Monday, February 27, 2012

Evaluation Day 1...

Duke Hospital front entrance
Greetings from North Carolina.  We made it here yesterday on the smoothest flight ever.  I don't think I've ever experienced a flight with absolutely no turbulence.  The strong winds we left behind only served to get us into Raleigh/Durham twenty minutes early.  Yay for winds being in your favor.

Got up very early this morning to make my first 7:30 orientation appointment.  We ended up a bit late trying to find the place.  Come to find out, Duke Hospital is notorious for being confusing.  Our pre-transplant coordinator said to stop any employee if you needed help in navigation--they are used to providing confused patients with directions.  We had to ask willing employees several times before the end of the day it turned out.

After orientation, we went straight to the clinic.  While waiting for the social worker, I took a quick detour to use the bathroom.  A poor older gentleman was in the restroom trying to get his wife off the floor to open her locked stall.  I don't know how long he had been trying to convince her but he was pretty frustrated at this point.  I offered to go under the stall and unlock the door since I was smaller than him.  Gratefully, he held my oxygen while I shimmied under the door.  Poor lady just looked kind of dazed slumped against the corner.  I was able to unlock the stall easily so he could help his wife.  From hearing their continued conversation, it became obvious she was suffering from some type of dementia.  My heart went out to him.

Before the social worker arrived, I was sent back to the lab area to have my blood taken.  25 vials of blood no less!  It was kinda creepy to see all the tubes laid out waiting to get their share of my precious bodily fluids.  The tech did a fabulous job.

Next we met with the social worker and following her the nutritionist.  Both appointments went well. Then after leaving more bodily fluids (of the yellow variety) behind, I was off to get chest x-rays. Thankfully it was now time for lunch.

After a leisurely lunch at the food court, it was off to my last test for today:  a Differential VQ scan.  Never having heard of this before I wasn't sure what to expect.  But when radiology sent us to nuclear medicine I began to have my doubts that this would be fun.  My doubts were right.  Note to self:  if there is soothing music being played in the background of a procedure room, there is a reason.  The technician explained what would happen and I was none too thrilled.  But I did okay.  At the beginning the tech holds a mask firmly around your nose and mouth.  Even though my nasal cannula is blowing O2 and he says the mask is also supplying oxygen, it feels like someone is trying to smother you for 5 minutes--a very uncomfortable feeling.  While he is holding the mask on, you try hard to forget that he is also releasing a radioactive gas for you to breathe in.  Once that part was over, he then gave me an injection of a radioactive isotope and there were more scans.  All the scans took about 45 minutes.  Wonder when we turn off the lights tonight in our hotel room if I will emit a gentle glow??

That's how day one went down--four more to go.


  1. Haha! I am just imagining you shimmying under the bathroom stall! Good thing you showed up. I'm sure that poor man was very grateful.

  2. You're awesome! I hate radioactive isotopes, I had that done once when I had a kidney infection, nothing like feeling your veins burning all over. Hope it all goes well in the end, we love you!!