ELDER MUSIC: Rod Stewart
Notorious RBG (and Blog Schedule Change)

Four Days in the Hospital

Thank you for the kind concern many of you showed in the comments on last Wednesday's post and in emails, wondering where I was on Friday and Saturday when the usual posts did not show up. I sure do appreciate your concern. On the other hand, if you emailed and I have not/do not respond, I came home to more than 900 emails on top of all the medical record-keeping, medications and follow-up that need attention not to mention the blog work. I hope you understand.

Here is what happened.

In my little red PT Cruiser, I made my usual way to the lab early Wednesday morning for my weekly blood letting to check various levels including hemoglobin which tells us if and how much the anemia is improving. Or not.

Having done my part to help keep the clinic vampires nourished, I got a haircut and went to lunch with my terrific stylist. When I returned home, there were about six messages from the medical center each with a similar message: Get to the emergency room, your hemoglobin numbers are dangerously low, we need to transfuse you now.”

Oh goody.

But I've done this frequently enough now that it is almost routine. Usually, they pump the blood into me and I go home. This time, nooooo. After three or four months of this, it was time, they told me, to address and correct the underlying cause: repair the location of the bleed that is causing my numbers to tank.

That turned into four days. Because I had not intended to stay over night let alone three nights, I had not brought my laptop so was without an internet connection. Hence, no blog updates.

An endoscopy was performed during which, they say, I suddenly vomited blood that also gushed from my nose. (Amazingly, doctors and nurses and technicians, etc. pay big bucks to study medicine only to regularly encounter such messiness. Me? I was asleep. If they hadn't told me, I would have no idea it had happened.)

As I mentioned once in a past post, the internal bleed is the result of the Whipple procedure surgery for pancreatic cancer. Sometimes it manifests as a loose connection where a hose is attached in a new place. In this case, they believe, a vein has narrowed so blood cannot flow properly causing it, the blood, to go to the wrong places. Hence, my low hemoglobin counts and anemia.

They had left it alone until now, I was told, because sometimes they repair themselves.

But not for me. Too bad.

After two or three days of consults among more doctors than I could count – I met at least 25 new medical people – it has been determined that an interventional radiologist (have you ever heard of that medical speciality? I hadn't) and his team will go into my Whipple-rearranged torso, find the damaged vein and insert a stent – not dissimilar to a heart stent – to keep the vein open and working.

This will happen very soon, within a couple of weeks. Unlike the Whipple, from which I have a scar running from just below my heart to my nether regions, this will involve two small holes through my skin each of which will be covered afterwards with a Bandaid, and I will be able to go home the same day.

As with any kind of surgery, there are risks. Infection, in this case, or a clot later at the location of the stent but the the incidence of those is low, they say.

That's the bad news which is not really so bad under the circumstances; they also considered cutting me open down the middle again.

The good news – actually two pieces of good news - is that a CT scan following the endoscopy showed, as another had six or seven weeks ago, no evidence of cancer.

In addition, the interventional radiologist told me that he and the team are taking on this procedure with the same kind of consideration and attention as if I were a patient who had never had cancer.

I cannot get enough of hearing words like these.

Most of the time I was in the hospital was a waiting game – to find out what they would decide to do. Except for two small meals, I wasn't allowed to eat in case they decided on surgery right away and I learned exactly what the relatively new portmanteau word, “hangry” means.

This may sound odd, but this all is a great relief because it is not cancer. It is the result of the surgery meant to rid me of cancer, a mechanical issue, not a disease problem. That is a good thing.

And here's a lovely sad/sweet story the nurses told me about another patient on my ward. A woman who is terminally ill got married while I was there. Earlier in the day, I had seen piles of paper chains (remember those from our childhoods?) that the nurses were making to decorate the patient's room.

Someone brought flowers. A friend of one of the doctors, a professional photographer, donated his services and the woman was married to her fiance in her room among relatives and friends along with the doctors and nurses caring for her.

You're supposed to cry at weddings and I did, bittersweet tears even though I was in my room and didn't hear about it until it was over.

So that's the story of why I was missing for a few days. I'm back now to my regular schedule.


Comments

This sort of thing happens all the time on "The Good Doctor" but things always come out right at the end. You were lucky to be asleep while all that blood was gushing. Most likely the machines were beeping like crazy too. Ignorance sometimes is bliss. Glad you're back home and will be mended up again soon.

Sending you waves of healing vibes. They will fix this!

Great to see you back and to hear that your absence was "relatively" benign. (Easy for me to write, eh?)

"No evidence of cancer" are the sweetest words, Ronni.

Those new medical specialists are working for you.

All systems go on the Ronni Star Enterprise.

Positive vibes rocketing to you from Montreal.


All good. We're relieved as you, I believe, to get the "No worries" signal.

