Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Groceries & The Movies

My friend Valerie came over to take me grocery shopping. I really can't drive with the Drainage Tube in my armpit. And my car is out because the breaks need to be done anyway. And I don't want to risk taking the bus with this thing stuck in my arm - who knows what could happen on the bus.

So Valerie drove me over to Ralphs .
Since I had stocked up on so many of my "heavy" items before I went into the hospital, I basically need perishable food items. I would normally shop for those at Whole Foods , but I wasn't going to ask my friend to haul me half way across town. The closest Whole Foods is in the Fairfax area.
The main things I like at Whole Foods is the bread made by Rudi's Bakery and
the margerine made by Earth Balance .
Even if you buy really good whole grain bread at the supermarket, it still has preservatives in it. Rudi's Bread is the only kind I have found with no preservatives. And the Earth Balance maragrine is made with oils, and it tastes really good.

We stopped at China Express before the grocery store, and we got Chinese Food. Yes, this isn't organic, but there is still plenty of vegetables.
Restaurant eating is next to impossible if you are trying to eat organic. So I am just making sure I buy organic for my home cooking. And just try to do the best I can when I eat out.

We loaded the groceries into my fridge. And took a break and had some cold water.
Then we decided to catch a movie.

We went to see The 40 Year Old Virgin .
It was playing right over at the Arclight Cinema .
I felt really weird going to such a hip and happening place, with a Drainage Tube stuck in my arm. I wore a really loose T-shirt, and had it pinned underneath the T-shirt. You could still kind of see a little bump, but it was at least hidden.

The Fourty Year Old Virgin was really funny. All of my friends said they really liked it. And I was really in the mood for a comedy.

Then, as we left the movie - the theatre lobby was really filled with people. I was trying to stay away from people because I didn't want to get bumped.
Of course, one guy was rushing to get in line for tickets, and almost rammed into me. I stopped dead, and kept my arms out in front of me.
Then ... as we went into the parking area, some guys on skateboards almost rammed into me. I stood there holding out my hands saying "No, No, No". The guy said "Sorry", picked up his skateboard and walked away.

My first day out after surgery, really wore me out. I needed a nap when I got back home.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Tea, Breakfast and Books

In an effort to get even healthier and do my part to beat my breast cancer, I decided to try to drink Green Tea for breakfast.
I am sorry, it just doesn't work.
Tea is an afternoon drink. Or a drink for curling up with a book on a cold winters day.
Tea is not made for breakfast.
I will have to go back to my Half-Caf coffee for now.

I am making Iced Green Tea and keeping a pitcher in the fridge, to have with lunch or dinner. Gone is the beer and wine I would have nightly with my dinner. I read that even tho wine is good for your heart, alcohol actually raises your estrogen levels.
I am probably still getting to much caffeine than my doctor would like, but I figure its better than soda pop. Less sugar and no artificial sweeteners either.

My breakfast of choice used to be a bagel and real cream cheese, or scrambled eggs and toast. I have switched over to Oatmeal, usually with bananas, pecans and alittle organic fat-free milk. (Even tho, I have almost completely given up milk products due to the hormones and antibiotics.)
A friend of my actually had to have heart surgery - a balloon thing to unclog his artery via his leg. Afterwards even with medication, he couldn't get his cholesterol down. Then he added oatmeal to his diet, and it worked - his cholesterol went down.
So his story inspired me to add oatmeal to my diet.

My snack of choice is now Garden of Eatin' Blue Tortilla Chips with no added salt. Wow, tortilla chips with no salt - Amen.
They carry them at Ralphs - in the Health Food Section, not with the other chips.

I am working my way through the 23 books I checked out from The Library .
I figured some steamy historical romances would help keep my mind off my surgery, and help me relax.

Some of the authors I checked out:
Philippa Gregory
Susan Vreeland
Tracy Chevalier
Sarah Dunant
Anya Seton

But I also got a few humorous books too, for example Shopaholic and Sister .
by author Sophie Kinsella
And The Devil Wears Prada . by author Lauren Weisberger

It actually feels indulgent to be laying on the couch reading a novel in the middle of the day - even tho there is a drainage tube in my armpit

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Shower and Nurse

I really needed a Shower. But I really didn't want to deal with all my incisions and gross things.
Then I figured - well, the Home Nurse is coming about 4:30. I will take a shower about 2:00 . That way if anything goes wrong, then the Nurse will be on her way and she can help me when she gets there.

