I have the veins of a three year old

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.

Views: 930

Comment by greenheron on January 27, 2013 at 5:24am

Damn, woman.  I wish I could reach through my computer and hug you.  Paragraph hugs are too lame for this.  So much is weird about cancer, but maybe one of the weirdest is how you don't feel sick until they begin to treat you. With all that nasty vein sticking, it sounds like your treatment has commenced.

Staging Day is one long horrible day. Really one of the worst. They are making sure that the cancer has not spread to other organs, because if it has, those would be treated first. That's the protocol. Your tumor is a teensy little thing. I'm betting it stayed put.

You're doing good. You will find yourself doing that stuff that actors do, who play the role of someone with cancer in the movies, and it won't be nearly as bad as they made it look (don't watch that shit now btw!). Kind strangers will appear and make it easier for you, like Tina.  Now you know about staying hydrated. That happened to me too, veins just sort shrinky dinky.

So now that Staging Day is over, maybe you can counterbalance it with Splurging Day.  One of the well-documented side effects of cancer is racking up some debt on your charge card–hahahah, but wait, I'm serious–they say $2500.00 is the average amount. That is when I bought my 700 fill power down comforter. I still sleep under that every night!

Do you know anyone else who has been through this yet (you soon will)?  Lunch with them might be helpful. It's easy to feel alone. Some of your people will start looking at you with pity and/or fear. Cancer club members won't do that. For what it's worth, you are in my thoughts.

Comment by Jewellya on January 27, 2013 at 8:47am

honestly GH, I did go shopping yesterday. not going to get anything too extravagant, but dammit, when you find yourself in a hospital, you realize how badly you need new underwear. today I'm going crazy with my hair. I've never dyed it before,  so that's happening. I'm imagining purple highlights.

One of the first people I told at work, we just happened to be in the elevator and she teased me for looking tired, has had Hep C. she took a chemo-like drug and has had a tough life in general. something about the way she speaks to me is very different than those "offering me their prayers". One girl even invited me to a "Healing" by Joel Osteen, or his wife , or whoever. Soinso in their family was "Healed" from cancer 20 years ago. I bet she still went to a doctor too, Joel. I politely declined to the best of my ability, then she was concerned that i was offended by the invite.

another woman in the office had just finished tending to her husband and his colon cancer. She is a woman who needs more emotional support than I do so I avoid talking to her and her offers "to help". I knew I was going to pop off to her at some point because the office is making so many more concessions for me already than they did for her--I shouldn't have to be the one to explain that Life ain't Fair, deary. I avoided the pop-off as the answer "came to me" on my drive in the other day. The next time she came to my desk I said "You took care of your husband because he is your husband. Since it is my choice, I wouldn't want to put you in that position again." Aren't I sweet? (Ugh.) And everyone who helps me all seem to understand without me saying so that she is not one to speak freely to.

I already determined that my second co-worker buddy is better for me than the first. The first lady to accompany me  to doctors fusses over my not "resting". Unless I am completely drained, i don't stop. Yesterday I got up at 730, went shopping, went to work, took a break at work to run about 4 miles (FELT GREAT!), and worked a little bit more before coming home. I don't want to act sick before I feel sick.

The last week of December, I signed up for 4 half marathons between now and St Patricks Day, bought and paid for. I heard a phrase during my oncologist visit: "Life don't stop for Chemo." Getting a pink shirt and printing that on the back. would be quite a sight to see me bald-headed and running (power-walking if i have to) a half marathon. My first is on Feb 9th, two days after I meet my surgeon.

Comment by Hyblaean~ Julie on January 27, 2013 at 1:14pm

"Thanks for the info Tina." you made me laugh. Wish I could repeat the favor. ((Jewellya)) yeah word hugs are lame, but it's all I got.

Comment by greenheron on January 27, 2013 at 2:51pm

So Splurge Day means new undies?  I think you can do better than that!

