Saturday, 2-09-02, and yesterday I got my CAT
The doc wanted it done from my abdomen down to my leg, in
order to see if there's anything going on in there that we don't know
about yet that could be preventing the blood clot in my leg from
dissolving as quickly as it should be, and causing me all this continued
pain in my left leg.
I'm going to tell you all about that, but first let me bring you up to
speed since my last update.
The morning after my 2nd chemo treatment, I woke up and immediately got
sick, but it really wasn't all that bad, compared to some of the hangovers
A little while later, I felt nauseated and took a Torecan
for the first time to relieve it, and everything was good
Well, since then, I haven't gotten sick or even nauseated at ALL!
Add to that, I still haven't experienced
ANY hair loss at all, and I just gotta say, this chemo thing hasn't been
so bad after all, especially compared to the way I expected it to
be! In fact, other than being more tired than usual, this has been
really EASY to deal with so far!
Now, I realize all that could change as I get more chemicals put into my
body with each treatment, and I recognize that many others have had a much
tougher time with it. But for any of you that may ever have to go
through this someday, just know that you won't necessarily have a bad time
with it either, so don't worry too much about it, k?
Besides, over the last couple of months I've seen lots of other people at
the cancer center getting their chemo treatments too, and none of them are
freaking out either, even the ones wearing wigs and hats. I think
most of it is the not knowing part that's so scary. After you get
one or two, it's easier to deal with, 'cause then you know what to expect
and you realize it's all gonna be ok after all.
That was last Tuesday and Wednesday. The next few days, I mostly
just rested a lot, took my medicines, and rolled around the house in my
wheelchair. On one of those days (I forget which one exactly) I got
a call from the doctor's office, telling me that I could stop taking the
Lovenox shots again, which was cool.
As I took the Morphine
pills twice a day, as prescribed, I felt a
little less pain in my leg every day, and on Monday, 2-4-02, I was able to
get out of the chair long enough to hobble and limp to the bathroom and
kitchen on my own two feet again. After each of those short trips,
the pain flared up again for 15 or 20 minutes, then would slowly subside
The next day, Tuesday, 2-5-02, I had an appointment for another blood
draw, and decided not to use the wheelchair at all, if I didn't have to.
The blood draws are walk-in type things for me, rather than an
appointment, so I can just go get them any time, as long as I'm there the
day I'm supposed to get them. So, we decided to go in the afternoon,
and mom came to get me about 2:00 or so. I made it down the front
steps and to the car without too much trouble at all, and we were on our
We decided we were hungry, so mom and I stopped off at a Burger King for a
juicy, flame-broiled whopper, OUR way! Hehehe! What happened
next was a textbook example of how NOT to run a FAST food restaurant...
We pulled into the parking lot and saw a long line of cars backed up at
the drive-thru. Even when we go through the drive-thru's at these
places, we always park to eat anyway, cause it's just not safe to eat and
drive at the same time. So this time we decided to just go in and
have a seat at a table with our lunch.
Inside, the line only had about 5 people in it, and most of them had
already ordered and were just waiting for their food. I ordered a #2
with cheese, mom ordered chicken nuggets, I think, and I sprung for the
tab this time.
My leg was still feeling pretty weak and
aching a little, so I decided to have a seat while mom waited at the
counter for the food. I hobbled on over to one of the hard, plastic
booths and had a seat, facing the street. I was ok with short walks
and standing for a minute or two, but that was about as far as I could go
with it at a time before needing to rest it.
As I sat there watching the traffic go by, it seemed to be taking a long
time, so I turned to see where she was. I figured by now she'd be
filling the drinks or something. To my surprise, she was exactly in
the spot where she was when I left her, and so were the rest of the people
in line. Some of them looked angry, some a bit amused. All
were obviously running out of patience.
Behind the counter, BK workers (especially the manager - a short, bald man
with sideburns that didn't fit the picture) were rushing back and
forth like mad and getting absolutely nothing accomplished! Orders
were all messed up, folks weren't getting what they ordered and paid for,
fries weren't ready, the drive thru line was getting longer and slower,
stuff was getting dropped on the floor, then they were taking the time to
pick it up and throw it away - it was a total madhouse! They were
even to the point of frustration where they were throwing burgers in the
trash if they weren't part of someone's order!