How to Take A Shower With A Drainage Tube in Your Armpit :
Now, my drainage tube, went all the way down to my knees with the collection bulb at the end. I kept it both taped to my body and pinned to my t-shirt. To get in the shower, I left it taped to part of my waist.

Remember when you went to a cute boutique, and they gave you a charming little bag with a handle and their name on it ?
Take that little bag, and tie it to the shower door. (I tied it using a grocery bag.)
Then I placed the collection bulb, in the little bag, on the shower door. And I left the shower door partially opened. With the shower head pointing half way to the wall.

Yeah, I really couldn't turn around much. And for my first shower, I pretty much only got half of my body washed - but its better than nothing. And I did wash my hair.

When I was done with the shower, I then replaced the gauze bandages.

And guess what ? Nothing bad happened. I lived through the shower okay.

The Nurse came by. She looked me over. Filled out a bunch of paperwork. Took my Temperature and Blood Pressure.
But she wasn't going to see me everyday. Turns out since I am emptying my Drainage Tube and writing down the amount collected, she doesn't really need to be out here everyday.
She said that she would see about getting me some kind of Assistant, just to come out and help me shower.
I felt I needed that more than anything else. But, alas, later when I called the Home Nurses and spoke to their office, the shower person wasn't covered by insurance.
So I would be showering on my own, with the Nurse coming by every few days.
I don't know all these medical things, and I don't know what I'm doing. It does not leave me with a comfortable feeling.

Tossing & Turning & Nightmares

Last night was a terrible night. I started out falling asleep on the couch.
I was all squished. The left arm where they removed the lymph nodes and I have the drainage tubes, looked alittle puffy to me.

So I move to my bed - which is actually a futon on the floor.
I put a pillow by my side, just so my arm has a place to rest and be slightly elevated.
I have to be careful not to sit on the Drainage Tube, which is pinned to my t-shirt.
I leave the light on.

About 3 am, I am awaked by Cinnamon the Cat . It is unusually hot - Los Angeles is in the middle of a heat wave.
And there is a bug somewhere in the bed. She is after it. She gets it.
Then I notice a roach on the wall. I smash it.
Then I notice a spider on the wall. I smash it too.

Oh, good heavens - I start to panic. Can this bugs smell the pink yucky fluid in the Drainage Tube?
Are they coming after me ?
I start to imagine them crawling in to my incisions.
Well, of course not. Calm down. Its just really hot outside, and they are all coming inside. But my mind isn't thinking normally.

I decide to move back to the couch, and end up finishing the night sleeping there.
Maybe I only got about 5 hours of sleep.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Home At Last

We stop off at Rite Aid to get me painkiller medicine - prescription strength tylenol with codeine. Since I don't do pills well, the doctor gave me liquid. I had to wait about a half hour for it to be ready. (And typical of me, I refused to take it - I kept using ice packs instead.)

Once at home, I wait while my friend parked his car. It was so nice to sit on the doorstep of my apartment building and feel the breeze in my hair.

Cinnamon the Cat , was under the couch. She survived her first night alone without me coming home. And she was pretty mad about it.
She had plenty of food and water left out for her. But I am sure she either worried about me, or was just lonely. Either way, she wouldn't come out from under the couch. She stayed there for a few hours, even though I was home.

A friend came by to help me clean the cat litter box. We chatted for a while. And then I realized that the cat had thrown-up on the carpet.
Great, just one more yucky thing to deal with.

I settled in for a night of television. That, and I checked my emails. Oh, and emptied the Drainage Tube.
I have to keep track of how much pink liquid comes out. And write it on a sheet.
More yucky things.

Cinnamon 090205
Cinnamon Licks Her Belly
Cinnamon Sleeps
Cinnamon & Her Tail
Cinnamon's Tummy

Getting Out of There

I was getting bored. Watch TV, Go for a walk with the IV-on-A-Cart, more TV, more walking.
And not to be negative, but when I was going for a walk, I was walking around people who were way sicker than I was. And that can't be healthy, physically or emotionally.

