Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Exciting Ride Near Midnight

Hey, ya'll.
Monday night at 9 pm Eastern Time, I was put on a gurney owned by Rural Metro Ambulance Delivery service, and met Dylan and Keith. Dylan was the driver, with whom Carol rode shotgun, and Keith was the attendant. Keith and I had a really good opportunity to get acquainted. Both he and Dylan are charming, delightful young men. I was especially impressed by Dylan's tatts. He was really proud of his medical insignia tattoo, which meant a lot to him. Carol sat up in the front seat with Dylan, and Keith rode with me in the back. There is a narrow bench on the right side of the van, so since I rode backward on the gurney, Keith was on my left.

When they lifted me into the van, the gurney was locked into place by doohickeys on the floor, so I was very stationary. It was thrilling to sit on the gurney. My back was propped up and I was able to watch the moon out the back windows of the van. It was full and almost as orange as I.

Keith told me that he was from Union county, and I said, "Hey! That's where my sister-in-law Mae came from. She grew up in Union County ." I told him her maiden name, and he said he knew some people by that name, and when I named her brothers and sisters, he didn't seem to know of any of them. When I told him that her father had been a constable, he didn't know the name. (guess he wasn't around any more when Keith was born!)

We stopped about 40 minutes out of Nashville for a potty break and you should have seen me getting out of the metro van. The grids on the fender were rough, and I only had on no-slip socks. As soon as they realized it, two number 15 shoes immediately were put on the fender, and I was told to "Just step on our feet." How very gallant! Carol said I looked like a princess holding court.

In another 40 minutes we were pulling into the emergency bay of Vanderbilt Medical Center. the back door opened, and I was quickly lifted down by two strong young men. They had been given information that I was supposed to be on the 8th floor, but when we got to that room, there was a sign on the door that indicated that somebody else was in there. Dylan said, "uh-oh...don't think we're supposed to be in there" so Keith went to check on where I was supposed to be. I was amazed, and still am, at the size of this Goliath of a hospital. I was finally taken to SICU on 3rd floor, and...

(Carol is writing this part....)Carol was whisked out and left as an orphan child. I was told that I couldn't see Mom the rest of the night (they did finally let me come in for a little while but only because they wanted answers I could give) and that I couldn't put my suitcases OR Mom's into the ICU room Mom was in. I was going to have to keep up with our things (several bags) all by myself, and sleep in the second floor waiting room, which was okay, but that yes, someone could steal my things, and not to leave anything valuable accessible. At this point, tears are leaking out my eyes. I'm exhausted, I had no place to go at 1 am, didn't know a safe neighborhood to find a hotel, couldn't get a just tipped it for me. I think the nurse got the picture, because she came back in 15 minutes and informed me that they were going to let me park our things in Mom's room. Whew!!! Oh, and there were no chairs in SICU, because the rules said we coudn't sit anyway. (fortunately, things got much nicer after we got into her room on Tuesday night...)

Okay, Mom is back...
Gee, Carol, I'm so sorry that you had such a hard time. I knew how you were feeling because the nurse came back in and said, "Mrs. Young's daughter is really stressed out, because she's back there crying. Don't you think it would be okay, this one time. to leave her mothers things and her suitcase back here? The nurse who was taking my information down (Misty) said, "I don't see why we couldn't!" Fortunately, kindness prevailed, and Carol was rescued by kindness.

We visited for a short while, Carol got what she needed for the night from the suitcases, and the plastic bags (we had packed what stuff was in the hospital room in Knoxville into plastic bags), and like the girl in Glass Menagerie, who said, "We must depend on the kindness of others," Carol found that she really could depend on the kindness of others, (at least in this situation) at about 1 am, and I was left in the ICU.

There, lying on that bed, I had an experience like none other I have ever had. Upon my being deposited upon that bed, they immediately set about trying to find a new site for an IV stick into me to place an IV connection. (I have really tiny veins, really hard to find. Veteran nurses have left my side in frustration at their inability to stick an IV into me.) Literally trying from my head to my toes, there was hardly an inch of available blood vessel real estate that wasn't tried. Several were tried and dismissed.

