Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Discover Infection....so amusing
Wake up feeling feverish and my chest feels like it's on fire. Try to be good mother and make school lunch but can I be really frank? Making school lunches bores me rigid and he never likes them and so I hurl a few snacks together, give him the six bucks for school lunch, hand him his morning drugs (Adderall for the ADD and Accutane for skin plus some multi-vites!) plus his bowl of Cheerios and milk that is eaten in the car with towel on lap and off we head to school, late as usual. Johnny Depp's children's bodyguards - two gigantic black gentlemen who hang out at school next to their equally humongous black Escalade all day, snap their heads round to look as I loudly roar to a halt. I smile insincerely and wave as Nick cringes, swearing under his breath. They stare back stonefaced and off I zoom to Starbuck's for my morning Venti. Too tired to even wait for my order in a standing position. I have to sit- the sweat pouring off me.
I call Doctor Bob. In surgery all day. I call his cell. No response.
So called my breast surgeon Dr Peg who happily was available in one hour. (Officially she is not the doctor in charge at all--it is the Reconstructive Surgeon but what's a mid-reconstruction sheila to do ?? Be your own advocate and call the next surgeon on one's list- the one who made the first cut and scooped out all the breast tissue. She's also the one who first gave me the staggering news that I had invasive breast cancer. She did my lumpectomy. I like her. She's a woman. I wish she did reconstruction as well.
Back home to hit the hay for half an hour before dragging self off again for...?? .Gosh, how unusual. Another doctor visit. WHAT a scintillating life.
My very beautiful breast surgeon takes one look at practically luminous red breasts and declares
"Jesus, you've got an infection.!"
At this moment Dr Bob calls me back and when I see it's him calling I ask Dr Peg, somewhat panicked, what I should say.
I AM ACTUALLY FEELING GUILTY THAT I have gone behind his back as it were to get a second opinion on my now dark red heat-radiating boobs.
She just takes the phone and tells him very matter-of-factly that I have an infection and need antibiotics. Okay, great. But is he going to be upset with me I keep wondering, like a nervous schoolgirl. Yes, it's insane but not totally...
After all, Dr Bob is the one who swears he will deliver beautiful breasts again and I am feeling somewhat captive and inclined to keep things jolly and pleasant.
And so, when he calls me an hour later before I have even collected the meds from Rite Aid, insisting I come to see him tomorrow, I am somewhat miffed and desperate to ask why the HELL he did not even diagnose this infection ! But instead I simply ask meekly if we can make it monday as I actually have plans tomorrow. No, not a lunch or a high-profile meeting, not even a quick guilt-ridden trip to Fred Segal or Barney's - but a couple MORE doctor appointments.
No, am not ludicrous hypochondriac.
Well actually--maybe I am. Cancer, a lumpectomy, chemo, a double mastectomy and a nice staph infection WILL turn a gal into a bit of a scaredy cat.
And concern (outright terror comes later) now spurs my sluggish brain into recalling that I should be checking in with the fabulous Dr Cynthia in Santa Monica who has been giving me 90 minute Vitamin C infusions during chemo as well as various supplements. Unlike the vast majority of doctors on Planet Earth she is not a total dinosaur and seems to have grasped the readily available knowledge that nutrition, supplements etc can actually prevent illness and promote wellness. Yes, that's it, she's a wellness practitioner. She believes in homeopathy and even blood tests to see what heavy metals might have seeped into one's system.
So I call to tell her about the infection and she says to come in the next morning for another Vitamin C infusion and suggests that I then call a joint in Beverly Hills to book a session in a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber. Really. And that it can help with post-surgery healing as well as infections.
So, was greeted like long lost buddy at Dr Cynthia's and before long, stabbed with a needle for the 980th time in 9 months am resting in yet another recliner chair with whopping great bag of Vitamin C plus some other goodies--Vitamin B and some homeopathic tinctures as well.
It's lovely and restful for about 90 seconds and then two things invariably happen--the Vitamin C gives you a raging thirst AND makes you want to pee in a bad way, but one becomes a master at putting down one's Starbuck's, the Times, popping down the footrest and keeping one's arm totally straight as one manoevers the IV stand past lots of sets of feet belonging to annoyed people who never seem to need to take a pee as they sit lined up in this ridiculously narrow room. The stand and I have to get water from the water cooler, then go to the bathroom and do what one does, one-handed....and back again. Exhausting. And this is the repeated at least three or four times in the 90 minute procedure as I guzzle water and yawn trying to ignore the blazing row that now rages inside my noggin...The wholistic side of me is convinced good healing stuff is flowing through my veins but the skeptic in me screams out "Waste of bloody time and money!"