Been holding my breath .... whew! Glad you are back. Surgery's no fun, but I'm glad it's just a mechanical "repair". And it is so wonderful to hear about the consistent excellence of your medical team. You are so fortunate in them! You got this, Ronni. Sending healing vibes...

Cop Car...
It certainly was benign compared to - oh, say the Whipple I had last June. As Cathy noted above, I was dead out asleep during the endoscopy, so I (happily) missed that excitement, there were few, minor after-effects and the worst part was the waiting, waiting, waiting for the doctors to figure out a fix for the bleeding.

What is interesting and important to me about this is that I had no idea if, as I am lucky enough to experience, they find a person to be cancer-free following treatment, there can be other non-cancerous difficulties as a result of the original cancer.

The hard part I'm dealing with right now is to just accept this new wrinkle in my return to an almost normal life and not let it affect my joy at being cancer free. I'm working on that.

I cannot be the first or only person who has faced this development.

You make it sound so easy. I know it is not. That fact that you had that many medical personnel through your room, and probably even more behind the scenes, tells us that this is not a minor detail. I'm glad, though, that you see it as a minor glitch that can be easily dispatched. It is that kind of thinking that has gotten you where you are today.

Such good news! Like Patti, I too was holding my breath. As the recipient of two heart stents, the procedure is quite simple and pain-free. Amazing what they can do today!

The wedding story had me crying also. May the Force be with you.

So happy to hear that your absence was.........well, what it was! Much good, healing energy to you, Ronni.

I bet Ollie was exuberant when you returned! And what a fine outcome after all that renewed scare. So now you have had two rounds of reassurance that cancer is no longer in your system.

This morning, depending on which time zones we all are in, I suspect there were massive instances of Time Goes By people letting out deep, deep breaths of relief and joy.

Welcome home. Welcome back to continuing your steady progression towards recovery.

ruth-ellen

In late January I faced a life-threatening experience & it is only in the past 10 days that I'm beginning to feel close to my "old" old self. LOL. What I do feel is a far cry from the way I felt before that terrible experience.........even broken ribs from CPR!!! That's to say I now feel like my true age of 81! At least that's what my kids & others at this age tell me. No matter what they say I'm still ticked because I know I felt only about 71 before I was almost done in!!! Be well Ronni..........as a retired RN I can tell you that stents are the greatest thing since sliced bread :):)Dee

Big relief to hear from you. Again thanks for keeping us informed.

After all you have been through, will be glad when this hurdle is behind you, too.

And a new word to look up, ha! Portmanteau???? Ha!

Welcome back, Ronnie! Thank you for your detailed explanation. Wishing you all the best for continued healing!

We need you dear, dear Ronni. We need you to hold us together as we make our separate ways through the good and bad days. We need you to send us news from the front; to look up from your own setback and notice the paper chains and wedding celebration. We need you to keep on keeping on. Your writing - always observational, never pedantic - is an inspiration. I echo: May the Force be With You! Love, Ann

So relieved Ronni, so very relieved! Delightful you're yet again cancer free. Wondering from your story are you cell phone-less? One of the parties besides my family who has my cell number is my doctor' office. Sending you love and healing.

Oh, man.
I wish you healing of body and soul. I like your attitude. And the way you tell the story with humor. That makes it easier to picture myself in the same situation. There are some things that are really hard to hear about, without my imagination going wild. Something about your tone makes it easier to keep reading all the way through. I very much appreciate your stories about aging in our society and your unique perspective on issues universal and particular. Keep on trucking, Ronnie.

Thank you.

Ha, Ronni, a red PT Cruiser sounds like just the car I'd have picked for you. Couldn't say why, but it seems so "you."

Sorry you ended up in the hospital again. It seems there's just no end to the hiccups that can occur after cancer and major surgery. But aren't we lucky to live in an age where doctors seem to have a Plan B for every situation. Twenty or even 10 years ago our outcomes might have been much different.

Anywho, welcome back.

When Interesting Stuff did not appear on Saturday I got worried about you, Ronni.

Then I thought perhaps I missed a reason for that on your last Cannabis part 2 long post as I did not read it all. I was very happy this morning to read about your recent "vacation" of 4 days. ....and glad the medical team found the problem and plan to remedy it.

I knew more of us readers would be contacting you so did not attempt it....be well. Will be sending healing thoughts your way for the next weeks until you are safely stented and mended. XO hugs

Yeah, but I bet your hair looked fabulous! No cancer is a wonderful thing, and I'm happy for that. Wishing you well.

Wow, so glad to hear that your bleeding can be fixed! And I missed you!

Last night I attended the last night of Phoenix Film Festival (awesome event 10 days long) and saw RBG, a new film about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I had not known that she is a survivor of both colorectal cancer (same year I had it) and pancreatic cancer! Thought of you and your earlier comments about her exercise routine being similar to yours. What a woman!