This went on, while mom waited in line and I sat in the booth, for nearly
20 minutes, before she finally had a tray of food in her hand! As
she went back up to get some ketchup, I unwrapped my burger and found it
wasn't what I ordered. (What a surprise!) So, having rested
long enough, I hobbled on up to the counter, plopped it down and announced
that it was supposed to be a #2. The manager threw it in the trash,
shouted out the order for a #2 and rushed over to straighten out someone
I waited there with the appropriate scowl on my face, so they'd hurry, and
mom came up beside me to see why I was at the counter instead of sitting
in the booth. I told her I got the wrong burger and that I was up
there to get the right one. She said I should sit down and she'd
wait for it, but I told her it was my turn, and I'd get it myself.
She was just trying to help get me off my feet, but fast food places that
can't get a simple order right are one of my pet peeves, so I waited,
ready to pick a fight! (Can you believe this from Mr. Happy?!)
Instead of a fight, I got my burger, more fries (on the house) and was on
my way back to my seat a minute later. While we ate, mom gave me the
details of what had been going on while she was up there waiting for the
food, and we talked about fast food places and how they suck at getting
simple orders right. All in all, our BK experience took nearly an
hour. So much for "fast" food!
Found this little news item on the internet:
The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger
King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 12:50 A.M., flashed a gun and demanded
cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash
register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk
said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked
Hmmm... I wonder if it's the same
We got to the cancer center for the blood draw just after 4:00.
That's when I found out that the office that does the blood draws closes
at 4:00, meaning I was too late. I blamed BK, and the lady there
told me that I could go over to the Reichert
building to get my blood drawn instead, because that location doesn't
close. It's there in the hospital complex, so we drove around to
that particular building and I walked in while mom waited in the car.
Blood draws don't take long, so she figured I'd be right back out.
This place wasn't like the cancer center at all. It was big and very
impersonal. There were several windows with women behind them that
process paperwork, a large waiting area with lots of chairs and a TV
playing something totally uninteresting up in the corner of the room.
A couple of dozen people were waiting their turn and there was a lot of
activity going on. They took my red and orange cards, and I had a
About 15 minutes later, someone came out from behind the scenes and called
my name. I followed her back to a little booth, offered my arm, and
she finished the blood draw in short order. She then handed me back
my red card, which now had a bright, florescent green dot-shaped sticker
on it with a number. I told her I needed the orange card back as
well, and she asked, "What orange card?" "The one I
handed the lady at the counter along with this red one." I said,
holding up the red card.
She looked confused, and I explained about the orange card that tells what
particular blood tests need to be conducted per the doctor (In my case, a
PT test to assess the Coumadin levels) and how I came to have it in the
first place, how I use it at the cancer center, why I was getting my blood
drawn with her that day instead (BK's fault!), and how I would need the
orange card for the next time I get my blood drawn at the cancer center.
She looked even more confused, and headed off to find a supervisor.
I followed, and was soon explaining the whole story once again, this time
to the supervisor.
The supervisor was a short, thin, pinch-faced woman with a snooty attitude
who obviously didn't want to spend too much of her busy time giving me the
brush-off. Her glasses were too big and fancy for her face and her
hair was like that of a disco queen. It looked like she was working
way too hard to appear 27, instead of the 45 that she actually was.
She told me, matter-of-factly (like it was none of my business), that they
were discontinuing the orange cards hospital-wide, were taking them away
from everyone as they get presented, and that the green dot on my red card
had replaced the information of the orange card.
Suppressing the urge to choke her, I instead forced a smile and thanked
her for the explanation. I had a feeling in my gut that something
wasn't quite right, and that I should insist on pursuing it somehow, but I
wasn't sure which direction to go with it. So I limped back out to
the car and we headed home.
The next morning, Wednesday, 2-6-02, I got a phone call from the doctor's
office, asking what it says on my orange card. (I must be
psychic...) "They took my orange card", I said.
"WHO took your orange card?!" she wanted to know. I
explained what happened the day before, and how I didn't have an orange
card anymore, but had a green dot instead. I blamed BK again.
She said that they hadn't drawn for the PT test (the whole point of the
blood draw), so I'd have to get another one. I told her I had to get
Scan on Friday, and asked if that would
be soon enough, or did I have to go get the blood draw right away.
She said she'd ask the doctor, came back and said Friday would be fine.
She told me to make sure they specifically draw for the PT test, since I
don't have an orange card anymore, and I assured her I would.
The next couple of days were pretty much uneventful, other than a phone
call from the CAT
Scan office on Thursday to remind me
about my appointment with them for the scan on Friday at 1:50 and to tell
me I had to be there at 11:30 and that I was to have nothing to eat or
drink after 9:50 AM that day. I wrote it all down so I wouldn't
forget, and that was that.