Thank God for cell phones.
My doctor had said she would come by to release me, and she wasn't there yet.
So I called her office.
They said they would give her the message when she got in.

She finally arrived about 10am. I said "Oh, just disregard the message I left for you at your office."
We talked alittle bit. Six lymph nodes out, a tumor in only one.
She mentioned an Oncologist and Chemotherapy - neither of which I want to hear about.
I asked her to show me my incisions in the mirror. I don't want to look at them first thing by myself at home.
We go over to the bathroom, and look in the mirror.
Thank heavens, I am all bandaged up. I can't see anything yucky.

Right breast - incision on top, where they removed the "questionable" material
Left breast - incision on bottom, where they removed the cancerous tumor
Left Armpit - There is a long tube coming out of my armpit. The tube goes down to my knees and has a collection bulb on the end.
This last thing is the most difficult. I don't want to deal with pink yucky fluid in a little cup.
And as gross as it sounds, I smell like the pink yucky fluid.

The doctor tells me I can shower with the drainage tube, though it might be difficult. She says the nurses will explain how to empty it.
And they will be having a Home Nurse coming by to help me for the next week.
And best of all - she is releasing me to go home. Yeah !
I just need one more dose of antibiotics before I leave.

After the doctor leaves, I go walking around the floor some more. The doctor gave a prescription for painkillers to take at home. And I need to get my strength up because we will need to stop at Rite-Aid pharmacy on the way home - so I better Walk.

A new morning Nurse comes by, and introduces herself, along with an assistant.
Soon, the Floor Manager comes by, and asks me if I met my nurse and what was her name.
I say "Yeah, she came by and introduced herself. Um, no I don't remember her name, but she was wearing a lavender top."
The Floor Manager looks alittle mad that I don't remember my Nurses name. This must be some kind of new rule she is implementing with her staff.
"Um, I'm leaving pretty soon", I try to explain.

It is taking the nurses forever to get me my last antibiotics, and give me my drainage tube instructions.
They say they are trying to book a home nurse for me, and it is difficult to find someone who can come out to my neighborhood.

So I wait, and I call the person who was going to pick me up and I tell him its going to be a while longer.

Finally we do the Drainage Tube instruction. And they put the antibiotics in my IV.
The new morning Nurse asks me if I want my last painkiller shot.
I figure I'll be stopping by the drugstore on the way home, so I better get the shot.
She comes back, and holds the needle right in front of my face - and it is the biggest flippin' black needle I have ever seen in my life.
I say "Oh, no, no - thats not what they were giving me. The evening Nurse last night had alittle needle. This isn't right."
She insists that is what they have already given me twice, and gets my chart to prove it.
I decline the shot. "No, no - nevermind, I don't need the painkiller."
It isn't until a few days later when I think about it, that I realized the first Nurse had the needle retracted somehow - so I thought I was getting a shot with a little needle. He was very bright to fool me like that.
And this new nurse, not so bright to show me the huge gigantic needle.
And if the needle size scared me so much - I really don't think I needed the painkiller that much. Believe me, if I was in pain, I wouldn't have cared about the needle size.

Its still taking them forever to get me the Home Nurse Information. I am waiting.
Yeah ! The antibiotic is finished, and they take the IV out !
And I am still waiting.
So I decided I am staying for Lunch. Its similar to dinner last night. Chicken, white rice, salad with iceberg lettuce, lemon-lime soda.
They finally get me the information on the Home Nurse.
And my friend arrives to pick me up.

I had wanted to be out of there by 11 am, but it is now 1 pm. I am so happy to get out of there, I almost take off.
I say good-bye to the Nurse, and she stops me. I need to wait for one of the Transport Guys to take me in a wheel chair.
Ok, whatever.
He wheels me out to the lobby, and I get in my friends car and we are off to home.

Morning of Day Two in the Hospital

About 6 am, a Nurse comes by and suggested "Your doctor would be really happy if she heard you were up walking around".
Well, that does it for me. I am out of that bed as fast as my IV-on-a-cart will let me.

The nurse gives me an extra hospital gown to wear backwards so my rear end is covered, and I go waddling down the hallway, leaning on my IV-with-wheels.
Hmmm, turning corners throws me alittle off balance. It must be that painkiller I requested a 4am.

