Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hospital bound..

It is 7:30 am and Zack, Frank and myself are running around the house, each with their own purpose. Frank, getting everything set for a full day of work, me making sure we are ready for the five day hospital stay, and Zack is gathering his x-box, mp3 and canvas backpack filled with clothes. As I am running around the house making sure the dish washer is emptied , trash put out (Zack claimed I was getting every little ounce of work out of him before he leaves... true!!!) and laundry folded and put away, I am thinking back to September 29, 1995, when Frank and I were rushing around making sure everything was in order as we were heading out the door to welcome Zack into the world. What can I say, I like things to be in order! Zack grabs me by the arms and says "Mom, CHILL!!"  You are running around like a crazy woman. I slow down "a bit", thinking our appointment isn't until 10:30, only to find out later it was at 9:30 am (oops!!). We finish loading the car and are on the road.

We arrive at the clinic ready to start the next chapter. Zack's mood is quite good. He is ready to get into the hospital and get going. We are escorted to a room and  in walks Julia (the same nurse that had a hard time inserting the iv into the port the last time). Zack looks at me nervously. I can tell he doesn't want her to do this, but I think about my friend Melanie and how she had to learn, if she didn't have anyone to teach her, and no one to "practice" on, how would she know what to do? I quickly remind Julia that she is to use a 1 inch needle, she is calmer today than last week, she say "yes, I have it right here", she then looks at Zack and taking her time, locates the port, without warning she inserts the needle, Zack flinches and looks at me with his eyes open wide. I ask if he is okay? He says "yea, I just wasn't ready for the needle. I need to be warned about the needle being inserted". We will remember this for next time. He already doesn't need to put on numbing cream ,which is pretty tough.  Julia then looks at Zack and tells him she remembers to put the saline solution in slowly as well (last week he got sick immediately when she did it too fast). Zack has become a strong advocate for himself, a lesson we taught him early on.

They take blood  to see what his white blood count is. He is hooked up to fluids to ensure he is well hydrated for his treatment. Dr. Beatty comes in to check on Zack and is charming as ever. He likes to joke with Zack about the hair coming in red with curls, or really blonde. He sees that Zack has shaved his head and says it is a good look for him.  The nurses tell him that they think "men" are sexy without hair, he of course tells them of my love affair with Vin Diesel. They all agree with my assessment of the actor. Julia comes in and tells us all of his "counts" are really good. They can't believe how much is white blood count jumped up, so we are good to go as soon as they have a room ready for us at the hospital. She tells us it will be a little longer ( it is now 12 Noon), as the hospital has a couple of people leaving today and then they will have a room for him. It's sad to think that the pediatrics oncology unit is so busy. I run downstairs and get some snacks. Luckily they have healthy ones like nuts, dried fruit and hummus with pretzels, unlike at the Hospital where you find Twinkies, pop tarts and chocolate donuts. Since this is our new routine I have made a conscious decision to eat healthier,  it could be so easy to hit the sweet isle, but I know that won't do any of us any good. Just as we get settled in and  Zack is half asleep, we get the news ( it is now 2 pm), our room is ready. We say our goodbyes, "till next week for our follow up" and hop in the car to drive across the street to Mission Hospital .

We follow the directions to our new location and when it comes to parking, we stop and ask a parking guard where we park for pediatrics, she leans into the car and starts to give us directions when all of a sudden she jumps back and says.. rather loudly... "PEDIATRICS??? HOW OLD ARE YOU!!! OH LORD!!",  Zack and I laugh, he answers "17 next month", she stumbles on her words and can not talk, we laugh a bit more as she points to a parking area and we drive off. As we enter the hospital with all of our belongings we are winding down one hall, around the corner, to the left, then up to the third floor to locate pediatrics. We see a sign for ICU and one for Heart patients, it is confusing which door we are supposed to go in. A young man stops us in the hall and offers directions. We walk through double automatic doors, you must press a button, then look into a camera before the nurses will let you in ( at least I know Zack will be safe... LOL). We are greeted by a nurse who tells us our room is at the end of the long hall. The hall is filled with colorful artwork and the ceiling tiles are art from the children. There are a row of "funny" mirror which make you look like all shapes and sizes, a WII game system is in the hall on rollers for the children to bring into their rooms to play. There is a parent "closet" consisting of a coffee / espresso machine, microwave and small refrigerator and sink. The room is a nice size, with a long counter full of empty cabinets and drawers at our disposal. There is a small closet, a good size bathroom with a shower and tub, your average hospital bed, love seat that converts into a bed and an upholstered rocking chair. The large window overlooks the roof, so not much of a view, but at this point a large room is more welcome than a view.

