Saturday, May 10, 2014

Night Life in the ER

This has got to stop. Seriously. Another visit to the ER Thursday night really puts me over the edge. Enough is enough!

All went normally and smoothly with the late transfusion on Thursday afternoon. Unplugged, patched and sent on my way, I was home at supper time, but not hungry.

Suddenly, I felt a tickle on the right side of my chest and when I went to scratch it, it was wet. When I looked at my hand, it was blood stained.  Fortunately, it was staining an old tee-shirt, but as I checked the mirror I found the gauze bandage saturated with blood.  The puncture wound had not closed completely and was producing a slow, steady drip.

I removed the bandage to find that although the blood had tried to coagulate, it just hadn't. I cleaned the area, replaced the gauze patch and tape, snagged an ice bag and propped myself up to read until the bleeding stopped.  Ice usually does the trick quickly.  Not this time.

As the night wore on, I changed the bandage thrice more and it was still not cooperating. There was a slight pressure/pain in the area so I thought that maybe something had damaged the port somehow, and I didn’t have any info about what to do differently in such a situation. Couldn’t find any other info on the Web other than what I had already been doing: Ice, Pressure, and fresh Bandage.

By this time it was almost midnight and I had been up for 24 hours (right, insomnia has been a problem, too.) but I was afraid that the Heparin solution may have been drained and I would have trouble with a clot next week when the port was accessed again for Lab work. I was exhausted, but still not sleepy.

Finally, I dressed and drove to the ER in the chilly, foggy night air.  I felt chills and even slightly feverish, but that was the least of my concerns. I had to stop the bleeding, somehow.

The ER was packed even at that hour. (I guess many folks still haven’t signed up for Obamacare around here.) As I registered and told the nurse the situation, she checked my files (you’d think they’d have them memorized by now!), noticed that I am a cancer patient at the Center and within 10 minutes I was in an exam room with a handsome, ginger doctor hovering over my open wound. 

Since I had all my paperwork and lab results from the day with me, they could forgo the preliminary testing and just get to the problem. The port was checked carefully for any damage or defect, none was found. Sitting up straight the entire time (lying down caused more blood to flow, glad I sat up with the icepack at home before I came)  the doc examined the whole area with great care and sensitivity.  Feeling for the tiny tubing as traced its track.

A clear salve called LET was applied (it contains Epinephrine) to halt the superficial blood flow. This was bandaged and taped tightly. I had to sit or stand for a half hour while the salve did its thing. When the hot doc returned and removed the bandage, the flow had all but stopped, so he repeated the application. 15 minutes later, the wound was dry.  He then applied surgical glue to the area which will eventually wash away in the shower.

It was 2:30 am Friday as I drove back to town in a heavy fog that matched my state of mind, being sleep deprived for so long.  But when I arrived home I wasn’t sleepy. Instead, I sat up and read until I finally became drowsy at about 5 am.  I was awake, I mean wide awake, at 7:30, again, unable to sleep. 

The Chemo was finally delivered in late afternoon, and I forced myself to eat something - other than fruit cups) at supper time. Took a shower and climbed back into bed at around 7, but again, sleep was slow to come.

I was awake again at 12:30 am this morning and don’t know what to make of any of this. Just another day in the wide, wide world of medicine and medical mishugas.

And so it goes.


  1. pity you didn't get a pix of the ginger MD!

  2. I keep some Ambien on hand (which I rarely use) for just such excessive insomnia. Sometimes it seems that fatigue promotes insomnia. Sorry about your late night excursion to the ER. Hope you can get some rest this weekend.

  3. I look back on your entries hoping not to find one like this one :-(


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