Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wound Vac Stories and More...

Twice a week from February 3rd when I was released from the hospital until March 15th, my parents would drive me from our house in Orange County to City of Hope Medical Research Center to have the Wound Vac dressings changed. City of Hope is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountain Range's foothills. These foothills are home to places such as the City of Pasadena, the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade, Santa Anita Race Track, several colleges including Azusa Pacific University and the original home of Dr. Dobson's first ministry, Focus on the Family. This area was also where my parents grew up, met and graduated high school together. I only spent my first couple of years living in this area before we moved.

Aside from going to City of Hope twice a week, I would also go to California Integrated Hyperbaric Center for vitamin C infusions twice a week. Since the nurse for these infusions was only available 3 days a week, we usually did a Tuesday/Thursday schedule and double booked one of our days with City of Hope. We would typically go in the early afternoon so mom could get home and cook dinner for dad.

Me with (L to R) Stephanie, Nurse Shannon and Lani
from California Integrated Hyperbaric Center.
This is how every session of a vitamin C infusion would go:

  • Arrive at 11am or 1pm.
  • Have a heating pad warm up my right hand to be able to find a vein.
  • Wait for nurse Shannon to mix up vitamin C solution for 20 to 45min.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Have IV started in hand and begin IV drip.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Fall asleep on the sofa wrapped up in a blanket (I was always freezing from the amount of fluids).
  • Wake up and go to the bathroom again.
  • Eat a snack or lunch and drink a home brewed organic tea.
  • Go to the bathroom again.
  • Lay down again and take a nap.
  • Wake up and go to the bathroom again.
  • Sit on the sofa and bug mom with a million questions.
  • Race to the bathroom again.
  • Finish the IV fluids and wait for nurse Shannon for 10 to 30 min to remove the IV.
  • Go to the bathroom again before getting in the car.
  • Drive home and get in the house.
  • Go to the bathroom again right away.

I don't know the size of the IV bag, but I know it was the largest IV bag available on the market. Nurse Shannon had to keep those bags in stock for me because the amount of fluid that was needed for my infusions was huge. That is why I was always going to the bathroom while receiving the infusion.

After I had the Wound Vac removed on March 15th, I had a vitamin C infusion. That day was like most other days, so nothing out of the ordinary. Then, the following day I was back at City of Hope seeing a radiation oncologist getting his opinion about radiation treatment. Hearing what "could" happen during radiation scared the living daylights out of me. He made me wonder if I was making the right choice. Yet, hearing what "could" happen if I didn't go through radiation also scared the living daylights out of me. What to do now?!?!?!?

Either situation was scary. Come out with skin burns, possible organ failures, etc. or rapidly progressing cancer, excessive pain, etc. Which outcome would be better to live with? This oncologist had a worse bedside manner than my surgeon did at first. He was such a mean man I called him "Putzner" when his name was Dr. Pezner. Either way, I really didn't like this guy and I think he knew it. But, we would be back again in a few days to set up everything needed for radiation therapy.

Diane, RN. during one of our Wound Vac changes.
Then, the following day, March 18th I was back at City of Hope yet again and was having the Wound Vac put back on. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride with the Wound Vac being put on, taken off, put back on again. Argh! The consolation was that we got to see our favorite nurse, Diane. She always made changing the wound vac an experience to remember. We certainly love her and are grateful God brought her into our life.

A couple days went by and we were back at City of Hope again having the procedure where they use a CT scan to get the patient placed on the radiation machines just right. They line up your body through a series of scans and placement, marking and remarking to get it just right. After they feel they got it, the dr. comes in and looks at the final scan approving or not approving. When he approves, they place single dots of tattoo ink to mark the locations of alignment along with body paint and clear stickers for the techs to find and align the patient on the radiation table just right. When you leave, you feel like everyone is staring at you because you are all marked up with this stuff. In my case it was waist to toe, so people could see my markings on my legs as I was wearing capri pants. Oh how fun!

So after being tattooed, I had to meet with the radiation dr. We hadn't been too fond of him the last meeting, so we were hoping he was better today. That thinking was futile. He was even worse than before. He hadn't explained how any of the treatments would work, when they would start, how long they would last, etc. When he came in and talked with my family, we finally had to break in and ask him some questions.

I really had a deadline to get back to work because of the FMLA time almost being over for me. He was taken aback by this and started yelling at me that I had been wasting his time and wasn't taking this seriously, etc. I was stunned by this reaction since he was the one that hadn't given us any kind of instruction, so how were we supposed to know. I was so shaken up, I was literally shaking from head to toe from anger. My mom and dad knew this was not a good thing. I asked the doctor to leave the room so I could talk to my parents. He was taken aback by a patient dismissing him from their presence. He slowly exited the room after a couple times of trying to banter with me. But I held my ground about his leaving.

Once my parents and I discussed the situation, my dad asked the doctor back in and took the lead in explaining that we had to discuss this as a family to see when we could work in the therapy. In reality, there was no way on earth I was going to let this guy be my doctor. And my parents agreed. I should never have been treated the way I was. Patients are scared enough by the mere word "Cancer," let alone a doctor who tries to argue, belittle and berate you as a patient. There is no reason that should ever happen.

Next..."More Wound Vac Stories and More..."

This was another test in the anger arena. The radiation doctor was beyond his boundary. My father was a calming effect for me during this time. Mom was a comfort for me. And scripture was water to my soul. If you miss the last set of scriptures regarding anger in our lives, I've added it below again. Please reflect on these scriptures if you struggle with anger and feel free to email me so I can pray for you and with you and a brother/sister in Christ.

Blessings All!

The Nature of God
"But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;" Psalm 103:8-9

How We Are to Deal With Anger
"Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

"But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Romans 2:8

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

“'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Ephesians 4:26-27, 31

"But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." Colossians 3:8

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:19-21

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