Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This Is Duke Medicine - NOT!

This is Duke Medicine is a slick advertising campaign the folks at Duke use to promote the wonderfulness of their staff and facilities. I am on a one woman campaign for them to walk the talk.

They should communicate (as in talk) to patients. Actually by patients, I mean me. I agree that many if not most of their staff, especially the professional staff, are very kind, very skilled and generally pretty darn competent and accommodating. But the system, well, that is another story.

Case in point: The "Who's On First" lab incident yesterday.

As I mentioned, I have been taken off the injectable blood thinners and put on Coumadin, a nice little once at bedtime pill. To monitor me for the first month or so, I need to get labs done. And they generally have to be from my arm, not the port, because they flush out the port with heparin, which messes with the results. So yesterday, I knew going in I was to stop at two labs and get two separate draws. Or so I thought. Stopped in at 2C, the hematology clinic where I get seen for the blood issues, and "you are not in the computer" here, but go to 1D, my regular lab. So down I go, and yes, I am scheduled there, but only for the complete blood count I get every Monday. So I tell them the story and they say, you have to deal with 2C, we cannot change this. And no, they cannot page my doctor.

But I am due to chemo treatment, so upstairs I go, check in and then wait the usual one hour delay before entering the room. My nurse, Paula, is great, and I ask her to page the hematologist. She does and has her call my cell to make it all easier.

So then the labs are set up again, we do two, one from the port and one from the arm to compare the values. Just to see the differences.

While hooked up to my tubes, I get a call from 2C stating I should come over at 11:30 and have that blood draw done. I explain I am a bit out of control of when they will disconnect me from the chemo, but that once disconnected, I would come there post-haste. Which I do, but closer to 12:45 PM.

So I check in, port still in because I think they are doing a port draw and an arm draw. I check in at 2C, and there is still confusion about the port, and whether once the blood is drawn, whether they will de-access me, since I did not do that in chemo as I usually do. They tell me that is not their job, that I should go back after the blood draw to chemo and let them do it.

At this point, I am over 1.5 hours later than I thought I would be, tired from the whole drug infusions and pre-medications and I have to go to Costco. So I am a little pissy. Finally a supervisor appears, to "soothe me" and tell me that they will be doing the port draw, even though "we don't usually do this sort of thing". Jeeez. I thought a doctor's order pretty much was the be all, end all there. Then a nice woman, Shauna, comes and takes me back into the lab to draw blood from my port. I complain to her, nothing personal, but doesn't the patient ever get listened to? She is sympathetic and also willing to de-access my port, a very good thing.

Then I get my arm draw done, and wouldn't you know it, a bruise appears within the hour. You would think that in hematology clinic, where people have bleeding disorders, that the techs would be the best and not leave so many bruises. I hardly ever bruise with the lab person at UNC, but sadly, those days are over for my blood letting. But I wear my bruises like badges of honor and survival!

I leave, go to Costco, where I run into two friends, then off to get cat food and then run to Morehead for a meeting with the IEP team. I arrive sweaty (post chemo hot flashes, common but damp) and we have a great beginning of term meeting. It is clear that the folks on the team think Sofie is a great kid, which is so nice for us as parents. Sofie is doing better already this term, the tutoring kept her on point and she is truly a second grader, albeit one with slower reading due to her visual problems most likely. We continue to work on that. This is the year she will learn cursive writing, everyone remember that? I have terrible cursive writing, being a lefty and all (well, that was my excuse for years) and so I went out and got a plastic placemat with the proper style for capital and smaller letters. I truly had forgotten how to do it!!!

Am I smarter than a fifth grader? I should try second grader!! I do pretty well on Jeopardy College Finals Edition, however. Jeopardy is something I love to watch, although at 7 PM I usually am doing other things!

So today, Wednesday, I was going to try to go to work, but awoke with that not so right feeling in my body, plus it is 95 degrees out there much for the beginning of fall weather. That usually is October here, but the days of mid-80's were lovely while they lasted. So I am home, writing, trying to catch up with my life. Having cancer is a big job, lots of clinic and treatment appointments to schedule, meds to track, lawyer appointments, etc. It is at least a half time job. Unpaid of course, but still important.

And since school has started, my Room Parent job is back in force too. I love doing it, a bit of organizing but for her wonderful school, so I enjoy pretty much all of it. Her teachers crack me up, they were talking the other day about being "two fat, middle aged women with hot flashes" and how they used that to get a new air conditioner for their classroom. I guess the Principal was not going to go there with two women with mood swings!!!

I just pull the C-card, when I need to. It works great.

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