The hospital floor is kind of like a donut-shape, with the nurses stations in the middle. So I walk around the Nurses stations about three times.

Then I notice that there are 2 men, in my age range, also walking around the circle.
One of them also with an IV-on-wheels, and he makes little jokes as we pass eachother like "Bet I finish first", like its a race. I notice he has not requested an extra hospital gown, and had to hold the gown shut in the back with one hand.
The other man in my age range, is walking by himself with no IV - and he's put on some tight underwear and is just walking around with the gown open in the back.
Gee, I just had surgery yesterday, but I am still looking at men. Wow, I guess I am still alive.

Oh, No - then I realize - I have no makeup on. My hair is probably a mess. And I must look awful.
I waddle over to the nurse and tell her that I would like to wash my face and brush my teeth.

When she brings the items to my room, I make sure I say to her "Oh, thank you so much for telling me to walk this morning. I feel so much better now. That was such a great idea. I am glad you suggested it."
I have been smoozing the nurses like this ever since the anesthesia wore off. Totally being as sweet as pie, and kissing up to them.
Well, first, they do deserve it. I mean, some of the other patients aren't so nice to them. Its so easy to be grumpy when you are sick.
And second, it paid off. Even though my room was for two people, they never put another person in with me. And the hospital floor was somewhat full too.
I had one big room to myself the whole time I was there.
I don't know if the reason I had the room to myself, but the smoozing sure didn't hurt.

I did manage to wash my face and brush my teeth and put on makeup - all with an IV attached. But I got the front of my gown all wet.
So the nurses had to come help me change it. When they saw I put on my makeup they were giggling and made a fuss.
I told them "Hey, there are men out in the hallway."

I went for another spin with my IV-on-a-cart, around the floor, and told the nurses I would do more after breakfast.
Then when I got back I made a big decision : I am not getting back in that hospital bed.
I scooted a chair over with my hips and pushed it with my feet (stitches in armpit), and then put the bed tray next to it. I was all set to watch TV.

Breakfast arrived. It was a scrambled egg, two little pieces of ham, oatmeal and an english muffin, along with coffee.
I asked the food serve person if they had Decaf, and she looked at me confused. I said "Never mind, I'll just drink half of it."
I ate everything on the plate. Except the ham - I took one bite, and thought of the additives and preservatives and said "Forget it."

Sleeping in the Hospital

When people joke about how hard it is to get any sleep in a hospital - they aren't joking.
After falling asleep in front of the TV, I woke up about midnight. There was a nurse there asking if I wanted my next painkiller shot.
My reply "No, I just want more ice packs."
So they loaded me up with 3 new ice packs and gave me an extra blanket. I was tucked in, all snuggly and cold.

I am watching the clock. About an hour later, I finally dose off to sleep.
5 minutes after I fall asleep, a nurse wakes me to take my blood pressure.
After she is done, I can't fall back asleep.

Another hour later I fall back asleep.
Only to have a nurse walk into the room just to look at me.
It wakes me up.
Takes me another hour to fall back asleep.

Then about 4 am, I decided that I really wanted the Painkiller shot after all.
I buzz the nurse. She comes to give me the shot in the butt.
"Ouch - Ouch - Ouch !" I moan.
She tries to "Sssh" me so I won't wake the other patients.

I fall back asleep.
Only to wake up at about 5 am, when all the morning nurses were coming on duty and turning on all the lights.
Gee... Maybe a total of 4 hours sleep ?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Night in The Hospital

The nurses all around me ... making me comfortable.
Three ice packs ... one on top of my right boob, one on the bottom of my left boob, and one under my left armpit.
I am all snuggled in nice and cold, me and my ice packs.

One nurse was really smart. He pulled a fast one on me. He had to give me a painkiller shot every 6 hours. He showed me this little tiny needle.
And he said it was best to give it to me in the butt. I was like "Okay Fine". It hurt so bad, I was screaming.
I couldn't figure out why a little needle like that hurt so bad. (I figured out the next day, that he had had the needle retracted so I didn't see the full length of the thing.)

