The last time I talked about my port it wasn’t a good talk. No trigger warnings this time. Nothing too scary. Just a visit to the emergency room on a Tuesday night.

9/20/2022: I’m in the ER because I’m coughing so hard that I threw up twice. Puke is very unusual for me. I realized I was in bad shape when I wanted a nurse to check my blood pressure, monitor my baby, and watch me all night. At this point I also couldn’t lift myself off the floor. So Nick called an ambulance ride for me.

My hemoglobin has been steadily dropping since chemo started August first. It hit a low on the 20th and I’ve had this cold for days and days, which flared up into a coughing fit that made me throw up, which got me all anxious and worked up, which led me to seek medical attention.

The hospital made sure I didn’t have a blood clot in my chest with a CT scan because I was so short of breath. It turns out though, that just regular asthma, a cold, plus a chemo-induced absent immune system and useless blood will mimic the physical symptoms of an embolism! So I got two transfusions of donated blood to give me hemoglobin immediately. This treatment is not a cure (I’ll always have asthma and colds, and cancer treatment will wreak more havoc), but it gave us several pieces of valuable information.

We’ve learned what the absolute lowest measure of hemoglobin I can tolerate without collapsing. I know now that if my hemoglobin falls below 8.0, then I need to speak up and get my treatment team to help boost that. The CT gave us a valuable image of my tumor. We aren’t halfway through the course of treatment, but we are in between treatment regimens. We have a detailed candid measure of my progress so far. Lastly, the transfusion was a great success. It gave me a respite from feeling quite so run down, and the opportunity to kick this cold. I can breathe and talk simultaneously now, also I can walk to the bathroom on my own without panting! Days later, and I’m finally feeling my body make use of the cold treatments I’ve been using.

Thank you, thank you to my team of caregivers. Nick, my anchor, is at the top. Dad and mom, Bekki and her mom Renee, my mother and father in law. The first responders: EMTs, Tonawanda Police, Twin City Ambulance. The ER department at Millard Fillmore Suburban, doctors and especially nurses Monty, Levi, and Bonnie. I am grateful to have so many wonderful people in my incredible village.

Monty was the ER charge nurse, he made me laugh. I was placed right near the central nurse station entrance, and I enjoyed overhearing him mildly lament that someone ate the rest of his Swedish Fish, and grumble that tonight was not going to be fun. And I was glad for him when he was able to admit or discharge patients and rotate his new patients into rooms. Monty would pass me and tap my knee and ask of I needed anything. I only replied “breathing treatment” in a whisper to him.

I spoke with a family friend, Renee, who works at Kaleida as a respiratory therapist. She tried her damnedest to hurry the ER and I think it worked. I got a room ahead of many other patients. I was grateful for the urgency, but sorry that the elderly woman with a broken pelvis had to wait. Others had to wait ten more hours after me. The ER was very busy.

Levi was my overnight nurse. This is when I realized the real value of a medi-port. Levi was great to work with, and very familiar with ports. He usually accesses ports on pediatric patients. I joked: my goal is to be less squirmy than his usual patients. Levi just shook his head and exhaled a laugh. How awful to work on sick children.

I’m grateful that I had a port because they needed several blood samples, and it was easy. So simple. A process that normally would have left me light-headed, sweaty, and an anxious mess several times over was as simple as closing my eyes and letting the professional twist on a tube. If you know, you know. If you don’t, well I hope you don’t ever have to know, but also, its pain-absent. Using my port to access blood samples is the opposite of pain. Its convenient and rapid and reliable and super low risk for infection. My veins hate being poked at the best of times. This was not the best of times, and the thought of fussing with my vein at this time is arduous. So the port showed it value.

That is not to say that I would agree go through what I went through the first time I got it placed ever again. No one will change its placement or remove it without me being sedated. I will have no further awake-surgeries.

Dad spent the night with me once I was placed in an ER room. The trooper sat upright all night slurping on Tim Hortons iced capps. Nothing like chilling with my dad at the hospital. There was a moment when I finally received my breathing treatment with a goofy little oxygen mask, and the nurse needed my temperature. They stuck the thermometer probe through the little breathing hole under my tongue and I had the most vivid flashback to being a child in the hospital receiving snacks by the very same means. That was when I had bronchitis in first grade, if I remember correctly.

Nick’s incredible parents looked after George while Nick and I was absent. Grandma got George to sleep moments after the ambulance took off. And grandpa spent a wonderful day walking George to parks and playing on playgrounds.

Bonnie was my last nurse. She was a powerful nurse. She was confident and calm and patient and kind and timely and so cool under pressure. I could never be like Bonnie, but I count myself lucky for having her. There was a blood draw that needed to be taken from another vein, I wished her very good luck, explained that my veins like to disappear and I get faint. She immediately dismissed my arms, and picked a itty bitty little vein on the back of my right hand, gave it one poke, and wrapped up before I even started breathing weird. Bonnie is an ER master.

So that ER visit concluded my AC treatment. Very dramatic. If you’re on the tiktok app, you’ve heard the sound: “is it me? Am I the drama?” Yes. Yes, the drama is me. So I make myself cringe a bit, but hey. My body got what it needed, and I’m in a much better place to continue my chemotherapy journey on Monday.

One response to “ER”

  1. See you later, Take care, Learn lots, Good Night, LOVE YOU!


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