Tuesday, December 1, 2009

After-Action Report: 11/23 - 11/25

My apologies for not keeping up with the blog. I have been prevented from updating it recently for a variety of reasons; I won't go into these in any detail, preferring instead to devote what little energy I have right now to providing an abbreviated play-by-play of the past week or so, in several installments. So, without further ado:

Monday 11/23: I spent much of the morning on the phone with someone who is going to handle my application for
Social Security Administration disability benefits. I am required to do this by the LTD insurance company currently covering me; but this company has in turn hired another company that specializes in navigating the shoals and bayous of the SSA's application process, which can evidently take five or six months. The first half of the afternoon was taken up by a pretty good physical therapy session.

Tuesday 11/24: Another physical therapy session in late morning to early afternoon. As soon as I returned home, I received a call from the Hopkins transplant coordinator, saying that the oncologist was troubled by some irregularity in my EKG. She wanted me to see a cardiologist down there about this on Wednesday, instead of following the established schedule. Doing this would be mildly catastrophic, since it would alter the entire schedule, pushing everything back; this would of course involve a lot of work. I proposed that she instead fax the troublesome EKG to my local cardiologist, and I would make an attempt (admittedly very unlikely to meet with success) to see him that same afternoon. By some miracle, a cancellation had opened up a 3:00 P.M. appointment. When I arrived, the cardiologist was ready for me; he hand-waved the Hopkins EKG, saying that it was identical to the one he had taken in August. In any case, he saw nothing about it that would justify delaying the transplant. He faxed a note to this effect to Hopkins before COB, thus rescuing the transplant schedule. A major bullet dodged.

Wednesday 11/25: Arriving at Hopkins at 1:30 P.M., we received training around my catheter: how to flush the lumens with Heparin, how to replace the caps; and how to change the dressing around the surgical wound. We also practiced the sub-cutaneous growth factor injections I will be giving myself at home. Finally, we met with the "attending oncologist" -- the oncologist who will actually run the show -- to sign the consents. This again reminded me of a real estate closing, in terms of the number of forms to be signed. This oncologist felt obliged to inform me of Hopkins' 95% survival rate for stem cell transplants. The remaining 5% of course makes more precise the chief oncologist's description of the chances of a fatality as being "not zero". For the return home, we joined the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend parade on I-95, which turned out to be not nearly the nightmare we were fearing.

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