Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Soccer, Paul...NO!

Paul has met his match. Granted, it's taken a whole team but they've managed to curtail him...

He asked the Vanderbilt staff this morning if they would let him go to his son's soccer game this afternoon, explaining that the IV pole would probably retract and fit in the car. And wouldn't ya know, they said no.

He first mentioned his intention to ask to his morning nurse whose name I won't mention so as not to incriminate her. She was very sympathetic towards Paul's plight and mentioned that his best bet for getting a yes would be Dr Greer as he has a very big heart.

Emboldened by this lovely tidbit, Paul was armed and dangerous by the time Dr Greer's team arrived for morning rounds. You see, Paul also had a trump card up his PICC-lined sleeve. He'd already seen his lab results online and noticed his Neutrophil counts (the cells that fight infection) were also high. He was ready with his case.

To Dr Greer's credit, he handled being put on the spot in front of several doctors in training with all the fineness and precision one would expect from a well experienced doctor. He in no way hemmed or hawed. Nor did he even evade an answer...he simply passed the buck...

Actually, he supported Paul's idea as to how it would be possible by explaining that they can, in fact, do this type of Chemo on an outpatient basis. He did caution as to liabilities for he and the hospital but then said they would not want to withhold his going based on that alone. He finished his sympathetic explanation with a, "But we'll have to get an OK from the nurses here. And they're probably going to squawk!"

Paul replied that he had actually already mentioned it to one of the nurses. Dr Greer asked what they said. Paul told him, "To ask Dr Greer as he's the most likely to say yes!" The room filled with laughter and Dr Greer went right from our room to the nurses main desk (next to our room) to plead our cause.

We could hear him delivering our request to Blanche, the head nurse, whom we really like a lot, and Paul actually unplugged his IV pole and was heading out the door to plead his own case when Blanche met him at the door with an ever so lovely smile and a, "I'm sorry but we can't let you do that."

Paul, grinning ear to ear, "Not even if I'm careful?"

Blanche, grinning just as much, "How do you think accidents happen? They're accidents!"

Paul, "I'll stand back from the scrimmage line and have my brother block any shots that come my direction!"

At that point, Blanche looked over at me and quipped, "He's incorrigible!" (or something like that) to which Paul responded,

"So that's a no?"

"NO!" Blanche obligingly reproved.

At this point I interjected, "Hold on! I've got to get a picture of you two!" Hence the picture at the start of this blog. The picture is obviously staged because Blanche isn't smiling and Blanche is ALWAYS smiling!

She said she told Dr Greer, "You know we can't approve that!" Dr Greer responded with, "I'm the good cop. You're the bad cop!"

So there you have it, Folks. An inside look at the masterful handling of one unorthodox zealot by obvious professionals who clearly have his best interests in mind even when he doesn't!

Here's a picture I took afterwards. Though it looks digitally altered, as if Paul's head was randomly inserted, it's not. He's on a yoga mat on the floor, nursing sciatica issues. Oh, did I mention he's got sciatica issues today and probably needs to rest as much as possible?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Blood/Brain Barrier...

So, we're back at Vanderbilt for Paul's 3rd (and hopefully last) round of Chemo before his stem cell transplant.

This Chemo is targeting his central nervous system as they found blasts (baby cancer cells which I refer to as blasted blasts!) in the spinal fluid. Apparently not all Chemotherapy can cross the blood/brain barrier but this stuff will. So he's getting 2 potent bags every day for 6 days. Here's his blog which gives the details and how he's doing with all of this: Thrilled to Death.

It will take one week to administer the Chemo, one week for it to brew inside, killing those blasted blasts, then another week or two for his immune system to come back up to normal levels.

I'm spending evenings/nights there with him at the hospital and then I go over to the apartment during the day to help the kids with their schooling and visit with whichever lady is there from our village.

I can honestly say at this time that Life is Good!

So, I stay in the mornings until after the doctors make their rounds. I love that we get to see and hear from the team working on Paul's case each and every morning. Our current head doctor (I'm sure there's a more impressive title to use there but I'm not sure what it is) is Dr Greer.

He's the older gentleman with the snazzy tie, casually leaning on the end of the bed. One feels as though one (or one's husband) is in good hands with Dr Greer.

But I confess to experiencing some brain/blood barriers myself with these visits.

If you had distinguished people coming to your room each morning, what would you do? Well, I would fold up the blankets, tidy up the place, fix my hair, and hold off going to the bathroom so as not to miss their visit. (I have to walk a good distance to use the restroom. The one in our room is reserved for Paul while he's receiving Chemo.)

This morning Dr Greer and his team were a bit later than usual...

Now don't panic. I'm not going to go through my Depends! story again.

As we waited for Dr Greer's team to arrive, my brain started finding myriads of minuscule details to attend to. Here's what it looked like:

Brain: "Oh! Those blankets are folded really sloppy!" Arms reached out and quickly refolded blankets.

Brain: "Ugh! Are those my shoes I smell? I REALLY need to clean those!" Arms dug into bag quickly-before the doctors arrived- for Lysol to disinfect the air (Doesn't everyone carry travel-size Lysol in their bag?!)

Brain: "Is this shirt too wrinkled?" Body quickly moved to mirror to inspect the shirt. While there, fingers fluffed hair. Hair then proceeded to fall back into the exact place it was before the fluffing. And on and on it went. Brain busy. Blood seemingly barred from brain.

Then Paul got up and announced that he was going to the exercise bike. He suggested the doctors could look for him on the exercise bike in the hall if they came before he returned.

Brain finally stopped fidgeting. Besides, everything was ready. We just needed the doctors to arrive.

A few minutes later - and I mean minutes - the doctor and his entourage were at our door! (Of course!)

Sigh. Brain thoughts: "They're going to go see him at the exercise bike. I've straightened up and cleaned up and Lysol-ed up for nothing. Oh well. The polite thing would be to go ahead and tell them where he is."

I opened the door and found myself face to face with Dr Greer. I sweetly told him where he could find Paul. He gazed back in his polite way as I talked and agreeably planned to go find Paul on the exercise bike.

I pulled my head back inside the room and THEN - only then - remembered that I NEVER BRUSHED MY TEETH this morning! Talk about a blood/brain barrier!

I'm quite certain I delivered that sweet face to face message to that distinguished gentleman with my most awful morning dragon breath! ARRRGH! And to his credit he never flinched even a little. Not even an eyelid flicker!

So, that's life at Vanderbilt at this time. I'll leave you with this awesome picture of PiccMan minus the cape! I may be failing at being awesome, but I assure you he is not!