Monday, October 21, 2013 was a non-treatment day for me. I did need to go to the clinic for an iron infusion, however. I was not at all enthusiastic about having the port accessed so soon after the previous Monday's ordeal, when three harpoons were stabbed into me. I prepped the area around the port with a numbing agent, then obediently drove to the clinic. Mentally though, I dragged my feet.
Vitals were taken, weight measured, B12 and neupogen injections given, and then it was into an infusion recliner for me. This time, thank goodness, accessing the port went flawlessly! Whew! Harpoon "in", saline flush, and even a blood draw via the port. Done, done, done.
During the prep time the oncologist greeted me and asked about pain at the surgical site. "Still there," I reported. She wanted to assess. This would mean moving to an exam room, postponing the iron infusion for a few minutes. The nurse left the harpoon and associated access tubing in place, using paper tape to attach it to my shoulder temporarily. Upon my return to the treatment room, she would be able to hook me up to the infusion pump in no time. The paraphernalia taped to my sweater reminded me of a bizarre corsage.
Me: I feel pretty.
Nurse: Everyone's going to want one of their own.
We crossed the large treatment room, then made our way down the hall, past the waiting room and finally to an exam room where the doc found all of my sore spots (of course she did!). Then she said she'd like my surgeon to have a try, too. She phoned him, and he agreed that I should be seen in his office. She instructed me to make an appointment with him when I got home.
Back to the treatment room for iron--glorious, energy-enhancing iron. The oncologist followed me as I returned to the recliner, and spoke of vitamins, folic acid, and heartburn meds as I got settled into the chair. She stood in front of me writing prescriptions, which someone would phone in to the pharmacy (convenient!), then left the room. It was as she walked away that I realized that I had brought no reading material with me. No Kindle, no books, no laptop, and no companion either!
I needed something to do. I was too shy to suggest turning on the T.V. to the other reclining patients. I stood up, hoping to find some decent reading material on the shelf across the room since I knew that the infusion, once it started, would take an hour.
"Once it started" is the phrase to note. I thought that the infusion hadn't started yet. I was wrong!
Two seconds after I stood up and began walking across the treatment room a nurse came flying out of the cocktail bar, with arms outstretched and frantically waving her hands in front of her.
Nurse: Whoa! Whoa! Whooooooaaaa!!!
Me (unspoken): Who's she talking to?
Just then I was jerked back. Oh nooooo! The tube leading from my port was pulled tight and I felt a nauseating tug from the hardware in my chest. I stopped dead in my tracks as the nurse leapt behind the row of chairs like a super-hero. In a blink she unplugged the infusion pump from the wall, freeing me for my walk across the room.
Me, panicked: Uh-oh!
Nurse, cheerily: Don't forget your skinny boyfriend.
Me: OHHH my goodness. I didn't know I was connected.
I was connected like so:
me with embedded port
harpoon stuck into port
catheter connected to harpoon
bag of iron connected to catheter
I.V. pole connected to bag of iron
I.V. pump connected to the I.V. pole
electrical outlet (the WALL) connected to the I.V. pump (cord).
I had tried darting away, oblivious that I was tethered to the wall! Unbeknownst to me, someone had connected the harpoon in my chest to the waiting bag of I.V. fluid while I was talking to the doctor. How could I have not notice that?!
Nurse: No harm done. We had you taped up good.
Me: Sorry for the heart attack.
Me: If I close my eyes, I will be invisible! It works for my six-year-old...he says.
Also Me: I wonder if I would have responded better if she had yelled, "Stop!"
Mortified, I continued to my destination, this time consciously aware that I needed to bring the rolling pump/pole contraption along with me as though nothing had happened, certain that other patients' eyes were following my path. I grabbed a book. I returned to my spot and tried to disappear. I hid behind "Against All Enemies" by Tom Clancy while piecing back together the shreds of my dignity.
When I got home, I konked out on my bed and woke up to find that the Iron Fairy had delivered my brain. Not only that, but I could now stand up without a mini-blackout.
Iron, I love you. Don't ever leave me again!