(Just a note before we start: some of the medical technology has changed. So you know, don’t go that’s not how these things work!)
Back in the day, I did a lot of home IVs. Basically, it’s IV meds you give at home, so I didn’t have to be stuck in the hospital for 2-3 weeks and could go to school and have a life. But that also meant that sometimes, there was a learning curve.
IVs have to be kept sterile—you can’t get them wet, you have to protect them. Now, when I first did home IVs, I would climb trees with an IV, but you know, I was young! :)
Anyway one time, the cap—the thing that protects the end of the IV line—got stuck. We couldn’t get it unattached, and this was bad, because then we couldn’t give the meds I needed.
So dad decided the best way to fix this was….with a pair of pliers. From his tool box. Grimy, gritty, dirty pliers. On a sterile IV line.
He came into my room with the pliers and I backed myself into a corner like a freaked out animal. “GET AWAY FROM ME!”
”What? We have to get the cap off!”
”At least clean them first! Use the alcohol wipes!”
(Fortunately, we could replace the tubing bit. We didn’t have to resort to the pliers.)
The night before my algebra II final my junior year, I woke up in the middle of the night. No, not because of Law of Cosine nightmares. I felt something wet.
I rolled over and saw that the sleeve of the t-shirt I slept in was bloody. Like, soaking with blood.
At the time, I had a PICC line in (peripherally inserted central catheter—basically a line that wasn’t under my skin, like my port is now, but went into a deep vein, so if we had problems with this, they became large problems.)
I ran into mom and dad’s room. “I’m bleeding.” Mom grabbed a towel and we went back to my room, applying pressure. Dad stumbled in with the cordless phone (this was 1999).
We called the direct line to Children’s and were put on hold while we waited for someone to answer our question. Were we going to have to go to the hospital? Was this really bad?
It’s around 2 AM, the lights are on in the hallway, and my brother and sister are standing in the doorway. Mom and Dad are arguing—what should we do? Should we do this? Should we do that?
At some point, Mom calls my dad something not nice.
And then we hear, “hello?”
We hadn’t muted the phone. The person on the other end had heard the entire argument.
Sometimes, though, it was a little funnier. Like the time Mel and I decided to use unused saline (salt water) syringes as squirt guns and pelt my brother with them. “Stop it! You’re going to kill me! What is that stuff?!”
You know that you’ve passed the point of a normal family when going to the ER in the middle of the Super Bowl—which your favorite team is in—isn’t really cause for angst. The Steelers were playing the Packers in Super Bowl 45, and I started to get the lovely feeling of heart arrythmia.
“We have to go to the hospital,” I told my mom during the first quarter.
At halftime, we went. We went to the special area of the ER, doctors buzzing around me, the normal stuff happening. Dad is on his phone checking the score.
“We’re going to lose,” he mutters from the corner.
We did lose. But we got to watch the Puppy Bowl in the ICU!
Right before my transplant, my doctors were pulling every medical rabbit out of the hat to keep me alive. We were trying every drug we could think of, anything to keep me stable. Forget about improvement, we just didn’t want to get worse.
One of those drugs (another IV med) had to be constituted by us, meaning that it came as a powder, and we had to add the saline. This was rather difficult for some reason, because the force needed to get the saline out of the bottle, into the syringe, and then the saline IN to the med, was quite a bit. WE had jerry rigged some contraption onto the kitchen cabinets to try to give my dad and brother more leverage, because they were the only ones that could do this.
So I came home from work (granted, work was mostly just sitting at my desk—I really couldn’t do a whole lot at this point) and find my brother mixing the 3:00 med dose. I put down my bag
I look up. Bryan is holding the syringe, dumbfounded. The glass bottle had exploded all over the floor from the force of the saline trying to go into it.
All I could do was laugh.
This one has entered family lore:
I had pancreatitis—well, I had pancreatitis a lot. It wasn’t one of those things where I had to get to the ER toute de suite, but I was in a lot of pain.
Dad and I were in the car and stopped at the stoplight at the end of our road. One car was in front of us. We wanted to turn right, but this guy either wanted to go straight or was waiting for an invitation to turn (you know those people).
Dad revs the engine, and jumps the curb. Seriously. Drove the car right over the curb, scraping the bottom of the Accord, a tremendous nails on the blackboard sound.
Now whenever we’re behind someone in that situation, I always tell dad that he can feel free to jump the curb.
OK this last story is me.
The Resort (my normal hospital) is a teaching hospital. So sometimes when you get admitted from the ER, you have to go through the special hell of having some resident take your history. I don’t know what this resident had done to get me, but whatever. Poor guy.
Anyway, I was tired, I was drugged up, and I really didn’t want to be doing this. Plus, when I’m sick, my hearing goes out the window. I can’t concentrate. So I was just nodded and “yup”ing and all sorts of things to get this guy out of here.
Dad, of course, couldn’t be present for this because you know, I might talk about sex. So he was in the hall with his free coffee.
The medical student asked me a question. I said, yup. He said, how often. I said, oh, twice a day. I mean, I thought he was asking about meds.
He looks at me, shocked. Deer in the headlights.
“I’m sorry, what did you ask me?”
He turns bright red and mutters, “I was asking if you were sexually active.”
“Well, then, um, nope. Sorry. Never. Wow. Yeah.”
I figure that’s a good way to end, don’t you? :)