Wednesday, December 5, 2007

'A diver, huh?'

That quote, from one stop in my three-part hospital visit today, reminded me of my famous first attempt at skydiving. When we landed that day, my instructor and tandem jumper unhooked our parachutes and safety straps then looked at me and said, "Screamer, huh?" It wasn't until that point that I realized I'd been screaming for our entire 12,000-foot fall.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today is my monthly oncologist appointment and bimonthly MRI scan, and also time to stop at the hospital lab for my weekly blood draw. It's a time of month that always makes me cranky, mainly because it means I'm about to start another round of chemo. On top of that, today's appointments were annoyingly split between early this morning and this afternoon, meaning two trips back and forth between West Seattle and the University of Washington across town. I had decided to avoid that by hanging out for several hours at the University Village shopping center, but after a stop at the Starbucks and quick tours through the bookstore and Apple store I got bored and tired and came back home instead.

Anyway, when I showed up for my MRI this morning the tech lady whose job was to hook up an IV for the contrast dye greeted me with a cheery, "Did you bring your veins with you today?"

I hoped so, remembering my last visit here when the rookie tech stabbed my arm five times and spilled blood all over the chair and my arm before getting a vein. This time, no problem, and the MRI was its loud but normal no-sweat self; half an hour later I was out of there.

So I stopped by the lab to get the blood draw. What would make sense, it seems to me, would be if they could use the same IV to draw the blood that they had just used for the contrast, but no, it was sort-of explained to me, that was against procedures. So the lab lady tapped my right arm and whipped out her needle.

Poke. Nothing. Poke. Nothing.

That's when she said, "Oh, you've got a diver, huh?"

Turns out that's her term, or maybe it's blood-industry jargon, for a vein that seems to dive below the surface out of the way of the incoming needle. So I guess I didn't bring my veins with me today after all, at least not all of them.

No problem, my new friend reassured me, we'll just find another spot. She went on to tell some horror tales of patients, mostly heroin abusers who had ruined all their veins and had to be poked behind the knee or between the toes. One guy, she heard, had so abused his veins but was so desperate for a fix that he was found in a bathroom with a needle stuck in his eyeball.

I could feel little beads of sweat starting to form on my forehead about that time, but she found a non-diver in my right hand and that was that.

Now I'm heading back for a consultation with Dr. Spence or his able nurse practitioner, Jennifer. Update to come.

On the skydiving, by the way: I didn't want my legacy to be "screamer," so I went again a couple of months later. No screaming. Just pure, silent, terror.

Evening update: This afternoon's appointment was no biggie. Dr. Spence seemed pleased by the new scan; no new growth equals good news, he said. We did our little routine -- squeeze my finger, look at my nose -- and then he locked and loaded for another round, still at the reduced dosage that I've been on for the past two cycles. That'll start on Monday.


freda said...

now that's a great writer, you even make a visit to the hospital interesting, when are you going to get started on that book? You are depriving the public.

mich said...

I love this blog!

And I wish I could write half as well as you. sniff.

Rita said...

When the doctor is pleased with the scan - I call it a biggie!

Thanks for the update.

Good luck next week.

Ronelle said...

I am happy to hear your good news -
I hope that such good news will make next week easier for you.

I was thinking that you certainly are a talented writer to weave two such unrelated topics into one post so effortlessly. However, after giving it some thought I realized that they actually DID have a connection. With all due respect - I think you need your head examined for sky diving! The fact that you screamed like a girl shows that you do have some shred of sense! ha ha

If I can do anything to make you feel less "cranky" next week -let me know. I will be sending you all good thoughts for an easy time.

kateco said...

When it comes to bloodletting, I'm afraid I'm a weeper. Okay, I'm outed.