March 10, 2011

Transfusion marathon

Yesterday was so LONG.....

I left the house at 10:45 AM for my 11:00 appointment at the Swedish Cancer Institute for a blood transfusion. Just a few blocks from home I realized that something didn't sound right with the car. Sure enough, the front left tire was completely flat. Thank God for cell phones. I called the Cancer Institute to explain I'd be late; called AAA for emergency road service; called my friend G, who was going to hang out with me during the transfusion.

The emergency road service truck arrived in only 20 minutes, barely enough time for me to decide what music to listen to while waiting (I chose Hedwig and The Angry Inch, which is completely fantastic). The technician changed the tire for me and put on the small spare. I drove off to the nearby Les Schwab Tire Center, where they were able to patch my flat tire right away. So I was only an hour late to my transfusion appointment.

By the time I arrived at noon, the Cancer Institute the waiting room was completely full. G met me around 1 PM. Just before she arrived, the charge nurse told me there was a delay in getting the blood and that it wouldn't arrive until 2 PM. G had brought lunch, so we sat in the waiting room enjoying lamb sandwiches from Mediterranean Kitchen. Just as we started a Scrabble game, the nurse called us back to the treatment area.

By 2:30 I was hooked up and getting the first unit of blood. G and I played Scrabble until she had to leave at 3 PM. I finished my book, Sue Fishkoff's Kosher Nation. I leafed through magazines. I played on my iPhone, listened to music, talked on the phone. (Thank God for that toy!) Man, was I bored out of my gourd.

Around 5 PM they switched to the second unit of blood. It turns out that blood units are not standardized by weight or volume, but reflect the amount each donor gives. There is a minimum amount required, but each unit can vary widely from others. So my first unit was about 220 ml, which went in over about two hours, but the second unit was more than 450 ml, and it took almost three hours to transfuse. Plus waiting for it to arrive.

Of course I hadn't planned this would take so long. The hospital cafeteria would have brought me a meal, but they only take cash and I didn't have any on hand. Instead the nurses offered me a sack lunch which had been delivered to the Cancer Institute in the morning. One dry turkey sandwich later, my transfusion ended. I finally left the Cancer Institute at 8:20 PM and was soon walking in our front door.

My back ached from sitting in the chemo chair for eight hours; I had a headache; I was cranky from being so bored for the entire day. But I got a good night's sleep, felt perky enough this morning to walk the dog for 30 minutes, and hope to continue to reap the benefits of the marathon transfusion.

No chemo next Monday!

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