Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: VA Hospital

11-12Oct 18: Missed a Day

Didn’t mean to miss posting about Thursday, but I had and exhaustion day Friday, and I usually write and post my updates the day after the day they’re about.

Honestly, I didn’t get much done Thursday. I did do my languages, and I went to MTG with my friends from the Shepherd family and Greg. I also took a 2+ hour nap, which is what threw me off for the night, especially since the nap happened after 17:00.

Friday was mostly a bust. After getting up to the VA to pick up some meds I’d forgotten to put in an online order for, I kind of zoned the rest of the day. Tried napping around noon without success, and hit the sack shortly after full darkness fell—by 19:30.

Not my best day by a long shot. LOL

5Oct18: Long Day at the VA

Visual Field Test Machine

Lights flash in here to see how good my field of vision is.

I spent Friday up at the VA because I had two appointments up there, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The day up there started fairly early, because I got a ride from a friend who was kind enough to drive me ’cause I wasn’t sure just how transit was running.

After breakfast up there, I went to my therapy appt, the first one I had yesterday. This went pretty well. Over the course of it, I mentioned having an optometry appointment, and my therapist checked on her computer and told me it had been canceled by patient the day before. Though I tried calling, nobody answered, so I said I’d run up there as soon as I got out of my therapy appointment.

Which was what I did. Turns out, the original appointment was still available, so I reclaimed that slot and went to have lunch. Also got my flu shot. Got up to my optometry appointment about an hour early, but they got me in early too. I had to take a visual field test and have an exam to determine how I’m doing on my eye drops for the glaucoma. The pic at the top of this post is a view into the machine that does the vision field test.

Got my languages done while waiting for the train to take me home.

Came home, laid down for a while to recharge, then went out to a club with some friends. This was the first time I’ve done this in a long time, and my experiences before left much to be desired, so I was a bit nervous. When Lynn, Dan, and I arrived at the Sun Trapp, two other friends of mine greeted us from a nearby table. Unfortunately, Dan’s ID was expired by about a month, and there are hefty fines for bars that let people in with an expired ID, so Lynn had to drive him home. Since Garth and Louis were there, I went over and hung out with them while Lynn did that. It didn’t take Lynn very long, and shortly after he returned, Kit joined us. We had a good time, and I’m glad I went. It was worth all the anxiety I suffered.

22-24Aug18: Catch-Up

I had a busy day Wednesday (22nd). I had to go to the VA for an appointment and other things. Also had gaming to do. Didn’t do MTG, ’cause I got out of the VA too late to do it, but I did do Pathfinder.

Thursday was an exhaustion day. Put myself to bed but couldn’t sleep. Was productive, though I can’t remember everything I did. Worked on D&D stuff. Also did the day’s D&D session, introducing Daz’s character. Came home, read incomplete wips, then went to bed.

Did nothing on Friday. Got up, ate breakfast, took nap, had some more food, went to bed. Was still tired from Thursday, I guess.

Here’s Weds and Thurs

Rolegaming Dice!

Chessex Sea Dice from Oasis Games.

I completely zoned writing Wednesday’s post before going to bed, and Thursday I was just too tired to care.

Not sure what time I got up on Wednesday, though I had plenty of time to prepare for my Wednesday afternoon and evening gaming sessions. Did I do this? Noooot completely. I was all prepared for MTG, so there’s that. JJ, Cayden, Greg, and Daz came to play as well, though JJ only observed, I think because they had something they wanted to go to at the pride center before our gaming session ended, because he left early. The rest of us finished the session, then Greg departed and Daz, Cayden, and I started setting up for Pathfinder with Phil, who’d arrived before we quite finished our last MTG game.

We set up to play Pathfinder, and I realized I’d forgotten my dice for role gaming. I mean all my sets of dice, so I had to go get another set from the store. Just as we got settled in the room, one of the store’s managers came to chat with us. Apparently, Wednesday night is their Adventurers League. Also, the other room had been rented already, and the store was hosting I think a Pokémon event in the tourney area. The store was also otherwise busy, but the manager said he’d do whatever he could to ensure we could game that night. Nicholas went out of his way to get us tables and chairs and a power strip for us to plug our electronics in—because Daz uses his computer for the books—and arranged them near the cafe. This took all of about 10 minutes, and we settled in to game. Afterward, Daz and I found Nicholas and thanked him again for going out of his way to ensure we could play our game. He told us that he was brought to Oasis Games specifically to ensure their customers were treated well, and that he was happy he was able to find a solution that allowed us to game and have a good time.

