Feeling testy. Ten blips.

If today was any indication, I may be starting to lose my natural patience. As a down-to-earth Taurus, it usually takes quite a bit before I see even a light shade of red.

Now, let it be known that it’s possible my testiness today was activated by any number of things.

Rising at 7:30 am could be the basic culprit. Not getting enough good sleep probably gave me the physical trigger for my emotional irritations over the rest of the day. Feeling ‘lo batt’ from the get-go probably didn’t help me cope at my best with the rest of the challenges I faced.

Impatience is the mark of independence, not of bondage.

Marianne Moore

But before I continue, let me first give a brief backgrounder to what led up to today. (This is just for anyone who cares to follow my journey… it’s not an agreeable or particularly insightful post.)

For the past three chemo sessions, the oncology nurses have found it increasingly difficult to find plump enough veins to insert the IV (intravenous) needles used administer the medication. Each week, my hand and arm were poked and prodded, and at least two needles (plus up to an hour) were wasted with collapsed veins and failed attempts.

I first mentioned it in my journal here, and at that time, the nurses could see what was coming and already suggested I get the port. When I raised the issue with my oncologist, he simply said he chose “to believe I was having a bad day.” Wishful thinking, that proved to be. A week later he relented.

Over a week more was lost in the time for my oncologist to write a prescriptive letter for my medical insurer and for the latter to confirm it was partially covered. With no referral forthcoming from my own doctor, I turned to a friend who is a practicing endocrinologist, and she came through for me.

Can I just say that even up to here, none of this waiting and seeking and following up felt a cake walk?

When we get impatient because something is taking too long, we should remember that Life waits on us a thousand times more than we wait on Life.

Laura Teresa Marquez

My growing annoyance—with my free-flowing f-bombs—was no doubt born out of a measure of low-level anxiety just to get this done. And the time pressure added to the burden.

On Monday I contacted one of the surgeons my friend named. Things started to move at breakneck speed.

That afternoon I had a video-meeting with her and she gave me a daunting list of things I needed to do to prepare for the operation on Wednesday. Yes, less than two days later! But it’s exactly what I’d hoped for, I had no time to lose.

The next morning, that is yesterday (and already feels like eons ago), I went to one lab to get my covid clearance, then another lab to do my weekly blood tests. In the afternoon, after sending him virtual stacks of lab reports (including the 2D echo I had insisted on getting earlier to get a baseline picture of my heart, yay!), I met online with a cardiologist to get the clearance I needed. Got that. Immediately following, again online, I met with an anesthesiologist.

I was obliged to fill out the same personal medical information for each of them, of course in their own non-standard form. The lab reports were completed in time, downloaded from an online site, and forwarded to the various people who said they needed them.

So today…

I’m tired already and will briefly outline where I felt or even acted testy:

Blip #1

I was asked to arrive at the hospital at 9 am to get admitted as a day patient. I was again asked to fill forms and show lab reports (I had anticipated as much and stored the reports on my phone). They also wanted a hefty deposit… but wouldn’t accept a personal check.

Blip #2

I was escorted to the floor of the operating room. There I waited until I was called by a number, not name, ostensibly for privacy, but it felt impersonal. And there again I was asked to show the lab reports. The only one anyone really seemed to care about was the RT-PRC covid test.

Blip #3

It was about 9:45 and I was again escorted to a “holding room”—a horrible name for an interim waiting room, methinks. I was told to undress, put on the hospital gown… and in a near-freezing room waited for my surgeon to arrive; she was “stuck in traffic,” I was told. Filipino time. Finally got a nurse’s attention to get me a blanket (a ray of sunshine—it had been warmed).

Blip #4

I’d forgotten to bring my Kindle to read, so I just sat there… and sat there… staring into space.

Blip #5

In the meantime, waiting for the surgeon, I was interviewed again! I don’t think I was very pleasant in answering anymore. Is there no interconnected business process here?

