Sunday, May 4

Blood Transfusion #329

Ok, ok, I have not had 329 blood transfusions. Sometimes it feels like it though :)
I've got one more to add to the tally total!

mentioned in my last post that due to some high blood clotting times (PT and INR are twice what they normally should be - because a sick liver doesn't make enough clotting factors) and a colitis flare, together creating the perfect storm for anemia, my H&H (Hematocrit and Hemoglobin) were dropping steadily over the last two weeks. They were 27 & 8 respectively last week, and Wednesday evening's labs came back at 23 and 7. The Infusion center where my hematologist sets up my outpatient transfusions was booked up until Monday, and no one wanted me to end up in the ED with a critically low blood volume if the colitis and/or clotting didn't improve. We had enough of those hemorrhagic shock experiences last year to last several lifetimes!
So the only option was to go in to the short stay/observation floor and get the blood that way. There was some miscommunication between doctors, nurses, and my Ry and me - we waited all afternoon for a call to tell us when to come in on Thursday, and finally I called about 7 pm and learned that they'd been waiting for me! Oops! So we threw together our bags, dropped off sweet Vicky for her very first friend sleepover!, and headed to the hospital. 

It had been a BEAUTIFUL, HOT day in Seattle for only being May 1st. We enjoyed the last of the sunset on the drive up, and I grabbed this shot of the Space Needle from the Whole Foods parking lot. Because, we had to stop for gluten free snacks, of course!

Thankfully the attending doctor had put in the order for blood once they knew I was coming, so it didn't take the six to eight hours it normally does for the blood bank to find a match for me - we were concerned initially that I wouldn't start my transfusion til dawn, ha-ha! God is always working behind the scenes, and I'm so grateful for those seemingly little things that make a big difference. While I was admitted, chatting with the doctor, I had so many good laughs. When you've been around this block a few times, certain things about the hospital or procedure or even my own health history become almost like inside jokes, and it was so fun that the room had an atmosphere of hilarity!

There were actually three different IV nurses waiting around at different times to put in my IV - this is ALWAYS a blessing when you can have one of them put in your IV. It's been hard for me to see my arm veins go from a lifetime of being "the easiest blood drawn and IV poke ever" to more frequently a "hit or miss" patient. Man does it hurt when things with the IV go wrong! I just got so much scar tissue from last year's ordeal with hundreds of pokes, while being on Prednisone through that season. Well when I was finally admitted and in my cozies, one of the IV therapy nurses came in - the most cheerful of all three; I don't think he stopped smiling! - and it was the easiest IV poke I've ever had. I hardly felt a thing. Thank You for those little things that are big things at the time, God. :)

Catchimg up on my reading... I'm in this habit now of reading at least five books at once, so I chip away at each one slowly in rotation. I read some more of Christine Caine's "Undaunted" during this transfusion. She gives an amazing personal testimony, and challenge to step OUT of comfort to really meet the deep needs of the world; I am loving this book. Oh yes, and with permission (actually, full on encouragement!) from my nurse, you can see I painted my nails hot pink :)

Thumbs up, all is well! Especially since I had my bacon blanket, cozy sweats, and new coloring book and markers from home ;)
The blood arrived before midnight, I think, and I settled in to work on my new "grown up coloring book" as I call it. I've recently gotten back into coloring as it's always been a relaxing thing for me. My mom used to give me coloring books in high school and college during finals week, for a brain break of sorts. Smart mom ;)  These little "getaways" as we jokingly call them, are the only getaways Ryan and I go on anymore - an overnight at the hospital, woohoo! But we laugh and say, "hey we have a city view! and room service! and turn down with all the warm blankets we could want!"
Another favor-moment: they ordered a cot for Ry to sleep on, and it didn't come, and it didn't come - and finally when he put sheets and blankets on the fold-out chair next ot my bed, trying his best to make it comfortable - the cot arrived! My Ry has become quite the hospital-sleeping-chair reviewer connoisseur these past eighteen months, and the fold out chairs they have just don't cut it for my tall muscle man! I was so glad he could have an actual bed (if you can call a cot a bed?) because he needs his sleep! Caretaker of our treasure Miss V and me, full time dedicated worker at his job, committed wholeheartedly to serving in the House of God as much as he's able to while juggling everything else... and he's just all around a BOSS at loving and serving others and conquering life! Ry, if I haven't said it this week, you are my hero! Xoxo

We woke up to this funny tapping on our window, that kept tapping and tapping. My room was right against the roof of another section of the hospital and two seagulls were parked outside the room eyeing our snacks through the window!

I received two units of blood altogether overnight, and then as is their custom, barely at dawn someone from the lab came by to do a draw. My Hematocrit came back at 27. This was a little bummer for me, because one blood unit typically raises my count three points. If I started at 23, it should have technically been at 29 or 30. But 27 means I had dropped down to around 21 when I was admitted. 
I have got to get my STEAK on this week, red meat every night! and NO more bleeding! Calm down INR and PT, come back down to normal range. And liver, you are healthy! Make those clotting factors! You've done it so well for so long - you can do it again now!
...Don't you give your organs pep talks? I do, and find it quite helps :)

I ate breakfast and was thinking it was about time to get ready to go home, when the nurse came in and said the doctor overseeing my stay wanted me to get a Magnesium infusion, because my level was at a "critically low" point. I got a little upset, because this seems to happen every time I go in to the hospital. I'm expecting to be in and out just dealing with the issue we need to address, and then the doctors who oversee me but don't really know me or my health patterns, see things on my labs and want to keep me and do tests, treatments, etc. I sort of "negotiated" with them, because we needed to go pick up Miss V and I really wanted to go home and get some rest (I only got 90 minutes of sleep all night!). I agreed to go in to the outpatient infusion center close to my home that afternoon, if they would let me be discharged. So that's what we did.

Same day, different IV, different arm. Darn protocol - I had to have the good IV from my blood tx removed to leave the hospital, for just two hours or so, and then another IV put in my other arm for the Magnesium at the infusion center!
All worked out, except later that night I remembered why I refused Magnesium sulfate IVs the past few times they wanted to give me them... I had suffered an absolutely awful reaction to one of these last year, Benadryl did not even help the itching and burning on my skin. It was terrible! And that same thing happened to me at home Friday night. :(  But it's phasing out of my system more every day, thankfully.

Needless to say, it was a hectic twenty-four hours, but the important part is that I was able to get treated for things that needed treatment, and my sweet family ended up back together at home Friday night, safe and sound.
I'm grateful for the grace of God that carries us through these semi-chaotic bumps in the road. I always look back on them with good memories, smiles, and if something went wrong, we always have a laugh about it rather than bad feelings. God is good...


Light rises in the darkness for the upright;
    the Lord is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
Psalm 112:4 RSV