Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pre-op Day!

So much to do! So many people to give blood and other things to!

Blood donation first. At a different hospital down a few blocks from HSS (as my technician told me, HSS has a blood bank, just not a blood donation facility).

I've tried to give blood before and it's gone poorly. Not that I faint or freak out, more that I never make it past the initial interview. When it's for your own surgery they don't care about what potential little critter demons may be lurking in your veins, but when someone else's life is involved in the mix, be warned - you may be tripped up by such questions as:

What country did you grow up in? (England, it turns out, is a bad answer, as I may have some dormant mad cow disease just laying in wait for a really bad time to attack.)

Have you traveled out of the country in the past 5 years? (Yes, because I am not a hermit...?)

What country/countries have you traveled to? (South Africa, Uganda, Namibia... I should just stop here because that look you're giving me tells me that you don't want my dirty dirty blood... oh well.)

But this time all they cared about was my iron level. "It has to be over 11 or you can't donate," said the technician as she pricked my finger.

(oh please let the coma-inducing iron that I've only taken for 5 days be working!!!)

I rocked out a 12, people. I am very impressed with myself.

Then into a room with about 10 huge recliners and several people in various stages of donation. And a strange party-like atmosphere. I truly felt a cocktail would not have been out of order.

I lay down in my recliner and a male tech came over wearing a badge that read 'Ask me if I've cleaned my hands'. I couldn't resist.

"Have you cleaned your hands??!?!"

He took it well. I'm sure he gets it all day long.

He set up a pouch next to my recliner on top of some machine that rocked it back and forth as my blood ran out into it. Apparently this is so that the blood is mixed with the anti-coagulant in the bag and doesn't... congeal. Ew. Also he told me that a pint is about 2 cups, which was the grossest thing I think I heard all day, because cups are for cooking.

It went pretty quickly, and then he also took some into vials "to test for West Nile, Hepatitis, other things" (um... like HIV? Pretty sure that's on the list.)

And then I was unhooked and taken into the little kitchenette to drink my juice and eat some cookies. The little fridge in the kitchen said in big letters "FOOD ONLY" which I thought was hilarious. An older, quite glamorous woman came in after me and sat down at my table.

"Can I ask - are you a dancer?"

"No," I said. "I'm a yoga teacher."

"I just knew you did something interesting with your body."

(In another setting that would be a come-on, but this woman was so cool. She was who I want to be when I grow up. We chatted for a while. This was her fourth surgery.)

Then a nurse hurried past. "I've got a nauseous!"

Very glad I wasn't a nauseous. I wasn't even a light-headed. The fig newtons probably helped.

There was a plaque on the wall for the "20 Gallon Donor Club" with several gold-plated names. 20 gallons of blood, people. That's a veritable Carrie-style bloodbath. Seriously though, I'm glad they're around. People need blood for surgery and ticking bombs like me aren't helpful. Bet they don't travel much though.

And that was really the most exciting part of the day. I met with an internist who asked me a bunch of general health questions. She was interested in my vision-obscuring bout with a blood clot a few years ago as apparently hip surgery makes you prone to clots, but since there was a specific reason for the clot that is no longer around, she didn't think it was a big deal. In her words, I'm as healthy as a horse.

And then a nurse who drew more blood, and an echocardiogram to make sure my heart beats (which was pretty cool I got to see it on a monitor like on the doctor shows) and a chest X-ray to make sure I have lungs.

There was also a pastoral care request form - I could have any sort of priest or chaplain or imam or rabbi I wanted, pre- or post-experience. I could even get a prayer rug. I kind of wanted to check 'prayer rug' and 'Roman Catholic priest' just to see what would happen, but I refrained. I had already bugged the clean hands guy.

Dear Ones, I take my leave of you tomorrow for my Bahamian vacation. If I can access, I may post, or I may not, as you will no longer feel sympathetic and will hold back on the gifts and visits out of spite. Soon after I return the surgery will be upon us. I will try to set things up so my brother can put out a little "she's fine" on here, but if you don't hear anything for a while, do not worry. All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

And I shall be taking copious notes for some ferocious post-op posting.

1 comment:

Nadine Fawell said...

Our thoughts will be with you - good luck!