My friend Karie comes back. My doctor had called her and told her I was ready and would be staying overnight.
She stays a while, then needs to get out. She goes to the grocery store to get straws. I am on a liquid diet, and its pretty hard to sip without spilling stuff all over me.
I brought bottled water with me, and Juicy Juice . I had already drank two small containers of Juicy Juice when the tray arrived from Food Services with my liquid diet. Apple juice, Broth, Lemon-lime soda.
I was already munching the organic saltine crackers I brought with me, when they told me I was going to get dinner.
They did give me an anti-nausea drug before I ate dinner .. but after my organic saltine crackers.

Then the Nurse saw the Juicy-Juice cartons and the empty water bottles.
"How much are you DRINKING?" she asked in surprise. I guess she is supposed to write it all down in my chart.

Of course, with all that drinking... I had to do the unavoidable. I pushed the button.
A nurse in the loudspeaker "Yes ?"
Me : "What do I do if I have to go to the bathroom?"
The nurses came and helped me and my IV waddle over to the bathroom.
My pee was Neon Blue.
Dye they injected into the tumor so they could follow the drainage into the lymph nodes.
Pretty wild, I thought.

Another friend came by to spend the evening. During which time, dinner arrived. It was better than I expected.
Chicken and a rice pilaf and green beans. A pretty good whole wheat dinner roll. A minestrone soup that had tomatoes, which meant I didn't touch it for fear of getting heartburn. And a custard, which I took two bites of - and I decided since I am giving up milk products due to the added hormones, it wasn't yummy enough to risk.

As I was sitting up, eating dinner - my Doctor arrived. The first words out of her mouth were "Ok, you're up, you're talking, you're eating dinner."
She went over that one lymph node had tumor.
I was surprised "A tumor ?"
"Cancer" - she answered.
For some reason I don't think of a tumor and cancer as being the same thing. But I guess in my case it is.
Then we talked about the At-Home Nurse who would come by to help me with my drainage tube. Because I don't do "icky" things very well.
I must have been really loopy from the pain killers - because I remember making a really stupid joke about the At-Home Nurse helping to empty my cat litter box. And I thought it was hysterical. A few days later I'm like "Did I really say that?"
I introduced her to my two friends. And we talked about me going home tomorrow. She said she would stop by in the morning to see how I was doing.

One friend left soon after dinner. The other friend left after visiting hours were over, at 8pm.
I propped myself up in bed, with more apple juice from the nurses, and my organic crackers.
As I munched, I watched TV. And you would never in a million years guess which TV show I decided to watch while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery ? House MD .
And I hardly ever watch it at home. I am looking at the weird morbid things on the TV show and asking myself "Why Am I Watching This?"
But I didn't turn it off.
Just as The Practice was about to start, I was wondering if I was allowed to take walks. I mean, I am laying in bed in one position, and I am sure my feet are going to cramp up.
Well, I was right on schedule because a nurse came in and said "Why don't you see if you can walk around a bit?"
So me and my IV bag went up and down the hallway a few times. Passing all those other patients who were far way sicker than me.
And I thought "Oh.... I am getting out of here tomorrow morning, no matter what. For Sure."

Back to bed, I fell asleep watching TV.


I wake up, staring straight ahead at a clock. There is an awful oxygen mask on my face.
I just lay there.
This is a worse feeling than the sedative before the anesthesia.

I had read numerous books on Breast Cancer and Having an Operation and Being in the Hospital .
I just did a search on .
Then I requested the best sellers via The Library
I managed to get some information on the anesthesia from some of the books with a holistic approach.
Now, I'm not a doctor ... but I read in a couple books to not eat vegetables in the Nightshade family a few days before your surgery. These are tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers including bell peppers. Something to do with the nightshade in the vegetables makes you groggier and its harder to come out of the anesthesia. So I followed that advice.

And another thing I read was that once you wake up from the anesthesia, don't go back to sleep. Stay awake. This will lessen your chance of getting a headache.
A nurse came over and said "Go ahead and sleep it off."
Ah, no, I thought... I am staying wide awake. Per the holistic books that I read.
I just watched the clock with this awful feeling of not being able to move.

I was still alittle groggy when my Breast Surgeon appeared.
She asked how I was doing. And then she told me they found cancer in one lymph node. So they had to remove some lymph nodes.
So there is a drainage tube in my left armpit.

I was glad she told me while I was still groggy and still coming out of it. I was unable to get emotional. And that was a good thing at this point.