On Friday morning, 2-8-02, I woke early and chugged coffee as usual while
reading and responding to emails, and reading the latest posts on the
forums I frequent. I decided to wait till about 9:30 to have
something to eat, in order to prolong my appetite for the day, so I
wouldn't be hungry again till after the CAT
Mom called to remind me about all the same things the CAT
Scan office had reminded me of the day before, and I assured her that
I was on top of the whole thing and would see her later for the trip to
At about 9:30, I had a huge, whopping bowl of leftover macaroni and
cheese, one last cup of coffee, and then started my fast. Mom showed
up a little while later and we hit the road, headed for the hospital.
She dropped me at the front door, I limped on in and up to the information
desk, and asked the lady there which way to the CAT Scans. She gave
me the directions, and I hobbled off to find it. Mom was parking the
car in the lot, and I turned back to the information desk lady and told
her my mom would be in soon looking for where to find me, so just give her
the same directions. She smiled and said, "No problem" and
I continued on my quest.
I made a left, then a right, followed the signs down a long corridor, made
another left, followed another long corridor, and finally found the CAT
Scans office. The doggone place was somewhere on the opposite
side of the hospital from the front door I'd walked in through, by my
reckoning. It was a long walk, and my leg was aching pretty bad by
the time I got there.
I presented my paperwork to the lady working the admissions counter and
she asked about any allergies I might have. I reported my usual,
"None that I know of" and she asked if I wanted my CAT Scan
(radioactive - I'd read up on it) solution mixed with water or Kool-Aid.
I chose the Kool-Aid, and she handed me a standard medical questionnaire
on a clip board to fill out. I took it, had a seat and started
filling in the blanks and checking things off. Mom showed up a few
minutes later, looking exhausted from the walk, and exclaimed, "Geezzz!
Ya think that was a long enough walk?!" I agreed entirely and
she had a seat next to me.
A little while later, I was called up to the counter to get my cup of
radioactive Kool-Aid, with instructions to have it downed within 20
minutes. It was about half a quart, by my estimation, and the cup
had my name and three times written on it, the first being the current
time, the others spaced out at 20 minutes each. It tasted mostly
like Kool-Aid (red), but had a peculiar after-taste that's hard to
describe. It wasn't too bad though, and I didn't have any difficulty
or aversion to drinking it down. Then I returned the cup to the lady
at the counter as instructed.
20 minutes later, I repeated the process, and noticed that the first time
had been crossed out on the cup. 20 minutes after that I got a final
cup to drink with the same instructions and the 2nd time crossed out, but
this time the stuff looked like milk. It didn't taste bad and I
downed it as well. As I moved, I could hear it sloshing around in my
belly, and told mom to have a listen. I moved back and forth in my
chair to slosh it, and we both laughed when she said she could hear it
Another 20 minutes or so went by and my name was finally called to go in
to get the actual scan done. I followed the technician through the
waiting room door and into the business area of the unit, and she asked if
I wanted to use the restroom first. After drinking all that stuff
they gave me over the last hour and a half, I was glad to hear I was
allowed to relieve myself, and did so. Afterwards, I walked into the
room with the CAT Scan machine and took in the surroundings.
Walking in the door, I saw to my right the machine itself, to my left a
table or counter (can't recall now if it had legs or not) along one wall
with paperwork and stuff on it, and most of the back wall was a
large-windowed isolation booth full of controls for the technicians.
The rest of the room had a few pieces of hospital paraphernalia here and
there, and that was about it. Everything about the room was all very
ultra-clean looking and well lit.
The machine itself looked like a big (almost to the ceiling), square,
white doughnut with a hole in the middle. Lined up with the hole,
ready for insertion, was a thin table-like thing, kind of like a gurney,
but it was obviously part of the machine, with mechanical devices
supporting it that would allow the technician to remote control it's
movement in an X, Y, Z axis. It was covered with a sheet and had one
of those thin hospital pillows near the end away from the machine.
Beyond the pillow, above where my head would be, were two Styrofoam
She asked if I had any metal on me and I told her no (I was simply wearing
joggers, slippers and a shirt, as usual, so I didn't even have a zipper).
She asked about any allergies, and I reported my usual, "None that I
know of." Then she had me lie down on the gurney and installed
an IV in my left arm. She then had me position my arms above my
head, and I found out what the Styrofoam blocks were for: to more
comfortably rest my hands on. As I stared at the ceiling, I noticed
they'd removed one of the floodlights from the ceiling that would
otherwise have been directly in my eyes, and thought that was pretty nice
At that point, another technician came into the room and they had a short
conversation that involved her needing to go deal with something else.
