Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jerome and Perry, the tale of a Port-a-cath and a J-tube.

It has been two weeks since Perry got put in and Jerome changed out. I'm just starting to get my energy back and finding my groove with two new men in my life. By men, I mean tubes with boys names. The first week was a write off in terms of me being physically able to do anything. It's not like getting Perry put in was some big surgery or anything, but because of the way my body works it knocked me out. When I was talking with the surgeon beforehand, I made sure he knew that I wanted Perry put up high on my chest. The reason for it is because I didn't want the tube going into my jugular vein to be pulled, and finding comfortable clothes would be easier. When they were doing the procedure, I reminded the team of it again. Sedatives don't really do much for me. So as it stands, Perry is on my boob and the tube going into my jugular vein is always pulled and tight. Wearing push-up bras, v-neck or scooped neck shirts kind of help things. It doesn't help that I use my pectoral muscles for everything that my shoulders should be doing. Having Perry placed where he is, has been taking a lot of getting used to. I'm getting a lot better at not hitting my boob and I had to learn to hug again. The first time I hugged someone with Perry accessed, it hurt like a mofo. The incisions are healing well and the bruising is almost gone. I love the fact that it only takes 1 attempt to get him accessed and it doesn't really hurt. It's so much better than multiple attempts at digging around and blowing out veins. I'm getting 2L of fluids over 3hrs everyday. I refused a pump and have the freedom to be hooked up in my room, the living room and the front porch. The funny thing is I'm taking better care of myself at home than I was getting in the hospital. I'm so thankful that I can do things my way.

Jerome, he's healing well with some funky scaring and I've had no problems with him. Except that I still really hate the type of tube that he his. I cut those white pointy bits off the tube and have found that my skin prefers to hold Jerome in place with Tegaderm rather than paper-tape, and the red plastic attachment is sharp and scratchy. I just really dislike the fact that it's uncomfortable and I can't un-hook this tube and forget about it like I could with the mic-key button. There are bonuses with this tube, one is that I don't need the expensive extension tube for the mic-key button, which does not come with a cap or lid, so I had been putting it in a Ziplock bag. Secondly, I can lay on my stomach comfortably which I couldn't do with the mic-key. However, now that I have Perry I can't really lay on my stomach. Bleh.

Overall, I'm feeling okay if I have my fluids and pretty much everyone who sees me says I'm looking better. I still have dysautonomia spikes but they're less frequent and not as intense. GI wise, if I'm not really using my Jerome or eating I'm okay. I still have the awesome puking abilities. Lentils and quinoa that I had eaten 12 hours prior didn't want to stay down, I even get lentils stuck in my nose as part of the side show. Aren't you glad I told you? I'm refluxing pretty much everything except that plain chips, rice noodles, mangoes and coconut juice are relatively okay. I still eat other things because I need the nutrients, I love food and if I'm going to barf, it's going to be worth it.

I'm still working out a routine and efficient way to work in Perry and everything that comes along with it. After a week of fighting with home-care I finally have a care-plan that works for me. The one they gave me had to be refused and worked out a couple of times. It was well worth it. Living with EDS means a lot of loss and a lot of compromise. One thing I will not compromise is my quality of life.

I still get headaches and migraines everyday but with the fluids, being in low light or darkness, quiet and laying down are helping. I've got the brightness on my laptop turned all the way down which helps a bit, but after a while it gets too bright,things get blurry and I see double. I can get about 3-4 hrs of being upright and out & about before I'm toast.

Meds have been pretty straight forward. I'm barfing a little less with Oxycodone and it's helping with pain reduction by about 50%. I chickened out again on doing a Propranolol trial, the weekend prior was just to nice outside to be wasted on experiencing side-effects, and this past weekend I was feeling gross so I didn't want to punish myself anymore. Since I'm using Perry everyday it means I need to have it flushed with Heparin everyday. We decreased the dosage a bit because I'm a bit of a bleeder to start with and also because of the frequency that I'm using it. That's all going well, I've noticed that little cuts bleed more, and my mouth gets cut and blisters a little more easily than before but nothing crazy.

I've got some pretty insane cabin fever at times, but manage to get Jack-Jack out for an hour's walk everyday. I can finally didgeridoo again which makes me so happy, I was going a little crazy for a while. Otherwise things are getting better as I'm adjusting and wrapping my head around having two tubes. I'm starting to trust more, letting friends help and not worrying about being uppity and energetic when I'm drained. The things I'm having the hardest time with is not being able to work or being active. Those two things were my life, which means I still have a lot of work to do and need to keep trying to find new outlets and passions. When I'm laying around at home during the day I feel lazy, like I should be working and that I need to always be doing something productive. When I start my day with pain-killers or anytime I take them, I feel like someone who needs to be on Intervention. I dislike how I feel when I'm taking them, and wish so much that I didn't need them. Then I realize after not taking the meds that I am always in pain, I am chronically sick and I can't work right now. I guess I'm paranoid that people see me as someone who's taking advantage of the system and getting a free ride. It's not like having one of those "sick days" where some people skip out on work for the day. I would love to be able to work again.

