A cancer journey – the green folder

Lots of wheelchairs to borrow
Next week is surgery week. Rick’s left kidney comes out on Tuesday! It all sounds a little too simple. Right?

We thought we had finished all our appointments during our pre-op day at MD Anderson. Now we could just coast on a lovely, poufy cloud until the big surgery … but wait! It seems in taking all that blood, possibly a gallon by now, someone had forgotten to “type” Rick’s blood. Really? Is that necessary? But Rick’s dog tags from his Air Force days clearly state the dude is an A+. It seems they don’t take anyone’s word on that. The place is careful … very careful … and I actually appreciated MDA for that. So we spent last Friday … the 13th … our anniversary … at MDA for two last appointments.

The first was the lab! Whenever we visit the MDA lab, I hang out in the waiting room. I figure Rick can perform that task himself as there are not going to be any notes I have to take. After about twenty minutes, my macho Rick walked toward me with the funniest grin on his face. The hot pink flexible tape around each arm where the techs took blood were obviously the culprit. I almost fell on the floor laughing. I took his picture with my phone and immediately sent it to our kids.

“Why did they take blood from both arms?” I asked, picking up everything I dropped on the floor.

Maybe I should have gone into the lab area with him!

“They had to take blood out of each arm, with two different technicians, and then they will compare the tests to make sure I match,” Rick explained.

“And so … did you request the hot pink?” I countered.

“I don’t know whose idea that was, but when the first lady was finished, the second one decided I should match. Only they ran out of hot pink and had to scrounge around to find some,” he grinned.

Our next appointment was with patient education in the Mays Building. That was when we were given the dreaded “green folder.” My eyes widened like bowling balls as the nice lady went over everything for about an hour and then put all the paperwork into the folder. Then she slid the green folder over to me. Basically, it was loaded with checklists, Rick’s preparation for surgery, phone numbers, maps and care plan. OK … this wasn’t going to be simple. But I think I already knew that.

First time in ages we finished at MD Anderson before lunch. Next we headed to mid-town for an awesome anniversary lunch at a place called Holley’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar on Louisiana. Our first time there. It was delicious! Highly recommend sharing the apple pie bread pudding for dessert!

Yesterday I checked MDA’s patient portal for test results. You get three guesses on what Rick’s blood type came out to be.

A cancer journey – waiting for surgery

Lots of wheelchairs to borrow
Not too much to report on the “fighting cancer front” at our house over the past two weeks. Rick has lost his voice for the past 12 days … I mean it is no where to be found. Believe me … I have looked for it everywhere. That and sleep issues have been our main challenges.

It is why we paid a visit to MDA’s Supportive Care for some help. Rick has never taken a sleep medication so this was going to be uncharted territory for us. Getting up seven or eight times at night just isn’t good for anyone. The Supportive Care people have expertise with helping control the many cancer symptoms their patients experience. It took a couple of nights taking the prescription, but now Rick wakes up rested and experiences no fatigue during the day. Can I get an amen?

We also asked Supportive Care with help retrieving Rick’s voice. It is here we learned that MDA doesn’t help with illnesses not related to cancer. Good to know! A trip to our local Dr. Young’s office revealed an ear infection and swollen vocal cords. We left with a few medications. It has been just over a week on meds and not sure the voice is on the comeback trail. We just don’t want this to be an issue to not perform the surgery. That left kidney has got to go!

Yesterday, we survived five pre-op appointments at MDA. Every time I go to MDA, I learn new things. I learned it is a good idea to have a medical bracelet made that tells people he has one kidney and is on a clinical trial. What a great idea! I also learned if you go to your primary care physician with an ailment and are prescribed meds, be sure and let the MDA people know. If you are on a clinical trial, there are certain medications you can’t take! You don’t want to get kicked off the trial. I learned appointment times are kinda like suggestions. Basically, you have a slot! If you happen to be early for an appointment they just might take you. So getting on the road back home early could really happen.