The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty

Well, good middle of the night, everyone!

Foreign correspondent Nik here, to report on the latest events from the Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

First thing's first: there is not a sign of cancer!!! The doctor came in to confirm their original impressions (though the official pathology report will take a few days yet), and we went just about giddy. He said they opened her up and everything apart from the mass looked clean and healthy. They didn't even bother to remove the appendix, which they were planning on doing. Best news possible at this point!

What made today particularly difficult, though, and all but eclipsed the discomfort of post-surgery, was the migraine. It started quite early on -- around 8:30am -- but because they have to put in an order from the pharmacy every time a new medication is called for, the Imitrex didn't reach her in time to act as any sort of prophylactic. And anyone who knows Mom's migraines knows that once it reaches that point, there's no stopping it. Thank God they had already given her anti-nausea medication earlier, or she'd have been vomiting from the pain. But frustratingly, the staff didn't seem to realize that this wasn't some mildly uncomfortable "headache" as a result of the surgery: this was a separate, excruciating, urgent condition that was likely triggered, but not caused, by the surgery. They of course had no experience with Mom's notorious lack of response to narcotic pain medication, and so kept trying to tell us that the morphine drip she was already on for the surgery itself should "take the edge off". I realize they were just trying to follow procedure, and, not knowing the patient's background, wanted to start out step by step, experimenting with the smallest little half-measures instead of just slamming it down in one fell swoop. But they also wouldn't listen to us! We repeatedly reassured them that we knew exactly what had worked in the past and what hadn't, that we'd already done this whole series of trial & error at the VA hospital in Tucson, so just give her the damned Demerol and have done with it!

Well, to skip over the next *ten hours* of hemming and hawing on their parts, being first inactive and then indecisive -- Mom ended up swimming in half-effective narcotics, pupils the size of purely theoretical particles and remarking that now she was on drugs and suffering a migraine -- the staff finally changed. A brusque Valkyrien doctor came swooping in and declared first her name, then her intention to get Mom's head out of its vise. She was followed by a competent, businesslike, thoughtful young nurse who anticipated all of Mom's needs, checked back frequently just to give us updates, and who then decided to just go forward with the Delaudid (a Demerol counterpart) while we were still waiting for the order to be written, because Mom had "waited long enough for it." Huzzah! I think I must send both of these women chocolates.

So now she's finally getting the closest thing to peace she's had all day, and I'm settling in on my little trundle chair. She still hasn't eaten anything, but hopefully now that the migraine is on its way out, she can focus more on getting her belly to heal. I'm in suspense to see how she feels in the morning!

All inconsiderate, non-Demerol-dispensing, first-round doctors aside, the Magee Women's Hospital is awfully nice. It looks more like a fine hotel, with spacious, elegant, oak decor -- even the curtains covering the large windows of our room are done up in a sort of rose-and-gold, softly Klimt style. Mom has her own room, replete with bathroom. And get this: the food isn't automatically brought to patients on a sort of "here's lunch" schedule. Instead, each room comes with a truly gourmet menu -- seared ahi tuna, anyone? -- provided room-service style! You call down anytime between 8am and 11pm, order whatever and however much you'd like, and they bring it on up. This probably works so well because most patients wouldn't have much of an appetite between surgery and being discharged. But their guests do! Guests' trays cost an extra $6.50, but hey, for all you can eat off a restaurant-quality menu? Bring it up!

Well, I think I'm going to try to join Mom in the shuteye department. Things are only looking up from here, and she's being well looked-after now. I'll send any updates as they arise!

I hope everyone is having a happy, healthy day. Love to all!