I believe that term is usually reserved for the week that frat boys take to harass and torture their pledges all in the name of “brotherhood.” But this week has been, for me, a hell week of a different nature. Join me on the journey recalling this hell week but hold on to your hats!
This was the week I was scheduled from Monday through Friday with various therapists and specialists. I was definitely not looking forward to all the appointments, especially since two were at the University of Michigan Hospital complex.
U of M Hospital is huge! It’s bigger than the village outside of which I reside. And it’s in a city! On top of being way too big and in a city, it’s also about a 45 minute drive from home. None of these things make it my favorite place to go and there is always the fact that I’m going because of some exam or procedure.
My hell week was supposed to begin with physical therapy but last week my therapist told me I was doing so well we could skip this week. She was aware of my appointment schedule. I swore to keep up the good work at home.
Tuesday I had an appointment with the neurologist. I looked up her photograph on the U of M website and she was a pleasant-looking, middle-aged blonde woman. Her curriculum vitae is truly impressive! I thought the appointment might not be too bad.
Little did I know, Ann Arbor’s traffic leading to the hospital is unbelievable! It took us about 43 minutes to get to the little street that leads to the bigger street that brings us to the road circling the hospital. It took 45 minutes to get from that first little street to the valet parking for the Taubman Center where the neurologist’s office is located. And the line of cars for valet parking would have taken another 30 minutes! By the time I arrived I was 30 minutes late for check in.
Much to my surprise I was greeted by a baby-faced young man who appeared to me to be about 14 years old. He led me back to the exam room and talked a bit about what he was going to do. To my relief, he said he’d leave after the exam to talk to Dr. Feldman (the blonde woman) and she might choose to do all or some of the exam herself.
I have to say he was very thorough, professional, and he listened very well. Dr. Feldman did indeed do most of the exam over. She ordered an additional blood test to be sent to the Mayo Clinic and ordered an EMG/NCS. If you don’t know what that is it’s basically a chance for the doctor to electrocute you then stick needles in a bunch of muscles while telling you to push against them. I’ve had them done before. Doctors call the test “uncomfortable” real, live humans say it hurts like hell.
The doctors normally have some lovely picture on the ceiling of flowers or puppies. They should have a sign up there that reads, “Renounce Heretic!”
Wednesday I had a CT Scan of my upper body from neck to stomach. I wasn’t expecting the report until Monday but it showed up today. Hell week continued as I read the results. Good news: no lung or other cancers in the areas scanned. Not so good news: Scarring from a previous infarct. What!? I had a heart attack!? Why didn’t anyone mention it? I’d have gone to the ER! Also noted was “severe arterial calcification.” Upon Googling this I discovered it’s almost inevitable that I’ll have to have my arteries snaked like clogged drains.
Actual photo of cardiac catheterization.
Yesterday I had the nearly incomparable joy of getting steroids injected into my hip. This involved having a kid about 10 years old explaining that they would inject me with Lidocaine several times then plunge a needle into the hip. First he had to do an ultrasound so he could decide where all these needles should be thrust into my tender flesh.
After picking his point of attack we were joined by another near infant. This one was somewhat older than the first (although still younger than my youngest child). He asked if the first doctor had explained what was going to happen. “Yes” I replied. “You’re going to stab me repeatedly with sharp, sharp needles.” “Actually” he said “we’re going to inject you with Lidocaine and Cortisone to improve the pain level in your hip.” I gave him the look reserved for precocious (read “smart ass”) children and said, “Tomato, Tomahto.”
Dr. “I”m a big boy” asked if I minded if Dr. “isn’t he precious” could do the first injections. Why not? My chances of surviving the procedure were slim anyway. And I have to say that sweet, young boy did a pretty good job. I only hollered “Holy cats!” once when he literally punched through a tendon. He did this on the orders of the older Dr. Mengele wanna be.
Then it was the other doc’s turn. He would do the actual injection into the hip. The needle, which I accidentally saw, was about 4 ft. long. I am certain he had to balance it on his shoulder.
He carefully inserted it and said, “Big pinch, burn, burn, burn.” I looked at him and said, “No. No. No.” “It doesn’t hurt?” he asked. “Nope. Nothing.” He was proud of the younger doctor and I was thrilled I was numb! But then he went deep. Bone deep. Deep enough that I was sure I could feel the tip of the needle in my other hip. Just as I was about to remind him of my threat to bite if either of them hurt me it was over!
I have to admit the hip felt good! I agreed to come back for the next appointment to stab the other hip. But now I’m rethinking that decision.
Tomorrow (today actually) I have a crack of dawn appointment with the cardiologist. I have to leave about 6:45, ride down freeways that most people think of as some kind of American Autobahn. Then I have to deal with the traffic on those darned three streets! And I’m awake. It’s 2:37 a.m. and I can’t sleep. My hip started hurting a lot! Not the actual joint but the spot where they drilled in with what must have been a half-inch drill bit.
The poor cardiologist will either have to exam me while I’m snoring on the table or bear the brunt of this difficult week when I both scream at her for everything while stepping on her toes, hard! That’s the risk you take when you schedule an appointment at the end of your patient’s hell week!