Thursday, November 13, 2014

OK. Cancel the waaaaahmbulance

Those of you who had Nov. 12, 2014, in the “When Does Arnold Have a Complete Breakdown During a Procedure” pool, congratulations! That's when it happened. The tie breaker, I suppose, would be the actual time the breakdown commenced and that was around 8 am. Good luck.

I cannot begin to tell you how bad the whole experience was. You each know I have been through so much in the 14 months since I was initially diagnosed with cancer. I mean, CAT scans, whole-body X-rays, MRIs, the test where they put a camera down your throat and into you stomach, or someplace nearby, I don't even remember. I've had bone marrow biopsies; note, I said “ies,” not “y,” biops-ies. I've had a Hickman line put in and taken out (although taking out shouldn't really count). I've had countless IVs. I've injected myself with a very painful stem cell fortifier. And, of course, I've had my immune system completely destroyed, along with the accompanying stem cell transplant. I know. We'll serve no whine before its time. Yeah? Call the waaaaahmbulance, right? “Get to Arnold's house, stat!”

But, without laying all of that out for you, I can't lay it out for myself. If I can't lay it out for myself, I couldn't possibly make any sense out of what happened during my hidascan on Thursday. Even at that, we have to back up to the day before.

After 1 pm. on the 11th, I couldn't take any pain medication because it would interfere with the way my gall bladder functioned. Since the whole idea of the test was to find out if my gallbladder was functioning properly, “No pain meds for you!”

Normally, that wouldn't be too bad, but both my stomach pains and back pains decided the 11th of November would be just the right time to come by and say “Howdy!”... at the same time. The end result- and I think this was an important factor in what happened later- was I got no sleep from the time I woke up on the 11th until the afternoon of the 12th. No sleep. None. Not any. Nada. Well, I'm sure you get the point.

The spasms in my back were nonstop; not big rolling spasms, but constant little ones that made it impossible for me to get comfortable. Fine. Lots of times, no sleep, no problem. This time, no sleep, big problem.

I don't know what I expected a hidascan to be, but it was nowhere near what it was. Again, I'm used to walking in to these things and dealing with them, whatever they might be. As soon as I looked at the hidascan machine, I knew I was in big trouble. It looked somewhat like a CAT scanner. I laid on my back and a camera was moved into position above my liver/gall bladder and The Nice Lady told me I had to lay still for 45 minutes. Then, they would put something into my IV, and I'd have to lay even stiller for another 31 minutes.

Honestly, I tried. I really tried, but I couldn't. The pain was terrible. Usually, I would be able to put my brain in a spot that would allow me to be distracted by anything bright and shiny. Nuh uh. Not this time.

After about 15 minutes, I had to call The Nice Lady back in and tell her I couldn't do it. I was embarrassed, slightly ashamed, concerned because I needed to have the test done and I was very emotional. I asked TNL to get Sheri, who was sitting in the waiting room.

When she left to get her, I started to cry. Really, cry. I know, that's not what you've come to expect from me in these situations. But, you know what? I think these tears were 14 months in the making. I have kept going and been cheerful and “tough” through all sorts of things. But this felt like the proverbial “Bridge Too Far.” I just couldn't be brave anymore. So I cried and cried. Then Sheri came in and the crying went to a whole 'nother level. I felt like I'd let her down, on top of everything else. We had put so much hope into this test; that it would find the source of my stomach pains once and for all. And here I was, sitting up, weeping, telling her I couldn't do it. Talk about a low point.

Of course, Sheri was worried about me and me only. The test? Whatever. It's only a test. She'd seen me cry before, but this was different. I'm not sure she'd seen me seem so beaten at any previous point in this ordeal. So, she took my hand, and I got big, soppy tears all over both of us. But that's when I knew I wasn't beaten. I'd just been knocked around... a lot. I mean, there was no “Theme from Rocky,” or even “Theme from The Care Bears Movie.” We simply decided, as we have so many times before, to just get on with it.

And we did. The Nice Lady, and The Other Nice Lady she was working with, were able to come up with an alternative they thought would work. I just had to stand (stand!) completely still for two periods of five minutes each and they thought they'd get the data they needed. Not ideal, but...

Well, in the interest of truth in pony finding, I wasn't completely sure that I was going to be able to do even that. But I did. Good for me!

This is another of those things I needed to write about as quickly as possible. The brain, being occasionally merciful, is already convincing the rest of me that... you know... it wasn't THAT bad.

But it was and, yet again, I thank God for my wife and the medical staff that is working with me as I take this journey. Let me say it again: “I Feel...eel...eel. Like...ike...ike... the luckiest...est.est.est man...an...an on the face....ace...ace... of the earth...th...th...

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere.”