Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Abdominal port out, a unit of blood in


To continue on the sea voyage metaphor, the going has been a little rough the past few days.  As Gabrielle mentioned, over the weekend, she got word that the abdominal port was infected and needed to come out [aside…this “port” is not the left or larboard side of a boat, nor is it a safe haven from a storm, but rather the access part for the drugs…oh to have that safe harbor about now].  I was reminded of that silly song about Port Out, Starboard Home..P-O-S-H from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Supposedly it speaks of the origins of the word posh, but it is indeed a mystery to me why so many people on that boat would need to have their abdominal ports out.  Though Gabrielle indeed was sitting on the starboard on the way home.  So here's to port out, starboard home for Gabrielle!

She went in yesterday and had the pesky piece of hardware removed.  She needed to go to the operating room (OR in Grey’s Anatomy speak) but didn’t need to be knocked out, just had some sedation.  Dr. M. said it was indeed infected and was glad that she had had the port cultured a second time just make sure that she wasn’t missing anything.  I am reminded of a line from a Sherlock Holmes story I recently read.  Sherlock finds a telltale clue in the midst of a field and holds it up to all astonished observers.  They wondered why they had missed it and he had found it.  He retorted that you have to really look for something.  That’s what Dr. M. did…she really looked for that infection a second time and we are glad she did.  She’s thorough.

Sadly, in the midst of her visit to have the port taken out, they did another blood test and Gabrielle’s red cells had dropped another point to 26 (normal being 34 to about 46) which means she’s on the books for a blood transfusion today.  She’ll get one unit which should bump her number up about three or four points.  On the one hand it was quite discouraging…first the port, then the transfusion.  We had really been hoping for some smooth sailing during these couple of single drug treatment weeks.  Not so.  But on the other hand, we are trying to stay positive.  Perhaps the infected port was in some way responsible for Gabrielle’s abdominal pain.  We are hoping that this will improve as the residual infection clears up…no word on that yet from the pretty Missus as she is still in her bunk below deck (OK, she’s above deck, but below deck is where most sailors sleep, so give me a little license here…at least she’s got better digs than the poor sap who wrote Two Years Before the Mast…before the mast was where you didn’t want to be…no turn down service, no chocolates on the bed, no drawn bath each night).  The other bit of hopefulness is that when she gets a transfusion, maybe she will have a little more energy.  She has been completely drained and enervated during this entire weekend.  Feels faint when she stands up or walks from the living room to the family room.  Want to see a little more spring in her step.  Why not?  Isn’t blood doping all the rage amongst certain performance athletes who have bent the rules?  Look how well some of them did…till they got caught. 

So, prayers for today would be for Gabrielle to have improved abdominal pain and more energy after the transfusion.  It is especially important for the energy to pick up.  After all, it is garbage day today and it just breaks my heart to see her crawl up on the garbage and jump up and down on it before hauling it out to the street.  Last week was especially tough, what with dry heaving and all and the rain coming down so hard.  So tough, in fact, that I almost put my afternoon tea down and threw open the window to tell her to do it in two trips…now that’s serious.

And that’s all the news so far on the Gabrielle front.  One quick follow up story on me.  For some reason, people have been loving my buzz cut.  Patients glance at me and get these odd looks on their faces, not sure if they should laugh, cry or ask if I have joined the Marines.  A couple of people have wanted to rub my new “doo”.  I recall a picture of some little visitor to the Oval Office a year or two back.  President Obama was a good sport and bent over to let the little nipper feel his hair.  I haven’t been as magnanimous as the president, however as I have been charging folks for the privilege…25 cents.  Made 50 cents so far!  Andrea, our receptionist, asked if it was for a single time or all day.  I felt generous so said “all day” and she made full use of her quarter.  Every time she came back to drop off a chart or pester me in some other way, she extracted a little more value from her quarter. 

I feel a little bad, however, that this new opportunity to feel the doo is limited to those who are actually physically in my presence and have decided to extend this offer to those far and wide…even worldwide, if the info on this blog counter is correct.  For a limited time offer, I am opening up this rare chance to all comers for the value price of…not a quarter…not even fifteen cents…but for one thin dime!  You heard me right…a dime!  What else can you buy with a dime?  That and a buck and a half will get you a cuppa Joe in town.  Here’s what you do:  scroll back to that picture of me a couple blogs back and rub my hair to your heart’s content…all day long if you so desire.  At the end of your session, pop a dime in the mail and we’ll call it good.  See how trustworthy I am?  You can pay at the end.  Of course, there are some problems to this approach.  For one, it costs 46 cents to mail a letter.  Can you believe it?  46 cents!  So you’re actually paying 56 cents (what with the dime and all, in case this early in the morning you’re having trouble with the math).  That’s the domestic rate.  For those two folks in Australia who check in from time to time, it may be more.  Sadly, I haven’t signed up with Pay Pal yet.  But wait!  Have I got a deal for you (I feel like the Ginzu knife salesman on late night TV)!….for one thin dollar…just one picture of George (sorry, I don’t take Rands, Euros, Aussie bux even though they come in such pretty colors), you can “rub the buzz” for not one week, not two weeks, but a full three weeks!  You won’t find a better deal than that out there!  And remember, it is all for a good cause…Steve’s afternoon tea fund while he supervises the trash being taken to the street.

Oh, as an added bonus, the hygiene factor is certainly much higher through this virtual buzz rubbing.  After a sweaty bicycle ride and such, I don't think Andrea really knew what she was getting into.  I try and stay clean, but you never know.  On the other hand, the screen rubbing is guaranteed to be as germ free as you want to make it...most likely somewhere between rubbing the bubble gum wall at the Pike Place Market and kissing the Blarney Stone.



  1. So supportive of you to get the haircut, Steve! Praying for healing in the port area, hopefully the pain goes away quickly. When does the unit of blood go in? Praying still and keep us all posted! Lots of love!

  2. Steve got me to laugh so hard that I woke up the dog sleeping next to me on the couch. Storm is not amused :-) . You'd better put some weight on Gaby if you expect her to jump up and down on the trash can, and no, I won't be sending you any dimes or dollars, but I could send you a collection of used teabags (just like the early missionaries said they used to get) for your tea service.

    I hope she did get to eat something as it sounded like her appetite was starting to kick in yesterday and that's munch time.

    Praying that these minor sidetracks will straighten out soon and all of you will be all the better for it.

    Hugs and prayers, Janet