She gave him a short update on me, introduced us, and he took over.
He went to the booth and the gurney elevated up to the height of the
doughnut hole. Then it moved towards it, inserting me in, feet
first, till I was in up to about my chest. The gurney then made
short movements in different directions and slid in and out a few times
until he was satisfied that I was positioned correctly within the
His voice came over a loudspeaker somewhere in the room (and it was pretty
loud!) instructing me to, "Take. A. Breath. And. Hold. It."
I could tell it was his voice, but the way he said it sounded like a
mechanical recording, and I thought it was pretty funny. I did as
instructed, and the gurney moved while the machine scanned me from just
above the knee to about my chest. "Breath." he said, so I
did. He reset me where I started, and we did the whole thing again.
Then the gurney pulled back out to about where it was when we started out,
but didn't drop down in elevation.
The fist technician appeared next to me again, inserted a syringe into the
port on the IV and told me that what she was injecting might make me feel
warm, but I should let her know right away if it felt like it was burning
me. "Okey dokey...", I replied. "Feeling
OK?" she asked. "No problem", I reported.
"Still OK? No burning? How 'bout where the IV is, in your
arm?", she queried. "Nope, nothing burning" I said.
"OK, good", she said as she finished up with the injection and
pulled the syringe back out, discarding it.
"This next one will require you to hold your breath longer", she
said. "If you can't hold your breath that long, it will be ok,
just let it out slowly. OK?" "No problem", I
replied, and readied myself. As the gurney reinserted me into the
machine, I felt parts of my body getting warm. Most noticeably, my
groin, but also parts of my chest, abdomen and throat. Nothing
intense - not burning - just suddenly warmer than usual.
The loudspeaker fired up again with technician #2's mechanical voice, "Take. A.
Breath. And. Hold. It." (short interval)
"Breath." (short interval) "Take. A. Breath.
And. Hold. It." (short interval) "Breath."
(short interval) "Take. A. Breath. And. Hold. It."
He'd had me hyperventilate a bit so I'd be able to hold my breath longer,
and this time the machine moved slower. I was starting to think I
may have to let it out, when I finally got the instruction,
"Breath." The gurney repositioned back to the original
starting point, including the elevation closer to the floor.
Technician #2 showed up at my side, removed the IV and he explained that
the experience would probably leave me somewhat dehydrated, so I should
drink plenty of fluids. I found out why several hours later: All that
radioactive Kool-Aid I drank gave me a case of diarrhea that
lasted a couple of days! The whole time, my stomach and intestines
churned and gurgled and made strange noises, as I went back and forth to
the bathroom and fought to resist the urge to fart at all costs!
Anyway, at THAT time, I was feeling fine, and walked on out to the waiting
room, gathered my things and headed for the door. Mom stopped me and
said she wasn't interested in taking that long walk all the way back
through the hospital and then out to the parking lot.
There was another entrance near where we were and she asked the lady
working the CAT Scan admissions desk to call for a shuttle to come to that
door to pick us up and take us to our car, which was in a lot on the other
side of the hospital from where we were. While she was doing that, I
walked on down to the entrance and had a seat to wait for the shuttle.
Mom joined me a couple minutes later, and the shuttle arrived soon after.
A couple minutes later we were in the car and headed for the McAuley
Cancer Care Center to get my blood draw.
Mom dropped me at the front door and I walked on in. I presented my
red card with it's new, affixed, round, bright, fluorescent green, sticker
to the young lady that wanted to go skiing last time I saw her. I
explained about the orange card, blaming BK again of course, and said I needed to make sure that I was
going to get a PT test, per the doctor. She told me that it's not
part of the information she works with at that desk, and to let the folks
that actually draw the blood know. She handed me the paperwork for
them, as usual, and I moved on to where they actually draw the blood,
dropping the paperwork at the counter like always.
There were no other patients there, so I didn't have to wait at all.
The nurse had me take a seat in the blood draw chair, which has a little
arm-size table-like apparatus attached to it for setting your arm on, so
it will be positioned in a way that makes it easy on both nurse and
patient. I told her the doctor wanted me to make sure that I get a
PT test, etc., etc., etc., and blamed BK one last time. She looked it all up on the computer to
confirm it, and said it was all set. She filled a couple of test
tubes full of Buck-juice and I was on my way.
The next morning, Saturday, 2-9-02, the doctor's office called me with the
results from the blood draw: