Thursday, November 22, 2007

Peritoneal Dialysis Training Unit

As always with a new place, I had to get lost once or twice, and I went right past the entrance, but I still managed to get there by 7am sharp. I went in, and as soon as I gave the receptionist my name, out came all the nurses in the unit - "Oh, so YOU are the poor dear - we all felt so bad that we just couldn't help you at all when you called that first time". As luck would have it, the brusque nurse who caught my first call was the one doing the flush. She kept saying "you would have been fine with a flush next week!" So anyway, she added another length of tubing to my catheter, and gave me a big fat book (basically, the course-ware for the "dialysis training" session). We were done with the flush by 9am and out the door shortly after.

A flush is basically a mini-dialysis session, but the difference is that they only leave the fluid in for about 5 minutes (the procedure is to drain any fluid from the belly, let in about a quarter of the dialysis bag, let it out, rinse and repeat until the fill bag is empty, and the drain bag is full.) With each drain, I kept feeling tireder and sleepier, which I initially thought was because of my lack of sleep; but by the time she finally drained the fluid, I got extremely woozy (which got my mom extremely worried), to the point that I could not even stand without support - but that passed in a matter of minutes. The nurse didn't seem to be worried about that at all, so I decided not to be worried either.

I made an appointment for the next flush a week from then, and walked out a happy camper - at least I knew that the catheter was OK, and I had my bag of supplies in hand to change my dressing every day. Oh did I forget to say - the PD nurse removed the original dressing, applied another while showing me how to every step of the way, and handed me that box of supplies, along with instructions to call my nephrologist and get a prescription antibiotic cream. As soon as we got back to the car, my mom and I fell on our packed breakfasts (yummm... idli and molagapodi)and polished them off before we tried to leave.

I came home, sat back down to work for a few hours - at home, I work in the living room, sitting comfortably in my recliner, with light-weight stools around to hold the laptop, my phone, a bottle of water, maybe a little something for me to snack on,etc. I also have my handbag and laptop bag within easy reach, sitting down. So anyway, I looked up from work, set the laptop aside because Amma had been calling me quite a few times to come sit down for dinner. Soon's I stood up, I felt a cold chill in the general vicinity of the surgical incisions - sure enough, my dress felt a little damp in the general abdominal region. I put it down to sweating from the heat of the laptop.

Come the weekend, I was still feeling damp every time I sat down for a longish bit,so finally Sunday evening, I called the PD unit - the nurse on call was very nice and gentle. I told her about the leaking, and also mentioned that I wasn't in any pain or seeing any signs of infection. She told me to call the PD unit again the next morning (Monday, in case any one's lost track) and talk to the nurses again. I promptly offered to be AT the PD unit at 7am Monday, when they opened. She sounded a bit dubious about that, but agreed that it might be a good thing for me to do so. So when I got there that morning, I totally didn't expect the slightly amused look on every nurse's face. The first available nurse sat me down, took a look at my dressing and said, "oh yeah, that flush last week was definitely too soon - your catheter incision hasn't healed as much as it should. There's no way we are going to be able to start your training next week!" At which I totally panicked (yes,AGAIN), because I was going to be in NY! With my family! My sister and b-i-l are flying in! So they said, OK - we'll start the week after. That should give the incision time to heal better.

I was scheduled to see the surgeon for my follow-up that week, as well. When I mentioned the leaking to her (of course, it had stopped by Monday morning when I got to the PD unit), she was a bit concerned, and insisted that I come see her as soon as I got back from vacation. Then I was free to go - this had been a very short, flying visit - I was in and out in less than half an hour. Needless to say,my appointment at the PD unit to flush the catheter that week was cancelled. I was told to get an appointment at the PD unit for the week after my vacation. And I duly did.
Thursday of that week (I was scheduled to fly out to NY on Saturday), I got a call from the PD unit that my training had been scheduled for the week after - I was to show up at the unit from Tuesday to Friday, for 5-6 hours a day. Panic mode, again,"Omigod - 4-5 days, 5-6 hours a day?!! In succession?!! I can't possibly disappear from work for YET another week, right after my vacation - I need to keep my job!"

So the scheduling nurse said "OK, someone from the unit will contact you again later".Later was Friday afternoon - the first nurse (the not so bad one from earlier) called,sounding faintly irritated by my rescheduling request. We rescheduled for the week after, and everything was hunky dory. Well, I still had to tell my project manager, CMR, that I was going to have to disappear for that week of training.

Needless to say, CMR was NOT pleased. We worked out that the best way to work around this was for me to go to the training in the morning, but since I would be out of training by about 2pm, I should work from home, covering the project, from 3pm until at least 7pm. This was not going to be easy. In CMR's defense, I have to say that she had been very understanding about my doctor visits and strange schedules for a whole year before that. This was truly a case of immovable object meets irresistible force (project schedule vs. keep-me-alive schedule). Did I also mention that CMR is my BFF - best friend forever - to borrow a term from the revolting Paris Hilton? We just "clicked" from day one that she joined the project, so much so that another guy who joined the same as she did actually complained that I liked her better than him!I didn't know anyone bothered about that kind of stuff after middle-school. Needless to say, we ignored him :)

But this is the PD story.

One week later, after a good trip to NY, I showed up at the surgeon's office for my appointment. And waited. And waited. This WOULD be the day I forgot to bring a book to read. After about 45 minutes of this, I gave in and called my PM - told her I'd be even later than expected (and felt the ice crackling in my ear - I hadn't even been to work yet after vacation, even though I'd looked at email from home that morning).Finally, the surgeon whizzed in, took a look at the various incisions, whizzed right back out - all in less than 5 minutes, and told me that everything looked good, but she'd leave the stitches in for a just a bit longer (the nurses at the PD unit would take them out). So off I toddled to work - this time the doctor's office visit had taken almost 90 minutes.

Two days later, Wednesday at 8am, I was at the PD unit for another flush - this time there were no issues, and they finished off the flush in a very short time. Fortunately there were no issues with the catheter. I innocently mentioned to the nurses that the doctor said the PD nurse would remove the stitches. And before I could say anything more, they snipped off the stitch! I'd wanted to add - the surgeon said I'd better keep it in until I start the PD training. Oh well, what the hell. *shrug*

Dropped Amma off at home, and headed to work -I was at work by 10:30am, which isn't bad, considering the long distances involved.


Teesu said...

How soon can your mom get back to you? Sounds like that is the least that better happen soon.

Shyam said...

June 2008. That's the soonest. Ams will be counting down the seconds, I bet.

Radha said...

So will I, Shyam. So will I!

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