I went for the MRI on Thursday--loud noisy thing. It was relatively uneventful and kind of relaxing, or maybe I was just tired. I was lying face down on a inclined ramp with The Girls suspended within the framework. I was pretty amused that I needed to adorn each nipple with a medically necessary pasty with a little ball on it. For my comfort, I was fully draped in a robe and a blanket, so at least I didn’t feel exposed.
And it was relaxing, that is, until my arms, resting on the table above my head, fell asleep. And the more I relaxed onto the framework the more it pressed onto my sternum in a less-than-comfortable fashion. For the last half of the 40 minute or so session, I was flexing my abs and shoulders to ever-so-subtly alleviate the pressure without actually moving. At the same time, I was fighting the near-involuntary desire within my arms to please move just a little to make the tingles stop.
This MRI they did with injected contrast. For that they had to run an IV into my arm. I’m OK with blood draws, although I’m a difficult stick. It took two attempts and the use of a “butterfly” needle to get my blood for the genetic screen. When I had my daughter, the anesthesiologist was called into my room to get the IV in because the nurses were having trouble. I believed it was because I had to do a complete fast, and therefore was dehydrated. At least I didn’t have to fast for the MRI and the nurse got it in. “Be careful,” he said, “It hit a valve so is only about 60 percent in.” Oh damn, I was so careful I asked the female nurse to help me out of my shirt sleeve before she left the room to let me change.
Friday, I had to fast for the CT scan. My last drink of water was at 12 noon. My check in was at 1:30. I was given the barium (I guess that’s what it was, tasted like generic Gatorade) at 2:00. Was called back for the fifteen minute scan just after 3:00. As I laid on the scan table, I was poked two—maybe three—times in my left elbow, once hitting cartilage, and once hitting an artery. They were calling in needle-sticking-experts from all over radiology and nearby departments. That artery? Went in like a charm, we thought he was awesome! “Wow, your arteries are shallow,” he says. So far, I’m the exception to every rule, so that was just another for the list. (These sticks are not listed in the actual order, by the way)
Twice in my left hand, they tried, by two different nurses. Once in my right elbow near to where the IV went in the day before. They used a “vein light” to see if that would help. And an hour after I was called back for a fifteen minute scan, they called my doctor to double check the necessity of the contrast. It was decided I should have an “ultrasound assisted” IV stick. I was sent to wait for a Radiologist to free up.
They also wanted to try one more time while we waited, so they parked me down the hall where an older gentleman was seated and a couple of nurses were trying to get his IV started. They went to look for “Drew” while I watched Hope and Tina work on the gentleman. At this point I’m a little lightheaded from my nerves, so when Tina decided to give it a stab in my right arm, I did not object. I just wanted it to be over and done with and I didn’t know how long I would be waiting for the Radiologist. She tried once in the back of my right wrist, and finally the vein that was used for the MRI, which “blew.” That sounds so much worse than it actually is, but that’s not the vocabulary a nervous wreck needs to be hearing.
The gentleman’s IV was finally successful and the nurses led him down the hall for his scans. Alone, I curled up in the extra-large IV chair and tried to doze off as I waited for one of the nurses assigned to me to tell me when the Radiologist was ready. Relaxing seemed to activate my tear ducts, so I did what I could to keep my thoughts in check. The nurses came by to check on me as they worked with their other patients. These were all good folks; everyone’s got a job to do.
A double check was made over what was taking so long with the Radiologist. Then Frank, one of the nurses called upon to attempt my IV stick, came around and led me to the Angio Suite and I am no longer sure if it was a Radiologist or another specialized doctor who finally got my IV into my bicep.
“And he won’t miss.” Frank said to me, his voice full of apology. They lidocained the area and used angioplasty equipment to find my major vein and guide a rather long catheter into my shoulder. A monitor turned on beside me and I could see a live chest x-ray with the catheter guide running up to my shoulder...in my vein..inside me.
"You get to play with the ten million dollar machine!" the doctor teased. Frank asked if there were any other reason he would have to run an IV into the arm like this. There arent any and he doesn't do many. "Just difficult sticks."
As I laid on the table, my arm stretched out for the doctor, Frank told me about his 7 kids, 6 of whom are adopted out of foster care, three sets of siblings. I know why he’s a nurse. Some people have a golden soul. He stayed with me to be the one to take that very large IV out.
IV complete and ready to go, I had to wait again for a (the?) CT scanner to free up again. And yes, the actual scan took only 15 minutes or so.
This whole time, my co-worker was waiting for me in a little waiting area down the hall. When I was first moved out of the scanner room, she saw me and I yelled to her that they couldn’t find a vein. When the nurses gave up, they found her to tell her I was still waiting for the radiologist.
With the scan complete, suddenly the nurses had questions “Did you have another scan today?”
“Yes, I was supposed to, I knew there was more than one, but I couldn’t tell you what.”
“Yes!” Hope said, “They called earlier and I told them we still had her.”
The paperwork was found and I needed a full body bone scan as well. At this point, it was 6 o’clock and I sat, dressed, in the waiting area with my co-worker. Calls were made and a nurse went opening doors. We discovered that that department had gone home for the night. It was supposed to be a three hour ordeal; they did me a favor.
“It’s not like them to leave when a patient is here, but it’s so late, you know...Did you pay a copay?” Cornell, the head radiology nurse, was very concerned about the situation.
“Yes, she did!” my coworker was on the ball as I was more than a little fuzzy, “they got a bunch of money from her.” Cornell took off to the billing department to explain that my account needed to be reopened and a note put in not to collect anything when I return. I tried calling today to reschedule that bone scan. Will try again on Monday.
And by the way, they will have to find a vein too. But I have been assured it is a small injection and can use a butterfly. I wonder if I have to fast.
Tiny little things, and all this time I just thought I was "fleshy".
Pressed my arm into my side and aggrevated them a bit. They only look a little bit better, but I've also have fluids in me.
Something else I learned: Tension collapses the veins. Tina told me that on attempt number eight. Thanks for the info Tina.
New Rule: nurses get three strikes. Then I demand heavy artillery.
Guess who's getting a port.