cancer, eating, ER, head/neck cancer, Kevin Costner, Lovenox, nutrition, OR, oral cancer, PEG tube, radical neck disection, saline, saline solution, self-injection, Steely Dan, surgery, swallowing, Tom Hanks, tongue flap
(Steely Dan reference)
I probably should have referenced Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Snake Ranch here. I had a snake on my hands, after all. The new PEG tube, such as it was, lounged, at its end, down around my knees or thereabouts. And it had no features. I had to add my own.
And then my stomach did what stomachs do and began to suck the tube inside of itself. I did not know at first. I experienced cramps, severe cramps. To make that long story short, I finally realized that I was no longer suffering PEG tube envy because there was only about a foot of that olive tube left out in public. The rest was buried inside of me somewhere. Genius that I am, I began pulling on the tube, and it began to come out. And it came out. And then more came out. Pretty soon, I was feeling good again, and most of the tube was back out in the open where it belonged. I realized that without a bumper on the tube, my stomach would be just as happy to swallow the whole thing.
I scheduled some time in the OR, and in there I got to see the magic at work. No pain, by the way. I was wide-awake with no drugs. They had an ultrasound machine over top of me, and I was wrapped like Dustin Hoffman in a virus epidemic movie, but there was no problem.
In truth, the nurses and the intern/resident did all of the work. The hoity-toity Doc came in at the last minute, verified all was cool, and left. That’s why he gets the big bucks. But I enjoyed the company of the intern/resident and the nurses. They let me know it was no big deal, despite the fact I was wrapped in a cocoon of blue Saran wrap-type stuff nearly from head to toe, and even though they did one foolish thing, assuming that the olive drab piece was correctly placed, overall they did a great job, and that replacement lasted until exactly yesterday.
This time, it didn’t exactly fall out. A certain knowledgeable person of my acquaintance decided to tape my dressing, and I am not used to that, so when I acted to replace that dressing, I just started pulling it away, forgetting the tape, and out came the PEG tube. It did not hurt. Physically. Mentally, I said a number of things, to myself, about myself, and stuck the tube back in. I am not sure that is a good idea for all of you folks at home. I am a professional PEG tube-sticker-back-inner. Do not try this at home!
I was surprised that it went in so easily, frankly, and thought to myself, well, then, maybe we have averted a crisis. But I could feel the difference and knew that I was lying to myself, if in fact I was believing myself (I am a professional liar…Do not try that at home!).
I decided, or my son decided, I should say, most accurately, that we should get a professional opinion, other than one of a professional liar or a professional PEG tube-sticker-back-inner. That would be my wife, of course.
She decided that I needed to go to the ER and I was imagining all of the things that happened last time and was not happy about that, but agreed that I needed to do that, before the wound covered up.
I will save you a little suspense: she rightly suspected that I would NOT go to the ER on my own. She was wrong this time. Finally. She was wrong. Woohoo! 🙂
I went back to the same ER that had taken me through the blood clot episode just last week, and they were their usual bright, friendly and efficient selves. In fact, the doctor put the tube in, exactly the tube that had come out, with all of the high dollar features ( :)) and I thought, man, this is awesome. Before I left, I did point out that I had what appeared to be a bit of leakage, and he said that was to be expected. No complaints from me.
And home I went!
Life is wonderful. Especially when you are having fun.
I ate through the tube, and all was cool. I do not mean that I ate THROUGH the tube. I mean that I used the tube through which to eat, in case you were confused. I could only continue to shake my head at the difference between one ER and the other. Until the thing fell out in my lap while I was in the CSN chat room. What the hell?
Mrs. Soccerfreaks? I woke my wife with, Um, Houston, I have a problem (she loves Tom Hanks, now that Kevin Costner dumped his wife for someone younger). She woke from her sleep, saw the thing, noted that the balloon had deflated, and took care of it. She found a saline syringe (the ER doc had used air, but I know that my previous OR experience included saline as well), did her testing, stuck it in, blew it up, and here we are. Safe and sound. Please be advised that we do not normally keep syringes of any kind hanging around the house. It happens that I had a staph infection, and, more recently, this last week, in fact, some Lovenox self-injections. We are a pharmacy here. But that is also part of the cancer experience for some of us, I know.
I would like to trim that down, and do so when I can, mindful now that pain management is a critical part of any successful campaign. Still… I like to trim it down. I’m just glad one of my pro athlete friends had left his gym bag here or I’m not sure we would have found the right sized syringe :).
“Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” (Can I sleep in the bedroom now?).
I did tell the ER doc that this was my last PEG tube. I am getting over it. I figure I have a year. But I am serious now. It will happen.