Speaking of time and money the internal furore now reaches new peaks as I drag my tired body back down Wilshire Boulevard to the aforementioned Hyperbaric Oxygen place and have to strip once more and show my tits to the admitting doctor who happens to be a very nice breast surgeon from a few floors above who is filling in for the doctor/owner of the place who's on vacation. He takes the proverbial 'one look at my tits' and tells me that the minute I have finished with my oxygen treatment I must call his friend, an Infectious Disease doctor at Cedars and have MY INFECTED BREASTS looked at.
I thank him for his concern and take the name and number he has frantically written out for me-offering to make the call himself- and again, the cynic in me says that perhaps he is just a germ freak--or his pal needs new patients and I head out to the room where the oxygen chamber lies there like --well like something astronauts would practice in at NASA or--- just like it did in that famous photo from the 80's where Michael Jackson lies in one in an attempt 'to enhance and extend life'. No, it didn't work out so well for him but then again, he was nutty and did not have infected boobs.
So, wearing a little cloth robe I hop on the gurney type thing, am given lots of information about pressure and having to swallow so my ears don’t pop and if I start to feel real pain then I must tap on the thick plastic ceiling above my head etc etc But I tune out as I suddenly start to panic about the claustrophobia side of things.
But I'm too chicken to get out of it all now and have already handed over my credit card.
So a button is pressed, whirring sounds begin and I wish my son was here. He would enjoy it.
And then the end of the giant tube is shut and a deafening silence descends.
Shit, I think I want to pee again and I truly loathe myself right about now for getting into this insane pickle. Is it time to start banging on the ceiling.
No, hang on, the jolly fat attendant looms into view above me holding a phone . He starts to speak to me from outside the space ship. I can hear him and somehow he can hear me.
Very sophisticated technology for the 80's.
He asks me what channel I want and I spot a TV far far above me, faintly visible through the thick plastic. I go for CNN and then lie there for an hour hideously uncomfortable. For one thing, CNN, I now realize, repeat their headlines every few seconds.
Desperate to pee, my back starts to hurt and I have to swallow every ten seconds because of the pressurized space ship I am in and there are stabbing pains in my poor old innocent ears...Finally, about 50 minutes in, I can bear it no longer. I will pee in the space ship and my back is burning and I am sort of freaking out.
I tap frantically. Nothing. I can hear music coming from behind me.
Has everyone left? Maybe there was an earthquake and I won't be found for 48 hours.
God I hate my life.
Eventually the jolly fat one appears, still bopping to the music he has clearly been grooving to in the back-- and starts to speak but he has forgotten the phone and I cannot lipread. Try to stay calm.
He realizes and disappears as he grabs the phone.
'I want to get out NOW PLEASE!" I plead...and he then informs me that because I am the equivalent of 3000 feet under water or 30,000 or something (I thought it was space ship, not a friggin SUBMARINE) it will take him at least ten minutes 'to bring me up'.
"But I am up. I am up here in the bloody bastard room like YOU" I want to scream but just grin like a fool and beg him "Please come back in ten minutes. Don't forget"
Five minutes which seems like five hours later, wet with perspiration, I tap again.
"Am I up yet?"
Apparently I am still a few thousand feet underwater.
And then I reach dry land and the gurney starts to slide out and I jump off the gurney before it is even fully out. I've never been happier to reach dry ground EVER.
The skeptic in me laughs maniacally at the goody-goody self-healing side of me.
"Well the stress of that little adventure will have cancelled out any good it might have done you".
Hard to argue with myself on that front.
I am practically hyper-ventilating at the exhaustion/cost factor of it all and it suddenly hits me HARDER than usual that of course none of this alternative wholistic type shit is covered by Blue Cross. They only cover the hard-core drugs of course.1 Bastard Insurance shysters. Big BLOODY PHARMA. Big Pharma Fucks. And if I see one more TV ad for some foul drug with nine hundred hideous side effects I will scream. How can anyone take the FDA seriously when they let all these ludicrous ads on the airwaves which have categorically made people ask for more and more prescription pills.
I head to a 7/11 for a nice coke before I can swallow one of these new whacking great big hard-to-swallow antibiotics and now on my way to school to collect the teenage son and head straight to his orthodontist to check on his full mouth of braces before swinging over to his dermatologist for his monthly check-up and blood test to make sure his poor little liver is coping with the Accutane. This is insanity.