I think I was there for roughly an hour. I was trying to remember if I dreamed anything, or if I had a sense of time while I was out.
No, nothing. Just a black space in my memory.

Soon the oxygen mask comes off, and they started to wheel me, still on the gurney, to a hospital room.
This was worse than being wheeled while on the sedative. The Transport Guy had to move me into the elevator and down the halls.
All the maneuvering was a bit much. I closed my eyes most of the way.

Finally we get to my hospital room. The Transport Guy pushes the gurney right up to the bed.
He goes to the far side of the bed. He then gets ready to pull the sheets under me like he is doing a parlor trick to entertain.
I said "Oh, no, I know what you're gonna do ..."
He yanks the sheets underneath me, and slided over to the bed.

And with that little parlor trick, I was out of the anesthesia, and pretty much wide awake.

Surgery at 10 am

Next I am wheeled into the holding area before Surgery. Is this the Pre-Op room ...
No one here really looked happy with their jobs. They all seemed alittle bit grumpy and down in the dumps.

They had me get in the bed at my holding station, or whatever you call it.
The Nurse took my Vitals again.

Then the Anesthesiologist came over. He was not perky at all. Kind of a sad-sack kind of a guy.
But then again, do you really want a perky Anesthesiologist ? Kind of doesn't fit the job description, does it ?

He never introduced himself or said hello, just took my chart and started ask questions about the medical info on my chart.
He took particular interest in my Hypoglycemia.
"Are you Diabetic?" He asked
"No, hypoglycemic"
"Diabetic?" He asked again.
"No ... Hy - Po - Gly - Ce - Mic"
"Not Diabetic?" he said again.
"Hypo - Glycemic. Low blood sugar. My blood sugar gets too low."
"How do you know you are hypoglycemic ?" He sounded like he didn't believe me.
"Well", I replied "Years ago I had a glucose tolerance test, and I turned purple and they had to stop to test because I was
about to pass out."
He shrugged like that was nothing.
"And", I went on, "I have to eat every 4 hours, or I get woozy".
He shrugged again.
"And both my Family Doctor and my Breast Surgeon, are in agreement that I am hypoglycemic". I stated.
There you go, Final Answer. Don't go against my doctors, dude.
No reply to that answer.

But my IV had Dextrose in it, so I was happy.

My Doctor stops by to chat. We go over the procedure one more time. She isn't wearing makeup. Her face is scrubbed clean.
I am wearing makeup, no one said it was a problem.
I ask her how will I know if she had to remove lymph nodes, or if something happens about the nipple. I ask her when will I see her again - because if anything happens, I want her to be the one to explain it to me, I don't want to hear it from a nurse.

A few minutes after that, a young good-looking Filipino man came over to introduce himself.
"Hi, I will be your Nurse during your operation."
Okay, this is nice. Pretty good choice in my opinion.

We chatted a bit. A friend later said I should have asked him the question that the Father asks Ben Stiller in Meet The Parents .
Something about being a Nurse because you couldn't become a Doctor .
I said No, he was really nice ... for the small amount of time I was lucid and coherent with him.

Soon, the room started to sway back and forth.
I called the Nurses name. He came over.
I said "I feel funny."
He said "Thats just a mild sedative. Relax."

Mild ? The room is spinning.
You know when you were young and foolish and you'd get really really drunk, and it would be really silly and fun.
Well, this wasn't it.
It was not a good feeling.
I would not have been able to move, even if an earthquake struck. I was totally wacked.

To make matters worse, my cute nurse starts to roll the gurney.
I do remember to look down, to see my chart at the end by my feet. At least I know thats there, ha, ha, ha...
But being wheeled on a gurney when everything is swaying due to a sedative, is just so not good at all.

I am in the Operating Room.
There is a big round mirror above me.
Alot of baby blue. There are people wearing baby blue surgical hats. And baby blue paper coverings on the table.

My nurse goes off to my left. I slur a question like "So whats next?"
I see a figure behind me to my right with a baby blue surgical cap on. Is that my doctor? I try to look.
And ... boom ... I'm out cold.

