I’m going to tell you a story about my wild Friday night. It’s a long story and brevity is not a strength of mine but I’m going to do my best to keep it to the point. This might be a challenge, though, because to be honest, at this exact moment in time I’m not 100% sure what the point of this post is going to be, but perhaps I’ll figure it out along the way.
Let’s start with a little background. I don’t consider myself a superstitious person. I do, however, believe in what I call The Law of Long Weekends. I believe in it so much, apparently, that I felt capital letters were necessary. The Law of Long Weekends states that medical malfunctions arise right before or during a long weekend, when you can’t get hold of the people who would usually be able to help, and it will be an extra day or two before you can.
I’m sure you can all recall a time when something went wrong on a long weekend, a time when you said, “Ugh what terrible timing! Of course this is happening now.” But me? I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened and it’s at the point now that when something goes wrong in and around a long weekend I’m not even surprised.
Okay, so my story starts at 3:45 yesterday afternoon when I felt something dripping down my chest. TPN. Friday afternoon leading into a long weekend? Check. I made several phone calls, but I’d been around the block before so I knew that anyone who could help me stopped answering the phone at 3:30. My TPN nurse, my doctor’s office, interventional radiology and ambulatory care at the local hospital.
Uhhh, now what?
I stopped my infusion, clamped the line, and got a ride down to Eagle Ridge Hospital, conveniently located less than 5 minutes from my house. Because I had been to their ER before with the same problem (last summer on the August long weekend, wouldn’t you know), I wasn’t confident that they would be able to help, but it was worth a try. I can barely manage one night without TPN, let alone three, so at the very least I needed someone to place a peripheral IV so I could run saline for a few days. Not ideal, but better than nothing,
After checking in at the ER and being triaged, I found myself sitting in the waiting room for a while getting a lot of strange looks from people who were probably wondering why I had scissors (actually a Kelly clamp) coming out of my chest. Scissors in Chest Girl. My superhero name.
Unfortunately, none of the nurses there felt comfortable fixing my line, and the one who could’ve had gone home, as had the PICC line nurses at Royal Columbian Hospital. 3:30 is apparently the magical going home time for everyone central line savvy. The doctor I saw said he would try, but he wasn’t entirely convinced it was actually leaking so he sent me home and told me if it was leaking again later then just to come back. I tried to protest but he wouldn’t budge.
Aye yai yai. Called my mom to pick me up. Went home. Started my TPN. And lo and behold it starts dripping all over the place. Who could have predicted that?
Back to the ER, this time hauling along my huge TPN backpack with my infusion running and TPN leaking all over. More strange looks from people as I sat there in the ER with an ever-growing wet patch on my shirt and smelling like TPN. Yuck. Forget Scissors in Chest Girl. Now I was Lactating Lady. My other superhero name…so basically I’m like a transformer or something.
It was pretty much the same scenario with a different doctor, except this one seemed to just get it more. He managed to get hold of an IV therapy nurse at Royal Columbian who was still there doing outpatient antibiotics and said he would fix my line. And so I called my mom to come get me, again, and we headed over to RCH where my line was thankfully repaired. Phew!
As an added bonus, by the time we got to RCH it was after 8:30pm and you only have to pay for street parking until 8:00, which means that I managed three ER visits in one day without paying to park! A win for Scissors in Chest Girl and Lactating Lady.
And that, my friends, is my story. Now for the point…hmm…
Well for one, I now have more evidence in support of the Law of Long Weekends and so I’m sure my Nobel Prize in medicine is on its way. And two, next time I’m bummed out about my boring Friday nights at home I’m going to recall this story and remember that home is better than the hospital.
Driving home last night I said to my mom that this doesn’t even seem strange to me anymore. I forget that going to the ER on a Friday night to fix a central line so that you can eat for the next three days is not a ‘normal life’ thing. She shared that sentiment, and then said that she wished this wasn’t ‘normal life’ for me.
Here is what I told her: this is just life with a central line, and life with a central line is better than no life at all.
There are a lot of things about my life that I didn’t and wouldn’t choose for myself. I didn’t choose my DNA. I didn’t choose illness and disability. I didn’t choose a life in which I don’t get to call the shots myself, a life that depends on the involvement of doctors and nurses. But I do choose Friday nights in the ER. I do choose to be Scissors in Chest Girl. I do choose to go to those doctors and nurses for help.
I choose these things because life with a central line is better than no life at all.
And I choose life.
Huh, I guess this story had a point after all.