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Two Hours Sucking Remicade through my Arm

Aug 9, 2010

 

 

It is à propos to me that my first ‘home page’ post should be written while I sit in the Mobile Outpatient Unit (The “MOPU”) of my local hospital receiving Remicade after the 8-week reprieve built into my treatment schedule.  While I am grateful that such a brand of poison exists to ward off the worst of the symptoms of my Crohn’s Disease and continues to buy me more time before I must surrender a portion of my intestine to surgery, I still prefer the seven weeks and 6 days of NO Remicade.  I’m just funny that way.

Apparently as I’ve aged, my veins have become skinny (that’s ‘my veins’… not to be confused with ‘my thighs’ :-/) and they are difficult to locate under my skin – even though it’s porcelain, translucent and has no tan because I rarely leave the house :-/.  This makes any I.V. stick an adventure and, while I have matured with my ability to handle the whole needle-phobia thing, having “bad veins” can push me to my limit. 

Today’s experience began with the traditional warm-towel-arm(s)-soak, which was made even more pleasant because I’d just come in from 95 degree weather and disgustingly high humidity; Hey, can you make those towels as warm as possible?  It’s almost like having one’s hands tied down as soon as you arrive, because there is nothing you can do once your arms are wrapped in wet, hot towels and some special water-resistant hospital paper from the elbows down and around your fingertips.  The aide had to take my watch off because suddenly, I had no fingers available for any usage at all.

And then the sweating begins.  It feels like there is steam rising up from my arms and causing my forehead, face, neck, etc. to start sweating AND cause my shoulder length hair to start sticking to my forehead, face, neck, etc.  But I can’t push it away because, basically… I have no hands and cannot move my arms.  I am not happy at this point.  I am, instead, an uncomfortably warm, anxious patient covered in sweat from the shoulders up with hair stuck to my face and neck, and covered in giant white warm, wet towels from the elbows down, waiting for a drug I don’t want… but do need.

<insert your own expletive>

Finally, the nurse comes around and takes over for the aide.  It’s 3:45 and I’ve been in the special ‘infusion’ chair since 3:20 for my 3:30 appointment – with my arms and hands wrapped in hot towels.  She asks where she should stick me.  We go through this every 8 weeks: You should stick me wherever you see the best vein.  “Would that be the right arm or the left arm?”  It varies, you should just look at my arms and see where you think the best vein is [YOU being the nurse and all].   This witty banter continues for a minute or two and she evaluates several veins (ALOUD), then looks to me for confirmation.  In a measured tone that I’m hoping doesn’t sound sarcastic or condescending, I say, Well, do you think that’s the best one?  When finally I get an affirmative response that sounds the least hesitant and doubtful, we have a winner.

Remember, I tell her, I get premedicated.  “You do?” she says, “let me check your chart.”  “Is this the first time, or do you get premedicated every time?”  she asks as she reaches for the chart.  Every time, I tell her calmly.  “Oh, you’re right… here it is right in your chart.”

Reeeeeeally? :-/

I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the patience I used to.  Well, she thinks I do, and I guess that’s the important part.  I have a sister who would have cursed her out an hour ago and been banned from the MOPU (possibly the hospital)… but that’s another story :-)  I’m the polite one, the one with manners.  Of the two of us, I’m the one people do not refer to as a crazy MF, and am darn proud of that distinction!

My blood pressure cuff has just inflated for the fourth time and my Remicade has almost finished infusing, as they say.  I am happy my BP has been normal the entire time I’ve been here, despite my restrained frustrations earlier.  And why not?  They give me a yummy turkey sandwich to assuage any of the unpleasantries of a life where visiting a MOPU every 8 weeks is mandatory. 

I even get these really bland graham crackers for dessert. ;-)

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