Today I started my pre-transplant testing and throughout the entire day I felt like a dog chasing its tail; running around in circles and never going to catch it. We were scheduled to arrive at Northwestern at 8:45 to pick up my lab orders. We actually arrived early (hard to believe with Ann, I know!) and noticed four people in line ahead of us. After standing there for about five minutes and the line not moving, we noticed one lady was working behind the counter trying to do the job of three. Trying to be patient and optimistic for the day ahead however as the minutes ticked away so did my patience. After 25 minutes we finally approached the desk only to be handed a stack of orders and sent to another area of the hospital for the labs to be drawn. Once arriving at the blood draw center, I noticed it had more of a resemblance of a butcher shop. You pull a number and wait for your number to be called. After I drew my number I realized I still had at least 10 people ahead of me. There was no way I would be making my next appointment scheduled for 9:30. After 20 minutes of meditation and Ann consoling me, it was finally our turn. Because my orders were 14 pages long, the unit clerk checked and rechecked and checked them again to ensure she had entered all of the orders into her computer and printed the correct labels. Bless her soul, this took another 20 minutes. Once back in the room waiting for the blood drawer lady to show it became apparent that today's appointments were going to fall like a set of dominoes. Luckily the lady was a good stick and she quickly filled all the tubes. However, once she took out the needle and began labeling the tubes, she realized that we were one short. Break out another tourniquet and needle! As we scurried away from the lab, we realized that we were 45 minutes late for my pulmonary function test (PFT). I apologetically approached the reception desk outside of the PFT area because I was so late for this appointment. The woman behind the desk was so helpful and so nice, she referred us to a patient care rep, Alex, who quickly grabbed our papers and banged on his computer for about five minutes. He was able to successfully reroute our appointments and somehow we were back on track for the day. I told him that he was my new hero. So now we are feeling good for the day. Things are looking up for us! After my PFT was completed, I headed up to have my 2-D Echo testing. The test was going oh so smoothly. I was laying on the table with my eyes closed, day dreaming the day away when we came to the part of the test that required an IV to be placed in my arm. In walked a nurse armed with her trusty tourniquet, needles and alcohol swabs only to leave the room calling for help after two missed attempts to start an IV. Now called into action was the older, wiser nurse on the floor who came into the room with confidence. Only to leave the room shaking her head as she too missed on her two attempts to start the IV. At this point it was decided that I should just go ahead and do my next test which was an MRI where an IV would need to be started. The nurses in the ECHO lab kindly wrote the nurses in MRI a note asking for them to leave the IV in so that they could finish their job after the MRI was completed. Now this was the part of the day I had been dreading most. The infamous MRI. Earlier in the year I had a failed attempt in the MRI machine. This time, I came armed with two Ativan pills to ensure that the MRI would be a success. Success it was. But you should have seen the look on those nurses' faces when I came in with my arms speckled with gauze and band-aids from elbow to wrist. The MRI nurse confidently looked at my arms, found the vein and started an IV with one stick. After 2 1/2 hours of laying in the MRI machine having crazy Ativan induced dreams I strutted back up to the echo lab, showing off my new IV for them to use. As the day wound down, so did the excitement. We rounded out the day with an uneventful EKG and chest x-ray. Just remember you never want your nurse that starts your IV to have the motto of "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."
It has been a long day, but we know that these days are bringing us closer to our ultimate goal. They are a necessary evil and we are continuing to try to find the humor in our big adventure.