Pre-Operation Stuff

One of the nurses arrives with a guy pushing a wheel chair. A Transport Guy.
They put a blanket over the wheel chair. I sit in it only wearing my backless hospital gown. They tuck me in with another blanket over me.
We start to leave, and I say to the Transport Guy : "Got my Chart ?"
No... he left it in the room.
He runs back to retrieve it.

And then he wheels me out the front hospital door, across the dirty street, to the Breast Center.
Hmmm... so they want me to be sanitary for the operation. Even though my feet are not touching the ground, how sanitary can it be to be wearing the gown I will be operated on out here in the city street.
Oh, well ...

We make it to the Breast Center. They have a few things to do to me first.
I go into the Biopsy room that I have been in so many times before.

First, because they are going to remove "Questionable Material" from my right breast ... and its not a tumor of any sort ... they have to get the mammogram film, and place a needle in my right breast.
Yes, when we were done, there was a needle sticking out of my right breast. It had a little plastic top on it.
It has something to do with the doctor being able to find the "Questionable Material" - since its not a tumor, she needs to know what to take out.

Second, they have to inject dye into the tumor in my left breast. This is for the Sentinel Node Biopsy.
So they can see if the tumor is draining into any lymph nodes, and then they can check only those lymph nodes.
A different doctor came over from the hospital, and he was training the Breast Center Doctor on how to do this.
My main question was if it was going to sting or burn. And no, I didn't feel anything when they injected the dye into the tumor, just the pinch of the needle.

By this time, my hypoglycemia is acting up because I haven't eaten. Add to that needles in my body.
I was getting alittle woozy.
Then they tell me I have to have a mammogram done of the right side, where the needle was.
By this point, I am thinking "Whatever."

I head over to the Mammogram room across the hall. Yes, they take the right breast that has a needle in it, and they squish it under the mammogram trays. Alittle flat, not to flat, the technician is trying to be gentle with me because there is a needle in my breast.

The mammogram machine is fussy. Its beeps. The technician tells me I moved.
Well, how could I not have ? There is a needle in my breast and its being slightly smooshed.

We try it two more times. I am extra strong, and really concentrate on not moving.
The poor technician is getting more upset then I am.

I think the mammogram machine was just seeing the needle in my breast, and thinking there was something on the tray that shouldn't be there.

The technician tells me we are going to another Mammogram machine.
We walk down the hall, and this new mammogram machine gets the picture on the first try.

They tuck me back into my wheelchair with all my blankets. A new Transportation Guy comes to get me.
First thing I say - again - as we roll away "Got my chart ?"

He turns me around, we go back to the Biopsy room, and tuck my chart firmly in the back of the wheelchair.
Then he rolls me back across the street to the hospital.

First stop, is my favorite place - The Radiology Department. Gee, I spend alot of time there lately.
The plan was to take a picture of the tumor with the dye in it.
I am laying on a table ready to be moved through the CT scanning machine.
Hey, its the Guy with the Vein Jokes, and the Nice Lady Tech. I say "I remember you both - you did my Bone Scan."
We greet eachother like long lost friends.

Then there is a phone call. "They want her in Surgery Now."
Someone says "We haven't taken the Scan."
Someone else says "The Doctor doesn't want it."

So I get off the table, back into my wheelchair.
A third Transportation Guy comes by to get me.
And guess what happens ? Yeah, thats right... I know you figured it out ....
I say "Do you have my chart ?" for the third time.
And - Nope - for the third time we have to go back and get my chart.

This would be really funny, if it wasn't the hospital and they weren't about to cut me open.

Arriving At The Hospital

My friend Karie drove me to Glendale Memorial Hospital . We had to arrive in the Short Stay Ward by 6:30 am.

I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since midnight. No water. No nothin'.
At first when they told me I had to that, I was like "What? - not even a sip of water?"
Then I went home and looked up "Preparing for Surgery" on a search engine.
It has to do with the anesthesia. Something about normally you have a reflex that keeps the food in your stomach from going over into your lungs.
But when you have anesthesia, you lose that reflex. The reflex just doesn't work. And whatever is your stomach will hop on over into your lungs.
I'm not a medical professional, but it sounds like all of this is connected, and once you have the anesthesia you pretty much don't have that reflex.
And getting food or water into your lungs, is not a good thing and you can end up with a whole 'nother problem.

So after I read about that, I was afraid of my own spit. Seriously.
I didn't even brush my teeth this morning.