They decided to put one in the jugular on each side of my neck. But, they knew if they used it for the test of the nuclear testing the next morning that it would cause major harm, so finally about 4 am, they decided to put in a Central Line into the subclavian portion to the right of my neck. Believe me, they tried very, very hard to find a suitable site up until the time they settled on the subclavian. At this point, you need to know that Vanderbilt is a teaching hospital, and a top notch medical center. Although House is a fictionalized show, Vanderbilt is the real thing. Groups of white or blue clad coats wander from room to room, gathering data, forming opinions, lapping up the input from the senior, experienced docs.

(Before this decision was made, and when I first checked into the Vanderbilt, I was immediately set upon by 6 different people, asking for my medical history. One would ask a question and I would no sooner answer it than another person threw another question at me. This was all during the blood estate search. My mind drew lots of blanks. I prayed as I laid there, asking God for His strength and soon a calmness settled over me. I was able to answer more questions, many of which I had already answered. Fortunately, I had not forgotten the answers in the interim.)

There was no sleep to be had that night. Although I tried! The procedure for inserting a central line is one that is unbelievable. Apparently there is a vein that runs through the subclavian area which has to be felt in order to "hit the spot". The patient is prepared by lowering the head slightly, below the height of the feet on teh other end of the bed. Kind of like you'd tilt a board to cut it on the circle cut saw. Sorry folks, I'm no carpenter. They covered my face with a blue paper, kind of stiff, so it will stay in place. (Like they don't know you can feel what is going on!) Since I can't use numbing agents, they gave me a portion of morphine just as they were ready to begin. It filled my face and head with a slight heaviness because it was injected directly into the jugular vein. Then they proceeded to cut the skin on the right side of my neck so that they could feel the vein which runs deep in the clavian area. Remember I said this is a teaching hospital, and the doctor who was instructing the intern type doctor was having him feel so he could know where to put the tube to prepare for injections. AFter 2 or 3 tries, the young man wasn't quite finding the spot, so then I spoke and said, "you're teaching him how to insert that?" and he said, "yes," so I said, "how about going ahead and doing it and getting it over with?" So he got over there and took the other fellas place and finished doing the setup. One of them proceeded to stitch the tube in place. The central line has 3 places where injections can be placed, or where IVlines can be connected, or withdrawals can be made (come to the bank, folks!) It was in, and I thanked the Lord it was connected. I needed rest!

They checked my vital signs, and I had the inflatable stockings put on my legs. It was very quiet for the rest of the night. Somewhere in there, Carol was allowed to come in for a few minutes and get her stuff.

Each day here is a challenge. I pray that each day I am able to meet that challenge.
This is Blabbin' Grammy, signing off for the night. See you tomorrow and will share more with you. Love to all of you.


Tanya said...

kevin would be jealous he says he wants to ride in an ambulance I told him I hoped he never did :) ... I am glad to hear you are in good spirits. I hope all goes well with the surgery, I think I heard that it did actually so i guess now you are just recovering. We love you here and can't wait for you to get back on your feet :)

Barbara said...

So good to hear from you , hope things are better by now.
Hope you will be back home soon.
Love and Prayers, Barbara

Judy said...

Hi Grammy, What an experience you are having!! The ride to the hospital, the luggage, your daughter, and finding the vein makes for great reading but I bet it was not much fun for you. I hope your surgery went well and you are so much better and recovering today. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I know you will be glad when it is all over with and you are up and around again. Love and hugs, Judy

Sandi Van Winkle said...

Firstly, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Second: "Been there, done that, have the t-shirt". Someday I'll tell you our story of leaving St. Mary's via ambulance to Vandy for basically the same reason, same doctor.

The staff at Vanderbilt are the best in my opinion. I have already decided should I ever need elective surgery, that is where I'm going. You will receive excellent care 24/7.

Carol, (if you don't know already)the Vanderbilt University library and bookstore are just a short walk away, plus there is a used bookstore down in the village area. There are also lots of really good restaurants/coffee shops should you feel like getting out for a short walk. I was there 10 days with my husband while they did multiple diagnostic tests and surgery (for the same problem). I couldn't go with him and a couple of times and I had to get out for a few minutes.

Hang in there! Again, thinking about you daily and praying for a quick recovery. TN said...

Grammy, you are such a brave soul. What an experience. I pray for it to all be over soon and that you will be on the road to recovery. Know that you are on my mind and in my prayers. Sending a big hug! Clara