Back at home, Daz and I hung out for a few hours before he went home to bed.

On Thursday, I got up with just enough time to feed and water Hendrix and scoop out his litter; and to take my prebreakfast meds. I even left half an hour later than I usually do because I just couldn’t pull myself out of bed on time. Even with that, I got to the VA with time to spare and had an hour wait for my appointment, which I didn’t mind much (the sitcom they had playing on their TV now, is another matter – LOL). Saw the podiatrist, though, and she gave me some advice on diabetic foot care, prescribed some special creams/lotions for my feet, and ensured I had plenty of their special between-toe pads to carry me through the next I don’t know how long. The doc said I could get rid of the crutches the last week of this month, but that I’ll probably need to keep buddy taping my toes for up to a year to prevent swelling.

Came home and laid down for a while, but didn’t actually nap. Got up to putter around the apartment doing idling nonsense. Stuff that I’d have done anyway at some point, but which wasn’t imperative I do right then when I had other things that needed doing and wanted to get done but had no interest in doing.

Oddly, at around 18:00, I started to feel a bit more energetic. Wanted to make dice pouches for two sets of my dice, so I excavated my fabric bits and ribbons . . . then realized Daz still had my sewing kit. So, instead, I made a search for my crochet threads. Four times at least. Could not find them and considered what I may have done with them to remember that I put them all downstairs. I know better than to do stuff like that! LOL As a result, I idled for the next few hours doing nothing in particular.

Daz came over after his Thursday night game and brought my sewing kit back. He’d also picked up a couple packets of penny sleeves for me. While chatting, we sleeved my cards with my graphic sleeves in the penny sleeves, and played Uno. He introduced me to a couple acts that appeared on America’s Got Talent, and we munched Doritos. A good night overall. Finally called it quits a little after 04:00.

Sorry for the Silence

Broken Toe!

Toes, buddy-taped.

After all the worry over JJ, I was a bit emotionally worn out, so that’s why I didn’t post Friday. But I have good news! JJ’s doing fine. He was just in the hospital, and they don’t give out patient info without a code that I didn’t have. He contacted me Friday to say he was out, and apologized for standing me up over the Aviary visit. I assured him I didn’t care about that as much as I cared about his health and safety. At his suggestion, we’ve rescheduled for this Thursday, but I may have to cancel depending on what Podiatry says about my foot.

But before that, an update on Saturday.

I awoke Saturday morning with an absolutely incredible sinus headache. It felt like a horse had stepped on my head and was so bad that being vertical made it hurt more. I did only what I absolutely had to do, including taking some DayQuil, and returned to bed. Then, around 10:00, I contacted my friends to cancel gaming since the headache hadn’t really abated any. After another hour, I was bored out of my mind and got up anyway, but I wasn’t really functional. After another dose of DayQuil, though, things got better. I managed to write a bit. Still, I was in bed by 21:00 Saturday night.

So now, the reason why I’m waiting to see what Podiatry says about my foot (this is pretty much a paste from what I typed over at MeWe for my friends, cause I’m tired of retelling this story to everyone who asks):

On my way to Oasis Games to play D&D with Kit and some other friends today, my right foot slipped on some water coming out of the planters in front of Café d’Bolla, which is on the ground level of the Stoneground building. My left toe caught me, and I didn’t end up having a worse fall (which would have been on at least 1 knee, if that had happened). Instead of going in to the hospital right away, I thought, “Oh, it’s just a slight sprain and will be fine if I ice it.”

So I got to Oasis and grabbed a bag of ice that the barista there was more than happy to give me and went to the room where we usually game with Lynn. While I waited for everyone to arrive, I iced my toe. It didn’t hurt too much while I was seated, so I didn’t think anything of it. Well, over the course of the afternoon, my toe developed that purple bruise across the top. Walking on it was painful, but not excruciating (me forgetting that I have a high pain tolerance most of the time).

Like I usually do after gaming Sundays, I waited with my friend Kit for his ride to come get him. While we waited Kit suggested that I go in to the hospital to have my toe looked at. Regarding that bruise and the pain I was in while afoot, and the fact that I couldn’t move the toe, I decided to listen and asked if his father would be willing to drive me up to the VA. Kit sent a text to his father, who didn’t respond to it. When his father arrived, Kit promised to make his father take me and went to go hop in the car, then they came around to pick me up.