So I am in the Short Stay Ward, and they give me the little back-less gown to wear. Which doesn't make sense to me, because I am having surgery on both Breasts - so you would think I would have it opening in the front. But I do what they say and change into it.

Then, a nurse comes to take my vitals, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate. Now it really doesn't make sense to take my blood pressure because I am going in for surgery, and I am scared to death. I tell her "Oh, boy, just watch these numbers".
I was right - it was 195.
I said "My blood pressure has never been anywhere near that high in my entire life."
I'm as nervous as heck, so of course it is going to be high.
The look on the Nurses face said she didn't really believe me.

The nurse notices that I still have my socks on.
"Oh, no" She Says, "The socks have to come off."
I'm like : "The socks ?"
She says something about the operating room being a sterile environment, and nothing from outside can go into the operating room.
So I ask "What about my underwear ?"
Her reply "Yes, your underwear too. Just wear the gown only."

I keep thinking of Jack Nicholson in that movie Somethings Got To Give , where his butt was showing through his hospital gown.

Just me in my little smock.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Day Before Surgery

Just took care of necessary things. The doctor told me to be very well-rested for the surgery. I can't believe it is happening tomorrow.
The first thing I thought when I woke up was "In exactly 24 hours, I will be on an operating table."
So my plan was to lay low, and take it easy all day.

Then ... I get a phone call. Its Glendale Memorial Hospital.
The really young girl on the other phone starts talking about my procedure tomorrow.
Then she states the expected price of the procedure.
Then she says "Your insurance pays 80%".
Then she tell me how much 20%, my part, is.
I respond "Yeah, okay".
She repeats the amount again.
I respond again "Yeah okay."
We are getting no where, and I finally say "Okay, your billing me right?"
Her response: "Oh, we usually don't do that. Can you bring a check, and pay your portion tomorrow when you check in?"
Fear and terror and nerves ...I panic alittle thinking : Are they going to tell me they can't operate because I can't pay right now ?

Well, of course not,
I reply "No, I can't pay tomorrow. I don't have that kind of money. You will have to bill me."
The young girl replies "Oh, okay, we'll bill you." And hangs up.

Gee... so much for the nice restful day that my doctor ordered. My nerves are shot.

How can someone have a job like that and sleep at night ? I mean, calling a patient the day before their operation and asking for money.
They have had my information forever, they could have called me two or three weeks ago to talk about it.
I tried to calm down and get back to the restful relaxing day my doctor ordered.

I had a 4:15 appointment at Church to have some of the Ministers pray for me.

Then I met my Stephen Minister for dinner at Zankou Chicken .
I've lived within walking distance of the Restaurant for 5 years, and I have never been. Its a pretty popular place and very well-known.
So now I have eaten there. It was really good. I got the 1/4 chicken with sides and an order of Tabouli. I want to go back and try the falafel plate.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Day In Santa Monica

I was really looking forward to today. Josh and Dana, two of the musicians who worked on My CD a few years back, were meeting me in Santa Monica for lunch.

I took the Metro Subway from my house in East Hollywood, over to Santa Monica Blvd.

And then took the Santa Monica Blvd Express bus into Santa Monica.
An All-Day pass is only $3, which is a pretty good deal.

Plus, with the heat wave we are having, it was nice to be on an airconditioned bus.
And the bus left me off right in front of the Broadway Deli where I was meeting them.

We walked around the Santa Monica Promenade for a while.
Then we went back to Broadway Deli to eat.
We were trying to figure out how long ago we recorded the CD. I said something like "20 years ago", which is kind of how it seems.
When I got home and looked, I copyrighted it in 2000, so we recorded in 1999.
It was only 6 years ago that we recorded ... but time does fly.

A few pics from my trip on the Los Angeles Metro Subway.

Sunset Mural

Mural on Sunset Blvd, near Vermont Ave

Sunset Mural

Mural on Sunset Blvd, near Vermont Ave

Sunset Mural

Mural on Sunset Blvd, near Vermont Ave


Directions so you don't get lost

Metro Station Vermont & Sunset

Metro subway station Vermont Ave & Sunset Blvd

Metro Station Santa Monica & Vermont

Metro subway station Vermont Ave & Santa Monica Blvd


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