The first thing that gets unpacked and hooked up is Zack's new X-box. He is nervous and by playing his game finds it more relaxing.  The new nurse enters the room welcoming us. She is very sweet, has been here for two years, but has worked in other areas in this field for seven years. He immediately gets more fluids and within an hour is started on his treatment. Zack is busy playing the game while he is hooked up to everything,he  is weighed, blood pressure checked, temperature. We are told that he will not have such a bad reaction to this treatment and we pray they are right. The nurse asks about the anti nausea medicine Kytril that he was supposed to get at the pharmacy. He tells them "oh no.. I didn't get that! at $200 for seven pills!!! No way" She can't believe the cost and says they will see what they can do to get him something to take home. Of course I tell her "if that's what he needs, we will get it for him!" "He argues, NO!!!!" .. I drop it for now, we will be here five days and they will take care of all of the meds while in here.

It is now 5:15pm  and Rhonda calls. Zack and I already discussed me having dinner with her. He wants some time alone and they are bringing his dinner to him any minute. I decide to go to Walmart to get him some snacks and drinks for the next couple of days, he has found another game for his system so I am also on a mission for that. Rhonda agrees to meet me at Cheddars (like Ruby Tuesday or Kelsey's.) We catch up on the days events, I realize I can't relax.. "how can I be here when he is in the hospital?" Rhonda asks if I want to go back and bring the food with me, "I say, NO, Zack wants some time alone, he isn't used to everyone being around him so much, it's just hard not to be with him every minute right now",  I eat slower and relax more. We leave after about an hour and as we are headed to my car a man comes stumbling towards me, holding a "drink" in one hand and cigarette in the other. He asks if I have a light, I say "no, I don't smoke".. he answers back (sorry, his words not mine) "YOU LESBIAN C#&*!".. I look at him and tell Rhonda to get in the car as he walks towards me.. I am pissed!!! "You don't talk that way to ANYONE and haven't you ever seen two SISTERS together??? you better get the hell away from me!" He is running around the parking lot telling everyone that I'm a lesbian with an attitude and they better watch out. At this point I don't know whether to laugh , cry or punch the guy. I get out of my car, tell Rhonda to stay in the car with doors locked, walk right past him angrier than before and he starts to walk away from me saying "I'm sorry Mam, I didn't mean to be rude, I just needed a light". I think he thought I was going to kick his ass. In reality I walked right past him, went into the restaurant and told the hostess that she better call security. By the time I come out he is stumbling across the parking lot away from the restaurant. I get in my car, drive past him (the only way out) and he is hollering something else at me.

We go to Walmart (not one of my favorite locations) and find snacks, a little accent lamp for the fluorescent filled room, Zack's new game and a pair of Carolina Blue slippers for Frank and I to share when staying there. As soon as we return, Zack has handed over his camouflage clogs and taken the Carolina slippers. He is doing really well as the treatment continues to drip into his system. He of course is still playing his game and is visiting with Karen ( the social worker from the cancer center). She came over to make sure we had everything we need. The care that Zack (and we) are receiving is wonderful. There have been a couple of glitches along the way, but that is part of the human equation. I fixed up the room with the lamp, snacks in one drawer, drinks and cups on the counter in a neat little corner. I hang up his shirts with hangers just purchased and re- arrange the love seat  where the chair was and the chair in its new position. Rhonda looks at me and tells Karen that I am nesting.  Karen tells us we can do anything we want to the room.  Rhonda mentions the need for artwork and Karen tells us we can cover 20%  of the walls. Something about fire safety. We laugh !

Rhonda is exhausted, it has been a long week for her as well. I send her home, she keeps wanting to return with pillows and her down blanket, but I am firm and tell her we are fine, go..... rest....  When I return to the room after escorting her to door, Zack is finishing up his treatment. I give him a "game off" curfew of 10 pm and as soon as the game is off, he starts to feel bad. He is given some benedryl and falls asleep.

It was a good day. He is glad he is alone tomorrow to rest and play his game. He has been promised visits from friends and family throughout the week. Frank will be with him tomorrow night and I will be home trying to give up control. We know how easy that is for me.....  HUGS !!!

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