Blip #6

I was also asked to sign a number of blank consent forms for things that raised issues for me. Video? Blood transfusion? I’d been asked for my RT-PRC report nearly a dozen times by now, but no one ever asked me what my blood type is.

Blip #7

AFTER the surgeon arrived and briefed me, a nurse began to try to insert an IV. I said, “good luck!” (in as neutral tone as I could muster), suggested she put it on my arm, and use a baby needle. No, she thought she had better ideas, so I left her to it while she added two more unnecessary holes in my hand and wasted two needles (that I then got to pay for). The third try was in my wrist, and that now looks a bit inflamed. Not a happy camper.

Blip #8

The clock in the operating room when I was rolled in showed it was 12:45. About the time I had asked my lovely friend to be ready to pick me up. I had no way to contact her.

Blip #9

The deposit ended up being only 40% of the total bill (without even the surgeon’s fee). Our bank won’t increase our credit card limit and this went way beyond it. Again, they wouldn’t accept a personal check and they wouldn’t release me to go home to make the bank transfer. I gave them a testy piece of my mind; I was furious by now. I couldn’t reach my honey because the phone network doesn’t reach into our home. I was feeling too disturbed (it made me feel stupid later) to think to call him on a chat platform (there was internet in the hospital lobby). Instead, my friend, who had been patiently waiting, suggested she drive home to get my honey to contact me. Then I reached him on chat and he gave me another idea I had been too dazed to think of myself. One the hospital admin could also have suggested. So, then I waited almost an hour in the lobby in a wheelchair (protocol) to be picked up. It was 5 pm instead of the promised 1 pm when I left the hospital.

Blip #10

The final insult of the day came once I got home. I took the first of the prescribed pain medications. I had warned her that I did not want drugs that would make me sleepy and explained what happened to me with Benadryl. I had started writing this post feeling fine at about 6:30, when suddenly a tidal wave of dizziness overcame me. I couldn’t even make the 20 steps to my bed without dropping to the floor! Barely managed to get to and into my bed and was knocked out for nearly three hours. (I found out later this evening this should not have happened and the surgeon suggested I switch to a milder NSAID.)

Tomorrow is my ninth of twelve chemo sessions. The silver lining is that they won’t be prodding and poking my hand any more. Wish me luck.

Tonight I hope to get a good, deep sleep so I won’t be as testy tomorrow. Let my good patience and good humor return. And let my future posts be more insightful.

In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow,
Thou ‘rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow,
Hast so much wit and mirth and spleen about thee,
There is no living with thee, nor without thee.

Joseph Addison

Is there anything you can relate to in my story? Or does it just land as one big whine to you?

PS. Many, many, thanks to the 100+ family and friends from around the globe who responded to my call for healing thoughts today. Your care, hugs, love, and prayers gave me the strength to get through this awful day. And a special thank you to my patient friend who drove me to the hospital and waited patiently without complaint.

18 comments

  • Yeah. I can relate to it all. Nothing changes…at least hospital efficiency has remained the same since…lets see…53 years…

    • Yes, even in the best hospitals around the world, many of which exhibit big posters with grand statements of vision, the practice of human-centric service remains elusive. And to my mind it’s a matter of inadequate business process planning from a patient’s point of view. I’ve worked on developing business processes since the early 90s, but I learned about the human-centric process a dozen or so years ago when I read Tim Brown’s “Change by Design” in which he introduces IDEO’s design-thinking approach. One of the key case studies he wrote about was the Mayo Clinic (considered the top hospital in the US) and I was struck by the significant and meaningful improvements that could be made to any systemic process by engaging the users in the planning and design. That the whole world hasn’t embraced design-thinking yet baffles me. Thanks, Jill. 🌸🙏🌸

  • What an ordeal! Praying for more strength for you as you take on the last three chemo sessions.