Klaus drove me to the VA hospital, and I had him drop me off at the front door and hobbled into the ER. Immediately after checking in, a guy who was short of breath arrived, and he was seen first, but I didn’t much mind. I’d gotten a seat in one of the funky wheelchairs they have all over the VA, and was content to wait since I was the only other patient in the ER at the time.
Shortly after getting the short-of-breath man into the ER, the nurse, Uta (German name I’m not sure on spelling; sounds like “Yoo-tah”) took my vitals and wheeled me right up to Radiology, where a tech named Demarcus (sp may be wrong) took me in for x-rays. About five mins later, I was on my way back to the ER with Uta.

She took me to what was apparently the only room that was in any way neat, put ice on my toe, and went to fetch the doc. He looked at it, and explained that there was a crack right beneath the bruise, then told me to keep it iced. He also told me my sandal was perfect for wearing, because all that he’d do was give me a similar type of medical shoe, and told me he’d prescribe a painkiller and have the nurse buddy-tape my toe. Uta returned after he left, buddy-taped my toe, and got me a pair of crutches along with everything I’d need to do the tape job myself.

Uta pushed me in the wheelchair to the pharmacy and I showed the tech there my VA ID card, then while I waited, I adjusted the grips on my new crutches. There were a young woman and her brother there, and I asked them kindly to please take the wheelchair I’d come in back to the front of the hospital since there was no way I’d be able to manage it with 2 crutches, and she agreed. They left with the chair, and I got my -codone med, and hobbled back out to the hospital’s entry and called a cab.

The Cab drove me home, and that’s the story. Doc said he’d have Podiatry call me for an appt later this week, and I watched Uta’s procedure with my toes to make sure I could tape ’em up again later. But that’s it!

Catching Up Here

Diane Sawyer Block

Diane Sawyer Block

I didn’t post Thursday ’cause it was a busy day for me and I hit Nope and went to bed without thinking about Thursday’s post. Friday was much the same about the Nope, only earlier and much stronger.

Thursday was a busy day. I had to rise early, around 06:00 or so (usual wakeup time is around 10:00) to get to my primary care appointment. I was originally scheduled for 10:30 that morning, but got a call asking me to come in around 09:30 because my doc had had a couple of cancellations. I agreed to that, so got up at around 05:30 or 06:00 Thursday and hightailed it out of my apartment without breakfast to make the appointment. Grabbed something to eat when I got to the VA, then checked in to my adjusted-time appointment about 50 mins early. Just sat down when my doc’s nurse, Deb, came out to invite me into the clinic area. She took my vitals and left me in a room by myself after telling me that Dr. Milne had 3 interns working with her today and she wasn’t sure what the procedure was going to be.

About 5 mins after I settled in the room, an intern came in and introduced himself as Scott. I don’t think he gave his last name. He spent about 45 or so mins taking me through everything from my medications, to medical history, to giving me an exam so complete that he even looked in my nostrils, which nobody else had ever done before. After that, he went to go pass on all he’d learned to Dr. Milne, and she came back with him and had him give his report in front of me. She checked my lungs and heart again, did a check of the moles on my back, then had Scott do diabetic sensory test for neuropathy on my feet since I’m diabetic. Since my last exam, I’ve lost 5lbs, which she was happy to see, and my A1C levels were good, which I was really happy about. Dr. Milne wants me to walk most days of the week (4) but seemed pretty pleased that I’ve been walking more often than I used to. She told me she wanted to see me in 6 months, and then sent me out to check out.

I then went to building 550 on the VA campus as I’d arranged with Katie, and she came to pick me up as planned. We went to her place to do some quilting, and I mentioned the Block Of The Month Quilt she’d suggested I start as a sort of break from my Kaleidoscope Quilt I’ve been working on, and we did that. This is a quilt she did last year, and we started on Marc’s block because Katie wanted to do her March blocks for it. She taught me how to cut fabric to size, then I stitched the pieces together while she worked on the blocks she wanted to redo, cutting the fabrics for those. Katie got the quilt pattern from a quilt store and they named it the You Go Girl Quilt and the block I did was named after Diane Sawyer. I did that one block and she suggested doing more, but groceries were on my mind, so we packed up the quilting stuff and headed out.

Before we went to Smith’s, Katie took me out to eat since she was hungry. After that, a quick run through the grocery store for my food, and Katie brought me home. I think I may have written a scene on a wip as well. I also did some D&D prep work.

———

On Friday, the only thing I really did was go to gaming with Kit’s group. His mother joined us, and we all had great fun. I came home, laid down 3 or 4 times, and gave in and went to bed around 19:30.

Visit with the Substitute Oncologist

This entry is part 43 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Well, I think I described the scheduling issues that happened before I finally got last Friday’s Oncology appointment scheduled. All this is because my regular Oncologist, Dr. Colonna, is out on maternity leave.