Since most of our bendy posse sees a lot of the same doctors, we often are in the neighbourhood at the same time so we like to try and meet for a bite to eat. Toronto has some excellent food options for any GI or TMJ friendly diet.
Last week a bunch of us met for brunch (which we found out isn't the best idea for some of us) and later on in the week we met for Thai, and had lunch with the most delightful, almost 11yr old zebra. Right now everyone in our bendy posse seems to be holding their own, which is so nice after the insane summer we all had. A bunch of us have big surgeries coming up and I think we're all enjoying the stability and taking it easy. And just for fun, I'm going to leave you with quotes from our bendy sista' Tiffany who had her tonsils finally taken out after 3yrs of doctor fighting. I love that girl.

"I'm a bit cheeky, so I'm wearing a Dr. Pepper shirt that reads, 'Trust me, I'm a doctor' to my surgery ;-P"

"I am working on my relationship with my couch. It's important to spend quality time together."

"Rosanne is getting her own reality show. You know who would make an awesome reality show? Celine Dion. You know you would watch. You'd be ashamed and wouldn't tell anyone, but you'd watch for sure"

I like my murse... He's taking good care of me." (In reference to her husband)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Introducing Perry, my port. On to plan "F" let's hope it works!

After jumping through what seems like a million hoops, and going in constant circles we finally have a game plan to get my GI craziness sorted. We're on to plan "F". Part of that plan includes a port for hydration until I get the Nissen Fundoplication. After the surgery, I'll be able to use Jerome again, but he'll be a g-tube.

I had a consult with a thoracic surgeon a couple weeks ago, and luckily it went really well. I'm not going to get into it, but he got to see me when I was at my best. I was hooked up the Joey-pump and refluxing like crazy, had a killer headache and my vitals were all over the place. Based on my long and complex GI history, paired with everything else he thought it would be in my best interest to see what he could do to improve my quality of life. We're going to re-do a whole bunch of my old tests, and do some new ones so he knows exactly what's going on with me. On the way home from one of my appointments, Jerome's balloon popped so he needed to be replaced asap.

Getting Perry put in and Jerome replaced was a bit of an ordeal. I had a date booked to get Perry placed and Jerome replaced, and was called the night before saying they were going to cancel because I was supposed to have blood-work done before hand. There was no way in hell I was going to let that happen. Jerome had been sticking out and was painful for 2 days already, I didn't want to risk infection and the thought of multiple attempts to get an IV going wasn't something I could deal with anymore. It was then decided that I'd to the ER stupid early, so they could do the blood-work and save the appointment. By then it needed to be a 2 in 1 procedure and I was at the end of my rope. Luckily the ER staff were fantastic, I got fluids, blood-work sent off and the appointment was saved!

Because of my awesome body, the surgeon had a hard time getting Perry in and Jerome out. I was given an insane amount of locals and sedatives, none of which really worked. I could feel everything they were doing and it was effing painful, especially when they had to really dig at my jugular vein. It seemed to surprise everyone that despite being given so many drugs I carried on a conversation with the team in IR the whole time, then walked out of the room like nothing had happened. My iron liver isn't just from practice...

Getting Perry put in was also an opportunity for me to face some big fears and do some growing. I have some major trust issues, especially when at the hospital. Lack of trust is also another reason why I don't sleep when I'm there, and am always hyper-vigilant. I knew the 2 in 1 would be a lot for me to handle, so I swallowed my pride, fulfilled my end of a bendy friend pact and asked for help. I was very lucky to have a friend who knows her stuff come with me. She knew when I needed something, didn't smother me, and made sure I was comfortable both physically and emotionally. It was the first time I've ever felt safe enough to completely let my guard down, and just be. She took incredible care of me and is officially the first person I've let take care of, and put meds through Jerome. I'm so happy and thankful that she came.

This was taken right after I realized that J popped his balloon. A mic-key button is supposed to last anywhere from 3-8 mts. Jerome lasted 5 so I can't complain.

Because we replaced Jerome last minute, there wasn't enough time to get funding approval for the mic-key button. It's back to the penis Jerome until the fundo when we'll put the button back. Notice it's twisted to the side, yeah I can't untwist it. Constant tape rash again, yes please! I hate,hate,hate this tube.

Perry in all of his glory. My boob is so itchy and bruised. I'm hoping we'll be good friends and he keeps me out of the hospital.

No more IV's for a while, Perry will be taking one for the team. I really won't miss being poked about 9 times to find a vein for it to only last a day or two.

Jack-Jack the healing dog. He always knows when someone isn't feeling well and gives the best doggy hugs. When I came home he wouldn't leave me, and sat beside me with a look of concern in his eyes during the post-op barf-fest.

"I apparently provided 3 hours of entertainment and a sing-a-long during my MRIs. Everything fromKid Rock and Michael Jackson to a stirring rendition of Candle In the Wind (complete with alternate lyrics and giggles from the awesomest and extremely cute rad tech)."

"So... would the MRI pics of the inside of my brain be considered zombie porn...?"