Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Incompetent Goon

I'm dripping in a massive pool of frustration and astonishment over my treatment tonight.

The unfortunate side effect of Catheter Succubus is that now I've segued from knowing all the PCT's personally to an unfortunate pool of nurses of varying quality.

I often wonder what the interview process is like.

"Ok, hello. Welcome. This will only take a sec. Do you have nursing experience in a Dialysis setting?"

The interviewee's skin becomes clammy as their bloodshot eyes give way to a nervous, stammering tick.

"Well, um, yeah, like, ok, sure. Whatever."

"You're hired!!"

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Easy-Going Nurse. He has a vast knowledge from years in all types of nursing and always puts up with my shenanigans.

I should probably clarify.

When I arrive at Dialysis, my mood morphs suddenly from Gappy-Go-Lucky Mirthathon Stacy to Foul, Sarcastic, Railing Against the World Stacy.

And the techs fully understand that. When they ask me how I'm doing and I reply, "Half past dead" they understand I'm not being serious.

Because I've been a Dialysis patient longer than "The Office" has been on the air, I expect everyone to understand my verbal foibles.

That means I must train a whole new series of employees on the Tao of Stacy.

Not an easy task.

I mentioned Easy Going Nurse. There's also Stilted Accent Nurse. She seems to have a fair amount of knowledge concerning the massive world of nursing, but she drives me frickin' insane every treatment.

She speaks as loud as possibly acceptable in a clinic setting and drives her words seventy miles over the speed limit. Combined with an accent that instantly changes the meaning of words, its a complete nightmare.

"Heyyo Mr. Stacy. How are you dis avening?"

"Just unclamp my lines and pour in some cyanide so we can get this over with."

The world within our vicinity freezes as she holds my paperwork in mid-air. She leans in close and attempts to whisper, "Do you needz da soshul workerz?"

I stare her down a moment, then to Simply Sarcastic Tech who has joined our new trio.

"I'm kidding! I'm joking! You're holding up the line here."

I realize I should be nicer, but my urine has been flowing through my veins for the last six hours, so I'm not to be trifled with.

The training for this young padawan has just begun, so I'll cut her some slack.

Tonight though, was unbelievable.

I was introduced to Slub-A-Dub Nurse. Shuffling about the clinic like he's at the mall.

I was called in early to find that my machine wasn't fully cleaned at 5pm when I arrived.

Forty-five minutes later I had to ask one of the techs to call this guy back to check on my machine.

Apparently his Cheetos laden blood had slowed his thought process to the point of no return.

Yanking my lines. Please don't yank. Shoving my lines. Please don't shove. Dabbed a minute amount of alcohol pad around the exit site. Please use a proper amount to clean the area.

A quick Lincoln-Douglas debate started in my head between which was more lacking: his work ethic or bedside manner.

Finally, all taped up and ready to delve into the world of "Rescue Me" for the next two hours while he waddles away. At least that's over with.

Quiz time! My treatment started at 5:48pm. My runtime is two hours. What time should I be removed from the machine.

If you said 7:48pm, you're Einstein compared to Slub-A-Dub.

At exactly 7:20pm, the machine signals I'm done.

I didn't verbalize it, but in my head I'm screaming, "What the fuck motherfucker goddamn fucking retard asshole fucked up my goddamn treatment? How the fuck is simple time management a course in biochemistry? Fuckfuckfuckfuck."

Simply Sarcastic Tech came over and knew it wasn't time yet. This was mentioned to Slub-a-Dub who said the most hilarious thing all day.

"I wonder how that happenned."

One of the added incentives of six day a week, two hour treatments is when the unlikely chance that I have plans arise, I can call ahead and tell them I'm not coming in.

Monday evening before I step on to the Fart Ravaged clinic floor, I will ask the administrator who the scheduled nurse is for each treatment day this week.

If Slub-a-Dub's name makes an appearance in my future, I'll just skip a treatment.

I know, but I don't have time for rational thinking.

The worst part of all is as I was leaving the clinic, I tripped over my own IQ points spilling from my skull.

Thanks Slub-a-Dub. I'm dumber for having experienced you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

60 Seconds In the True Life of a Dialysis Patient

Occasionally people muster enough compassion and curiosity to ask what's it like to be on Dialysis.

