Saturday, February 09, 2013

A certain Kind of maddness Creeps in after a few Days at the Hospital

Being inpatient at the hospital when your kid is being treated for cancer is so difficult. It is impossible to maintain your sanity and sense of humor for more than 6 days.  Max.

First you have the worry of being there if it is not a regularly scheduled admission.  You are there because you child has some unusual unknown bug.  While you might be there for a fever, in Cancer World they are dedicated to finding out exactly what it is.  They draw blood cultures and bunches of Petri dishes full of lemon jello sit around and stew until something grows. 

Lots of times nothing grows and you are still stuck.  If the fever is high enough they put the kids on a broad spectrum antibiotic, sort of like a Z-Pack.  The shot gun approach.  These kids are then stuck until they finish 14 days of the stuff because usually it is IV.  You are already going to be there 8 days beyond sanity and it is just a bone they throw you and they don't mean to ever let you out. 

Then a few days in (3ish) they figure out what you really have and a new type of antibiotic is chosen from the shelf.  It has been pre-tested to see what works the best.  Then you wait again, sometimes the days start over.  

At that point you know for sure that you are there at least two weeks.  But.... it might be longer depending on how low the ANC is at the time.  If the counts are lower then 200 your are stuck like a bug on a windshield waiting some more. 

So you wait.  You wait for every blood draw. You wait for every temperature reading.  You wait to see what comes from the kitchen. You wait to see if she chooses "the dress".  You wait for rounds before a shower because they might have some news. you wait for the platlett YOu  wait for the other closet of shoes to drop. YoU wait for the next does of meds.  You wait for a pint of blood because the bone marrow is not working. You watch more  Dark Shadows and fold more crane. 

During the waiting you worry.  Why is the bone marrow not working? What do we have to do to get out? What did we do wrong? How could this happen to our child?  Did we make the wrong/right decision? Or my favorite:  Remember that day you helped someone put Round-up on their yard and two weeks later you found out you were pregnant and now your child has leukemia?  

When you know how long the admission is going to be 80 days for transplant or 4 for chemo, it is very doable.  You go in, you know the drill, you know the goal.  Because you are headed into a certain specific direction it is survivable   This is what we have to do to go home. 

It is when you have no idea, no control, no sense of when it is going to end.  If there is a bug then you have to be in isolation   (Not even able to use the on-floor bathrooms. I decided not to say "pee on the floor") Everything anyone brings you has to stay in the room.  Everyone has to gown up. Your secret supply of real food has to be heated by a nurse.  You cannot even go to the family room and fill your water pitcher.  It is a fresh kind of hell.  250 square feet with a bed, a chair beeping things and lots of other crazy stuff. 

The minute you hit the room after an eternity in the filthy and more then disgusting ER, you are fighting to get out.  

The other part of this whole thing is they keep talking to us about Shangri La, Or the New hospital wing.  Even though the Cancer kids raise millions in funding and their care pretty much carries the hospital budget, they are in horrible outdated rooms.  They are awful. I don't think they have touched them since the 80's  Mauve has gone there to die.
 The bathrooms are closets, the fixtures are falling apart. Because they get to move into the new part of the hospital, they quit fixing things on the floor about a year ago.  There is a room where 4 people stay that has not had hot water for more then a year.  "too  much to fix it" I was told by the plumber to just use Purell.  Hello!!! anyone read all the information about how HAND WASHING is the only really way to go?

Oh, dear, see I still suffer from Long Stay in the Hospital PTSD.  When I read about someone being there and slowly  unraveling as they wait and pace and try to maintain their sanity, I start to go to that dark place. 

Okay, enough.  Just know until you have done one of those hard long stays, you will never ever understand.  But thanks for trying...... 

1 comment:

Jackie said...

You nailed it again! Jackie