    • Life is like that, isn’t it, Gayle? So many ordeals to test our mettle. I know you’ve been tested a lot this year, too. Here’s to strength to both of us. 💪🌸💪🌸💪

  • You are entitled to be testy at this time, blips or not, Ciscs. I remember my Moms, one of the most patient and gracious people I ever knew, who, after her chemo treatments would sometimes become super impatient and testy, too. Some days later, she would apologize for being so because she said there was something inside her that just did not quite feel right, not really a pain or an ache, but just a general feeling of not being well….. and it’s not anyone’s fault, least of all yours.
    I am still amazed that you can still write a blog just hours after your infusion – you are truly a Superwoman, Ciscs! But superwomen must rest, too, and sometimes yes, they are entitled to testiness!
    Big hugs and lots of prayers, everyday!

    • You are precious to me, Gigi. 💜🙏💜 Yes, I too think the chemo drugs play a role. I can imagine how unfamiliar with those testy feelings both your mom and those around her must have felt. The validation feels good and your mom may not have had the benefit of others sharing their experience with her. This is partly why I am writing–others may benefit. 🌸🙏🌸

  • Oh ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh my day was awful as well, perhaps if for no other reason than sympathy 10000000 fold for you. I’m amazed at the strength in your spirit of tomorrow being a better day…and given that, I trust it will be!!!

    It HELPED to read this today. I promise you. I adore you insightless or otherwise XOXO.

    • Not happy you had a crap day, Joan! 😐 I’m writing this reply during my 9th session, almost done. The nurse did a happy dance when I revealed the portal and this will be my shortest session yet! So yes, so far it’s a good day, all considered. Basking in your love and sending much of mine back to you. 💜🙏💜

  • I am surprised a post like that wasn’t written sooner. No other surprises here. It is how most patients are treated ( and this is probably not even a public hospital).

    That being said I feel sorry you had to go through all this but glad that the operation succeeded!

    Take it one day at the time and suddenly this nightmare will be over! Wish you strength!

    • Oh, yes yes yes… indeed I am privileged not to have to be treated in a public hospital in this poor country! Thanks for bringing in that perspective, Sidney. And yesSS! I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel… at least for the chemo! 🌸🙏🌸

  • Currently suffering a breakthrough bout of Enteritis and am waiting for a CT scan. Needless to say, it is likely to be 3 or 4 weeks before I can get in for that, and I’ve had to take the initiative with my Doctor to suggest options for pain management in the meantime. Glad I had an old bottle of prescription opiods left from last time this happened, or it would be hospital for me. It may end up there anyway, but I sure relate to your journey and outpatient impatience. Hard to fly with eagles and all that…

    So now you have the port in, hopefully your infusions should be easier for you. At least I don’t have to pay for every little thing during my hospital adventures, and thus not subject to that stressor. The rest does sound very familiar. Rest well, my friend, and tomorrow is another (brighter) day!?

    • Indeed it’s a brighter day, Judi. Am doing my 9th cycle of chemo as I tap on my phone and the nurse was thrilled to see the port. It will be a relatively short session. As good as it can be, considering the crappy circumstances.

      So sorry about your suspected enteritis. I can relate a bit to that misery, having suffered one long night of stomach cramps with runs to the toilet last week. I just confirmed it was caused by my stupidly eating half a pomelo (like grapefruit). Amazing how much what we eat plays a role.

      Sorry your pain calls for opiate pain killers. That sucks. I just pieced together that I don’t tolerate opiates at all, so I’m now on ibuprofen to manage the expected pain from the portal insertion.

      Finally, it’s also no fun that you have to wait to get tested to confirm the diagnosis. I do fully acknowledge and appreciate how fast it all went for me to get the portal inserted.

      Take good care, my friend. 🌸🙏🌸

  • Huge hugs xx
    I really feel your patience was great, mine would of been lost at 9.45 about traffic…. but then you always saw the full part of the glass.

    Love you xxx
    Good luck for tomorrow! xxx

  • I disagree. There is something very insightful in this article (as always). Common Humanity. Under the right circumstances all human traits will emerge. As a guru once told his students, “If you think you are approaching enlightenment, go visit your family.” So glad you finally have the port, dear friend. And I hope things get easier for you. 💜

By Francisca

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