This fantastic clip from the last few episodes of "ER" epitomize it beautifully and tragically:

Since his character has only been on Dialysis for a few weeks, I'm going to be very disappointed if he gets a cadaver kidney. It would do a disservice to those unaware of what Dialysis patients endure and would take the TV cop out that most shows seem to embrace (I'm talking to you "Nip/Tuck")

I've returned to "ER" after seasons away to see how they handle this character's predicament.

For the sake of all of us suffering through this horrible treatment, lets hope after fifteen years of quality television, they don't let us down in the end.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Changing of the Guard

I am a dichotomy of strangers fused at the hip.

Stacy West doesn't care for change. He fights it, abhors it and must entirely deny its existence.

Ten years toiling in the same flightless job. Eight years in cahoots with my short bed truck.

BLT's, burritos and bagels every single week, from the very same places repeat and repeat.

Yet Stacy East finds pleasure in variety and change dressed in a flowing dress of unpredictability.

I present these Stacy Facts to you to illustrate how wonderfully capable Stacy As a Whole is able to handle the latest physical traumas thrown my way.

As my doctors will detail in full frustration, I put off procedures as long as possible then cancel three days ahead and reschedule a month later in hopes that the need for said undertaking will cease and desist.

That, obviously, is never the case.

My Latest Dialysis Access began life as simple tubing, inserted by an egotistical doctor with a bad attitude.

Who knew boy had skills?

Thirteen years and seven months later, after telling numerous nurses not to cuff or needle my access arm, it was all over.

The Stacy Dialysis Access died a quiet death at the hands of a vascular surgeon at 1:15pm on Thursday, March 12th.

His tomb is my upper arm, a reminder of just how much life he brought for the last five years.

When our relationship began, we fought all the time. The needle pain he allowed pushed me from hating his presence to hating the entire me.

But as time went by, and we learned to work concurrently, I forgave him.

And now he is no more. He sacrificed himself for a Brand New Stacy Access with strength and vitality, yet no knowledge of what's to come.

Stacy Dialysis Access was such a presence in my life, it takes two to replace him.

Joining Brand New Stacy Access in a bold new attempt to save my life is Catheter Succubus.

She has claimed the entire upper right quadrant of my chest as her own, creating pain that varies in volume from hour to hour.

My New Access Scar is only four inches long and rarely makes a sound. But Catheter Succubus desires my attention loudly and without remorse.

Moments before I'm to swallow another 1000mg. of Norco, she cackles at my weakness.

"You're trying to forget me aren't you? AREN'T YOU???"

"You got it Cath. Now shut the fuck up while I take these pills and lie my skinny ass down."

Yeah, its that type of relationship.

Brand New Dialysis Access begs for us to keep it down, to allow him to rest in peace, but the chance of that is slim.

And not only is Cath temperamental, she has strict rule to follow.

"Hey, what're you doin' there pal? Got yourself a Ziploc bag and some plastic tape, hmmm. No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO YOU DON'T. DON'T TAPEMCOQPUDACIEMC.ZOEUQ"

Her protestations are hard to decipher through impenatrable plastic.

I take the most careful shower of my existence. Make sure not to have the water streams poke directly at my chest. Turn my body a certain way to keep the water at a minimal rate. Cut shower short to lessen impact of water.

Once back in my bedroom I removed my plastic shield and Cath was shaking. Her voice was trembling and she spoke softly and gently.

"Please. Don't, um, well, please don't, um, please don't do that again, ok?"

With a little smile on my face, I responded. "Whatsamatter?"

"Well, um..." There were tears nearly streaming down her tubing. "...if I get wet I could catch an infection. And that would be bad for both of us."

I paused momentarily as I adjusted my boxers from my ankles to my waist.

"You know, you're right Cath, that could be disastorous. But I'm big on hygiene."

We both stood in the middle of my bedroom, moist and musing upon our future together.

I slowly rested myself vertically on the bed and glanced up toward the ceiling. This was my position of choice when I needed to think.

"How about I shower only every other day? That would better our odds by 50% and wouldn't traumatize you so much. How does that sound?"

Cath was quiet for a moment, but then spoke gently, barely above a whisper.

"Sounds good. Thank you, you're very kind."

We both continued to rest, enjoying the soft hum of my oscillating fan. But then Brand New Stacy Access spoke up.

"OhmyGod...that was awesome! Little droplets of water dancing upon my edges, it felt so good, so very good Lets do it again!"

Cath and I turned to each other and said in unison, "Shut the hell up."

For a few moments longer, all was quiet in the world of Stacy's Body.