This past Friday, I arrived early like usual and got checked in and my vitals done like usual. They didn’t need blood taken or anything, so I didn’t need to visit the lab.

I was drowsy because I hadn’t slept well the night before, due to worrying about being up in time for the appointment, because it was at 11:00AM, a time I don’t usually go in for appointments. I’d gotten myself a caffeinated beverage at the coffee shop near the elevators I took to the floor where Oncology is, and I drank that while I waited, dozing between swallows. It helped; I was more alert and felt refreshed when I was finally visited.

That visitor was a Physician’s Assistant who works with the Oncology docs, Nancy Fong. The designation after her name is PA-C, and I’m left to assume the C stands for cancer given she’s working in the Oncology department. I’ll try to remember to ask her what it stands for if I see her again. Anyway, she did a breast exam and we discussed my vitamin regimen; I’d been taking 1 Calcium and 1 D3 vitamin a day with my meds and the Senior vitamins I started taking this month, but she wanted me to up the Calcium and D3 t0 2 pills a day, which I’m happy to obey. I don’t want my bones to deteriorate either.

After she finished with me, she left to go fetch the substitute Oncologist I was to see, Dr. Charles Parker. I was not expecting the doctor who came in. Not because he had an unusual appearance; he was tall, slender, wore glasses, and white-haired, so pretty normal that way. No, he couldn’t seem to say a single sentence without two or three umm pauses. Between that and his soft voice, I had difficulty following what he was saying.

Essentially, however, I no longer need the Leuprolide injection since I’ve had my ovaries and tubes removed. I’m still on the Anastrozole because there are some other organs which create a teeny-tiny amount of female hormones, and there’s concern my fat might also produce some. The Anastrozole is to prevent it creating another cancer.

He couldn’t speak on the possibility of having my breasts removed because he’s not my primary Oncologist, so I didn’t bother asking about that. It’s something I think Nancy may have known about, but I didn’t want to confuse Dr. Parker.

After Dr. Parker’s visit, I spoke briefly with Nancy again. She filled out a form that tells me when my next appointment is due (September) and wrote notes regarding the additional vitamins I’m to take and continuation of Anastrozole. They’re also going to arrange for me to get my next mammogram at about that time as well—and I asked about that, since I wasn’t sure if my primary care doc would have to put the order in, but Nancy explained it would be the Oncology department.

Salpingo-Oophorectomy

This entry is part 42 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

That. That title right there is the official name of the type of surgery I had last Tuesday. I had a double-case of it—both my fallopian tubes and ovaries were removed. I’d like to say I have exceedingly clear memories of events leading up to the surgery and following, but the truth is, I don’t.

I do recall arriving at the hospital at about 6:45 AM for my 7 o’clock surgery prep time, and was taken back to my little prep “room” early. Here, I do recall some things. Mom was with me, for one; they allowed her to come back with me. The little prep “rooms” are rooms only in name. In the ward, they line up against an outer wall of the hospital, so they all have windows. I’m not sure what the view is, but Mom noticed a tall building and made a jokey comment about people spying people undressing for surgical prep, and I told her all the hospital’s windows are reflective on the outside; she didn’t close the blinds, so I guess she believed me.

I got dressed in the hospital gown and the funky socks with grip treads on top and bottom they provide for keeping feet warm. I don’t know about anyone else who goes into surgery at the VA, but I’m always very glad for those socks, ’cause my feet get cold easily. Nurses hooked me up to an IV, checked my vitals, went over my allergies (none). I was starving by this time, but I couldn’t eat because they didn’t want me choking in case stuff came up, and the last time I’d had anything to drink was a small sip of water around 5:30 or so, to take the morning meds that had been approved by Dr. Rose. I should mention here that I hadn’t been taking my multivitamin for about a week because it has a high dose of Vitamin E and that’s a blood thinner, but I did take my Calcium and D3 as well as my morning antacid, bladder pill, and levothyroxine. I didn’t take my morning Ziprasidone because I need to take it with food, or it won’t work like it should; it’s a booster dose, anyway, so missing it one morning wasn’t so bad.

After they finished prepping me for surgery, they wheeled me into the surgical room. I didn’t get much chance to notice things, so I don’t want to say too much about it. I wiggled onto the surgical bed and was out before they even got the things they put on my lower legs to keep circulation going on me. They were not messing around.

