quality of the x-rays taken, and when it was confirmed that they were acceptable, I rolled back onto the stretcher and said “Good day!” to the freezer table.

Next stop was the CT room, the least invasive part of the procedure.  Yay.  At first the tech set me up laying face up, but soon realized that for this test I had to be face down with my arms out over my head (like Superman)  and face smashed into the pillow (definitively not like Superman).  Humorous, but nothing more than an inconvenience.  If I hadn’t had to stay completely still in that pose, the manly computerized voice alternately telling me to “Hold your breath”…….”Breathe” would have made me giggle.    This part took all of ten minutes, and after I had rolled back onto the gurney, we headed back to my room.  After a short misstep that landed me in room #7 instead #6, we quickly realized those weren’t my polyester pants and blouse sitting on the chairs, and corrected our mistake.

Safely back to the correct room, I began the boring three-hour recovery of laying with my head raised at a 30 degree angle, though none of us had a protractor.  (If we’d measured it, I’d be wiling to bet it was actually 27 degrees. ha) Todd was there for most of the time, though he did go home to grab some lunch, check on the kids, and pick up some copyediting work that I wanted to try to do while we waited.

The rest of the time in the hospital was happily anticlimactic.   I drank some fluids to try to metabolize the contrast dye, I enjoyed a hospital-grade turkey sandwich while laying almost flat (not graceless at all), and even watched a bit of Thanksgiving cooking on TV.  Todd made some phone calls, I finished two entries, and the nurses came in and checked on me periodically.  Being flat on my back for that long is not the best way to avoid the pain that brought me there, and with the start of the dreaded headache coming on, I accepted a lower dose pain pill.

Thankfully, at exactly post three hours, the nurse came in, read the release papers, and instructed Todd to get the car and me to get dressed.  It was time to leave!  Woo-hoo!  It was all quite mercifully unceremonious.  I felt pretty normal:  a bit of increased pain in the usual places, a slight headache, a fuzzy head from Lortab, but all in all, not bad.  Mostly tired, and probably from doing absolutely *nothing* all day long.

I am kicking myself that I didn’t ask for a copy of the tests from today!  I do not know what I was thinking, because had I walked out with them, I could have a good head start on my doctor and spend countless additional hours learning how to read CT scans and x-rays! I am so upset about that, but sadly did not realize I had forgotten until we were halfway home.  Such a mistake.  In any case, though, I should hear from the doctor within 48 hours as to what, if anything, was revealed in the tests.  Oh goody! More waiting!  And I don’t have any films with which to pass the time….  Woe is me.

Actually, I’m incredibly thankful that so many people expressed well wishes, offers to pray, and food!  I don’t know if my family knows exactly how blessed we are and how covered we are in the food department.  (I really do think they are thankful, though)  Maybe I should stop planning ahead and not have dinner in the crock pot before we go…


In any case, on to the next thing.  Or things.  As I look around and survey my to do list, there are plenty to choose from indeed. Better yet, none of them involve needles!  God is GOOD!



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