Looks like you have had a few exciting days recently. You must know the layout of that hospital pretty well now!

Glad you're back, Ronni, and with the prospect of having this pesky, persistent problem corrected.

And as Ruth-Ellen B. Joeres said above: " This morning, depending on which time zones we all are in, I suspect there were massive instances of Time Goes By people letting out deep, deep breaths of relief and joy."

Yup, I'm one of them.
:)

I was worried about your absence but held back on the email. I knew you would let us know what was up eventually. So glad it was mechanical.

Dear Ronni,
Why am I not surprised that you drive a RED ! PT Cruiser.
I love you. I just had to get this out there. I think you are one amazing woman. I just love how you write, totally engaging, with humor, and I'm always learning from you - whether it's a lesson in resiliency, or the use of a word. So I just looked up "Portmanteau" and in that small exercise, learned some interesting things which I'm passing on to Ronni's Coffee Club . I knew it was a trunk of sorts, but I did not know the second definition:
1. a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts.
2.a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).
"podcast is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words iPod and broadcast".
I like everyone else am relieved that you are "back". I'm glad this intervention is mechanical and will be an easy fix. Thinking of you as always, and wishing you well.
Hugs,
Lynn

Glad to hear you're back home, Ronni. It all sounds a bit grueling but your attitude is wonderful.

One more rung on your ladder of experience though, i’m sure you would not mind in the least skipping this one. Life has a way of introducing some events we would not choose, seems. Glad this latest escapade went as well as it did and they get this leaky blood issue resolved soon, once and for all. Continuing positive well wishes coming your way.

I will add my congratulations. No cancer. Yes, I too am so glad things went so well. Hugs from here.

Oh dear! Sometimes it feels like it's just one thing after another, doesn't it? You are a wonderful woman to always look on the bright side like hearing those magical words, "No Cancer".

I am glad that they are able to fix this leaking problem with a stent done with those super cameras that are the least invasive way. Out patient surgery is becoming more common and we are all thankful that this is the case for you.

Stay strong, lovely lady.

Well, damn. A vascular fender-bender.

And, apparently, this is a known possibility with the Whipple, so they're probably not astonished AND they know how to fix it and they're doing it! These guys do know what they're doing. And so do you. Brava, sez I, and I expect you to be getting a lot more pizzazzy haircuts and fun lunches with the stylist!

Thanks for catching us up--very glad you're back.

Glad you are Okay and while somewhat scary - sounds like it was all good news.

Take care of yourself.

Irwin

You must many promises to God!
Fred Fenork

Glad to hear the bleeding can be addressed. Hang in there and hope the mend goes well.

Wow, all these people worried about you. And now we can breathe again.

900 emails! You are loved:)

Oh, Terry, the vast majority are catalogs, bills, political begging letters, subscriptions, etc. Personal notes are few but it still takes forever to plow through everything so that I don't miss stuff I need to have. Oy.

Congrats on another ‘cancer-free’ test! Such wonderful news! Glad to have you back in the saddle!

Old age: isn't it fun? Well, actually, it isn't. No life-threatening issues here yet (lucky me, I suppose) but just got over diverticulitis. Why can't humans just stay healthy up until they keel over? It is what it is. . .

Welcome back. Hope the "fix-it" surgery is quick and easy.

Some gals have all the luck
Some gals have all the pain
Some gals get all the breaks...(thank you, Peter, for the Rod Stewart earworms)

Four Days in the Hospital sung to the tune of 6 Days on the Road and I'm gonna Make It Home Tonight!

Glad everything is working out ok, and the procedure will be a breeze. You got this. And we got you!

Welcome back Ronni. Your indefatigable persistence is at the ready whenever you seem to need it. Someday, you will be able to take a well deserved break! I'm sure it helps every time you hear those wonderful words that there is no cancer.

The wedding story made me cry too. A lot of things seem to do that the older I get. I wonder why? Is it because we have less control of our emotions, or a change in perspective that makes it clear what really matters?

Good luck with your upcoming procedure. That will be nice to get that behind you!

Such a relief! Thanks for letting us know and indeed I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the next procedure.

So glad to hear most of this. Lucky for me, I’ve been away from blog land so didn’t know to be worried. Yay for stents — my understing is that they’re not such a big deal. What a sweet and sad wedding story. I think more tears with age come with a change of perspective, certainly not lack of control.

Dear Ronni, as I age I find myself more and more in awe of the human body--its beauty and its complexity and also in awe of what medical professionals can do to help that body heal and thrive. It's good to have you back. Peace.

Oh my friend -- been in a loop lately that didn't involve visiting here and I come back to this. Apparently what it is like to get older is that maintenance becomes more and more arduous. So wonderful that there's no cancer and they can treat this as just (invasive!) maintenance. Take care of yourself!

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