Your hair looks FABULOUS. Really. I went a little wild in celebrating the hair...braids, beads, a small bird vertebra, all the Monopoly pieces wired on. 

YES to the marathons.  If you don't feel great, you'll have something to inspire you.  Besides, you will feel better than you think you will in your worst case scenario imagination.

The helpy-healy advisers...I'm impressed at what a quick study you are. It took me a couple months to figure out who could handle news and who did not need any.

Here's my well-meaner story (there were so many, but this was the only time I lost it and yelled at someone). Pull up a chair and sit down.  In the first week, I told just a handful of friends, but one spread it around. Someone he told stood up at the local Unitarian church during the part of the service where individuals step up to a MICROPHONE, light a candle, say who the candle is for (by name),  and ask the rest of the congregation (about 200 people) to pray for them. This woman had a friend who had died of breast cancer, so she decided every time she learned of someone with breast cancer, that she would participate in this particular church ritual, as some sort of tribute to her friend. Good intentions, well-meaning, but bear in mind that I live in the same small town, knew many people in that congregation, had not told anyone at work yet, and had never met this woman. The next week, someone I hardly knew, came up to me in the library check out line, put her hand on my arm and whispered "how are you"? I was kind dumbstruck, but managed to ask how she had heard.  Oh, Brenda S. stood up at church last Sunday and lit a candle for you. Who the eff is Brenda S.?!

I am not usually like this, but I went home, looked up Brenda S.'s telephone number, called her, and gave her a big giant earful of fury. I told her that if she had really supported her friend with cancer, she might have known that you don't blast delicate information around town, especially about someone you don't even know. I told her how I had not informed my employer yet, but now would have to, because of her public announcement. Rather than apologize, she told me that she did this with every woman she learned about who was (her words exactly) "struck down by breast cancer". Too many of us she said.  It needed telling. I kinda flipped at that, and told her how horrible that sounded to someone newly diagnosed, and that she had not only done nothing to help me, or other women, she had hurt me, and this practice of hers sucked. Her response was that she was "helping", that I was a crazy angry woman and that other women appreciated her "help".  Thing is, Brenda S., it's true, cancer can make you a crazy angry bitch, and if you had an ounce of sensitivity, you might understand that, or at least respect that!! 

Well, lookie.  After all these years, still furious at Brenda S.  ;-) 

Comment by greenheron on January 27, 2013 at 2:55pm

P.S.  Hyblean-Julie gives the best lame cyber hugs, btw.

Comment by Hyblaean~ Julie on January 27, 2013 at 3:45pm

(((Greenie))) ;) 

Brenda is one clueless human being.

Comment by Arthur James on January 27, 2013 at 4:04pm

` I wonder? Hyblaean~ Julia?

She give Free Home Visits?


I show belly-button scars,

two-legs with calf-wounds,

heartache, and various boo-

boos all over my` Body too.


I no moan about ` boo boo.

I kiss/hug other's ` boo boo.

This is not a vile ill` hug too.

I show many war` boo boos.

Comment by Jewellya on January 27, 2013 at 4:11pm


I gotta boo boo on my boobie.

There, I said it. that's been rolling around in my head for a couple weeks now.

you win.

Comment by Jenny on January 27, 2013 at 4:13pm

I would guess that your attitude is something that will really carry you through this. You will kick cancer's ass! 

Comment by Arthur James on January 27, 2013 at 4:21pm



That took courage.

If Ya no be honest?

Ya Toot in public.


I mentioned to my Grandson:


You need Ya Hair-MOP chopped.

Then, I said Ya getting muscles.

He tightened up his body frame.


Then, as he was flexing muscles?

He accidently ` TOOTED very loud.

So, it better to be honest. Thanks.


Take care.

No flatter.

I be fatter.

I show chub.

I mean belly.

I have many.

One real naval,

and other scars

and belly-holes.

fun read. wit.

Bless. Nice.

Cute Hair.

Nice Mop.

Silken . . .


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