I came to in recovery a few hours later. My lower abdomen hurt, an internal kind of pain that felt like an incredible stitch in my side that would not go away. Once they saw I was awake, they discussed with me the possibility of sending me home, and I explained (again) that Mom couldn’t stay with me because she had to go home to her dog, and I couldn’t stay at her place because she has nowhere to put me. No way in hell was I going to try to wrangle myself into and out of a low bed consisting primarily of an inflatable double-high mattress. They said they’d have to keep me overnight, to monitor my condition because of my CPAP machine, and asked if I’d brought it, and I explained Mom had it. Then they had to see if they could find me a room to stay the night in, and I suspect they were extremely relieved when they could.

They wheeled me down a hall, and we picked Mom up on the way. She explained to the nurses about everything again, because they asked her as well, and they got me into the room I would spend the night in. Mom half-folded her little aluminum-and-fabric grocery cart, taking my CPAP (in its carry case) out to set in the bottom front of the narrow locker where the nurses told her to put it, then hung out a bit to make sure I was comfortable. When lunch came, Mom took her leave so I could concentrate on eating and resting.

Now, getting up and laying down were challenges, but I had to shuffle my butt to the little bathroom (not shared with any other rooms, yay!) to try to void my bladder, which was another thing they were monitoring, to make sure the anesthesia didn’t have any severe side effects. Getting up (still) includes rolling onto one side or the other so I can dangle my legs over the edge of the bed. Then I push myself up with my arm, until I’m seated upright. Next is actually rising and that was actually about the most pleasant part of the entire experience, even though I felt (and still feel) a bit of a burn in the right side of my abdomen. Laying down, I sit within two feet of my pillow and tip to the side where the pillow is while swinging my legs onto the bed. All this effort really does help avoid a lot more pain.

Dr. Rose came in to see me after I’d eaten lunch and checked up on me, then explained she’d be in the next day to discharge me. After that, I was left mostly to myself. On a number of different excursions to the little bathroom, I fetched first my mp3 player, then books and the sandwich I’d brought out of the closet. At bedtime, I got my CPAP out, but couldn’t find the Smart Water bottle I’d filled with distilled water. I ate supper, and the nurses brought me snacks to have with my medications.

One thing I’ll say here: Dr. Rose listened. I explained that I likely wouldn’t take any narcotics prescribed, and she asked what I would take, then prescribed me ibuprofen from that list.

They had someone from Pulmonary come up to set up my CPAP, and he brought sterile water for my machine, which was good. I’ve still got the bottle of sterile water; they let me bring the remainder home. I actually slept better than I thought I would. I was the only one in the room, and I shut off the other side’s light, but left mine on (but turned up to face the ceiling), and a nurse apparently came in at some point because when I woke up at 5:00AM the next day, my bed’s light was off, and the one for the vacant space on the other side of the room was on. I had breakfast (it had been so long since I last had bacon, it actually tasted good), then while I waited for Mom to arrive, I put my CPAP back in its case and took everything I pulled from the little closet (I’d eaten the sandwich sometime around midnight because I woke up with an empty stomach—I can’t get to sleep deeply if I don’t have something in my tummy) into Mom’s folding cart (it’s very lightweight).

The nurses were pretty pleased I was moving around so much. Dr. Rose came to discharge me, then Mom arrived and I got dressed. Apparently, Dr. Rose doesn’t do a lot of discharges, because there was some difficulty with the paperwork, but the nurses let us go with the promise they’d get her to finish it up; they said they had her verbal go-ahead for me to depart, so I was free to go. I suspect Mom would have tried to march me right out of the hospital whether or not I had permission to leave, though. LOL

Now, as for my wounds. I have three small incisions. One on each side, on the lower curve of my belly (I’m rather fat), and one in my belly button. The wounds themselves don’t hurt that much (unless I lean against the edge of my kitchen counter too hard on my belly-button one), but what really hurts me is the right interior. Dr. Rose said she had no complications from the surgery, so I doubt the pain comes from any difficulties she had removing my right ovary and fallopian tube; it just hurts more because it just does. It’s a kind of burning sensation, and if I”m not careful, it’ll flare up. It doesn’t like me using the toilet, or getting into bed, or out of bed. Coughs for the first couple days after the surgery were hell, but now sneezes are killer if I don’t have a chance to curl up around my abdomen so the muscles aren’t strained. No, I don’t have a cold; my throat was phlegmmy after the surgery because of the breathing tube they put to my lungs, and I have pollen allergies and my windows here at home open, so I’m sneezing when the wind kicks up. All in all, though, the pain isn’t so bad; it’s only intermittent, and it decreases a little more each day.

Wow, I guess I remembered more than I thought I did. LOL

© 2018 Ashe Elton Parker

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