Yesterday we acquired a new symptom we’d never had to play with before – diarrhea. Further complicating the particularly unpleasant situation was MD Anderson’s processes and procedures that A) created more than a two hour delay between the onset and treatment, and B) required us to save the, uhm, “output” in a small tub for subsequent examination and testing by the nurse.
More than two hours. That’s how long it took to get treatment for the diarrhea. The culprit, according to our nurse yesterday, is MD Anderson’s process and procedures for authorizing all patient medications. Maybe it was some fancy diarrhea medicine only available at the highly-acclaimed MD Anderson facilities, proven to stop the misery faster and provide fewer side effects while contributing less to global warming than any other treatment ever known to mankind. No. It was Imodium. Over-the-counter Imodium, the kind I could buy down in the gift shop, which I would have done had I known it would take more than two hours to get it from the nurse.
Call us crazy if you want but Maggie and I firmly believe there are a few stock items that any well-managed oncology ward should have always within arm’s reach and should be handed out like candy, if needed. Note the use of the word “immediately” in the following:
1) Bags into which puke can be placed immediately upon exiting the mouth
2) Various nausea medicines that can be immediately placed in a myriad of orifices
3) Various diarrhea medicines that can be immediately placed in a myriad of orifices
Remarkably, we’ve come to learn that our thinking on this topic is, uh, progressive.
The room we are temporarily living in is definitely bigger than our room at Seton. But it’s not near, near big enough to share with a tub of liquid poo. Not for any length of time, especially not for more than an hour. Unpleasant isn’t quite the right description for the experience. Fortunately, the bathroom exhaust works otherwise I’m not sure how we would have coped. But we did. We always do. (In my mind during the siege I was picturing the little stink molecules racing outward from the tub, fighting against the negative air pressure created by the bathroom vent. Fighting and winning.)
The poo in the tub was for an excrement examination to check for blood and, unfortunately, they found some. Additionally, sometime around Sunday evening Maggie’s stomach started bloating. It doesn’t hurt but it’s causing some discomfort, both physically and emotionally. Using her own words, it looks like she’s pregnant and her belly button is about to pop out.
After calling the bloating issue to the attention of anyone within earshot, the admitting doctor that appears to be in charge of things scheduled a visit from a GI doctor. He was a funny man (“raised eye-brow” funny, not “ha-ha” funny) who never let us finish a sentence. He questioned Maggie on her original diagnosis and current issues and then signed us up for some type of examination of the exit area, the specifics of which are to be determined but may or may not include several enemas and Golytely (pronounced “go lightly”), the gastro-intestinal equivalent of Liquid Plumber (there’s nothing “light” about its effects.) As of now she’s off the solid foods in anticipation of tomorrow’s appointment. Don’t know when, though, but we are hoping for early rather than later. Before this turn of events we were cleared to head home tomorrow. Despite the disappointment, it will be good to take a peak up the poop chute to make sure everything is as it should be with no new nasties creeping about. After all, that is where this all started in the first place. Maybe if we can get this completed early and they find nothing of interest we can still be snuggling the puppies in our own bed tomorrow night.
Over the last few days we’ve been visited by no less than ten social workers, clergy, and hospital volunteers offering services and “to talk.” Apparently, some of the nursing or other staff have anonymously flagged our record as “in need of counseling.” Maggie is annoyed whereas I’m inclined to think of it as a sweet gesture of thoughtfulness. We are both, however, curious as to what behaviors we are manifesting (or maybe NOT manifesting) that others feel that we should. Regardless, we told the nice social worker today that we are, in fact, just fine despite wide-spread suspicions otherwise and that if someone in the hospital was having issues with our behavior they are welcome to come talk to us about their feelings. Maggie is a counselor by way of both her degree in social work and in law and me, well, I’m more like Lucy from Peanuts except I’ll charge more than $0.05 for advice. Either way, could they _please_ uncheck the little box that says we are in need of “services”?
So we sit. And wait.