Monday, October 3, 2011

Goodbye again, Colorado! Day 2.

On Wednesday, I woke up around 8am and decided to take a shower. I turned on the water, adjusted the temperature, and commenced to showering. After about 2 minutes, I noticed that the shower wasn't draining as well as it should, so I kicked at the drain stopper, thinking it must have been down. When I did so, I thought I noticed some orange spots in the water. I can't see anything but colored blurs without my glasses, but after a second the orange went away, but the water still wasn't draining. I washed my face and as I pulled my hand away, I noticed that my hand was completely covered in blood.

My first thought was that I must have hit my face on something and cut it, but I couldn't recall doing so, and my face felt fine. I finally realize that my nose is bleeding. A lot. Meanwhile, the tub isn't draining, and there's blood all over the water, and the towel, and my hand, and my face, and it looks like someone died in the bathroom.

My second thought was, I have to give a whole lot of blood today, and I can't spare any, so I have to get this to stop. So I stuff some Kleenex up my nose and search for "how to stop a nosebleed" on my phone. I learn that nosebleeds can occur in higher elevations, and to stop it I have to squeeze my nostrils together for 5 minutes. That did the trick, but the bathroom was still a crime scene. Even after 20 minutes, the water still hadn't drained completely.

This was how I started off on the day of my physical.

After we cleaned up as best we could, we headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. It was your standard hotel breakfast buffet, with greasy omelettes and strange-tasting pancakes, and it would have been passable for free. However, we paid $12 a person for this because we were hungry and there was no where else to go. Not a good deal. Even the coffee didn't cut it, so we walked across the street to a Target that thankfully had a Starbucks inside. Suitably caffeinated, we bought a couple of bottles of water and headed back to the hotel to rest until it was time to head to the hospital for my physical.

I drank two of these in two hours before we arrived at the hospital. I don't recommend doing that on a regular basis.

When we arrived at the hospital, we went to a place called the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. The staff was really nice and helpful, and I was introduced to Betsy, the person who works most with Be The Match at the facility. I also met another coordinator named Rebecca, and several really nice nurses and doctors. I had to fill out a little paperwork before things got going:

Note: my hair looks especially awesome in this photo because I didn't get to wash it thanks to the Great Nosebleed Disaster of 2011.

Once all the paperwork was in order, I had to get lots of blood drawn. First, they took my blood pressure, then prepared to suck my blood. Here's the pile of stuff for that before they started that process:

All the water helped a great deal, although I was left with a little bit bigger bruise (i.e. a bruise at all) than last time. Also, the nurse said that my vein, while big, was "insubstantial," meaning it was sort of shallow and she had to be careful. However, the actual blood draw didn't hurt and in the end it took about 5 minutes to get all this blood:

It looks like a lot, but the nurse assured me I still had plenty left in my body. Although I wasn't so sure, what with the preceding nosebleed and all. But I felt fine, if not just a tiny bit weak. Nothing that a Bit O' Honey candy, courtesy of the front-desk candy dish couldn't resolve.

After the blood draw, they took my height and weight, asked for a urine sample (another thing made easier with the ingestion of about a gallon of water) then led me to an exam room for my EKG. I'd never had an EKG before, so I didn't really know what to expect. It was an incredibly simple process. First, the nurse stuck these little "leads" about the size of a quarter on me - one on each calf, one on each upper arm, one on the right side of my chest and five on the left side of my chest. Then she clipped these cables that were attached to what looked like a small dot-matrix printer on a rolling card to each lead. She flipped a switch on the cart-thingie, told me to take a couple of deep breaths, then said my EKG looked great and removed the cables and sticky leads. Easy peasy! I could see where someone with lots of body hair would have a harder time with this than I did. Sorry, men (and hairy ladies)!

After the EKG, a doctor came into the room and asked about my health history. He talked to me about the PBSC collection process, the fact that some donors have to get a central line put in their neck if their veins aren't able to support the traditional apheresis procedure, and gave me some tips for dealing with the eventual bone pain and other side effects that could be caused by the filgrastim injections. He spent about 10 minutes talking to me and making sure I didn't have any questions before releasing me to get a chest x-ray.

For the x-ray we headed to the main part of the hospital. We had to meet with hospital Admitting, fill out a little bit more paperwork, then they took me to get the x-ray. Then that was it. It took about 2 1/2 hours from the time I arrived at the hospital at 12:45 until I was done with my chest x-ray and ready to leave.

The hotel shuttle picked us up, took us back to the hotel and we immediately jumped into another fancy Lincoln for the trip back to the Denver airport.

It took about 30 minutes to get through security (compared to about a minute and a half to get through security at KCI) and once through, we had some Wolfgang Puck pizza for dinner before boarding another plane for the return trip home.

The following day I had to go to Columbia, Missouri for training, so by the time Friday rolled around, I was pretty-well done for. Thankfully, Frank and I had reservations for dinner at Michael Smith Restaurant, and it was just what the doctor ordered. A great dinner, followed by a relatively quiet weekend at home. Lovely.

Paulette is already making arrangements for my return trip later this month. Frank and I are planning on driving so we can do some Colorado sight-seeing (provided I'm feeling up to it). I've got a break from donation stuff until the middle of next week, when I have to get some more tests. Then, if all proceeds as expected, I'll get my first injection on Friday, October 14th.

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