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Sunday, January 29, 2012

WARNING: Do Not Read While Eating Lunch

Or breakfast. Or dinner, for that matter.

So! I took Bob to see the gastro doctor on Thursday to have his exploded peg tube replaced. Before we left, I looked up "peg tube replacement" on the internet so I would know what to expect. I found out there are two ways to do this, one involves outpatient surgery and the other is a "simple procedure" that can be performed in the doctor's office where the doctor "gently tugs the existing peg tube, pulls it out, then replaces it with a new one". According to the website, this procedure should only take about 10 minutes, so of course I'm hoping the doctor will do this latter one.

I had never met this gastro doctor before, even though he was the one who originally inserted Bob's peg tube while Bob was hospitalized. The procedure was done late at night, under "emergency circumstances," right before Bob was transferred by ambulance to the pulmonary hospital. So I was a bit anxious about the whole thing.

Anyway, we are finally in the office waiting for the mystery doctor. The doctor arrives and he is young, I mean, really young. I could be his mother, that's how young he looks. And he is tall and thin as a rail and dark skinned and he has a very thick foreign accent---French? Maybe. He takes one look at Bob's peg tube and declares "It must be removed!" and then he goes on to explain to me exactly what I had read on the internet and asks if I want to do it there in the office or in surgery?

Of course, I opt for the "simple office procedure" and off he goes to get supplies. He comes back with two assistants, so now the little exam room is crammed full of people. He drapes Bob, still in the wheelchair, with several paper surgical drapes. He puts on a clear plastic face shield that covers his whole face, sort of like a welder's mask, dons some plastic gloves and he leans over Bob, puts his left hand on Bob's stomach and with his right hand he yanks out that tube. And I mean, he YANKS the sucker out.  So much for the "gentle tug" that I read about. And blood squirts out like a geyser, flying all of the place. And the doctor cries out, "HA HA! Don't worry! That is to be expected! HA HA!" while sopping up the blood with gauze pads.

By now, I am turning a bit green. The doctor swivels around on his little wheeled stool and holds up the old peg tube for me to see. He holds it like one would hold a dead snake, a long brown skinny dead snake dripping with blood and he laughs, "HA! HA! We won't be needing this anymore! HA HA!" and he drops the tube into a clear zip lock bag, where it coils into a rather slimy mess, and slips it into the garbage can.

Then he inserts the new tube. This went pretty quick. Basically, it's a straight tube with a deflated balloon device at the end, and once inserted he pumps the balloon up with a little pump syringe. All the while, the guy is still laughing and I'm thinking, man, this doctor enjoys his job. After he was done, he whips away the surgical drapes and pronounces himself pleased that he didn't get any blood on Bob's clothes. Then he tells me I have to take Bob across the street, to The Hospital, for an x-ray to make sure the tube is properly placed.

I'm thinking, no, oh no, because I don't want to go over to The Hospital. Because that is The Hospital were Bob had the stroke. That's The Hospital where I spent the worst couple of months of my life and I haven't been over there since Bob was discharged. Just the sight of The Hospital across the street had made me ill when we arrived and now we have to go over there, I mean, actually go into that building?

But we have to. So we go. I take a deep breath and tell myself I'll be okay, it's only the radiology department that we are headed to not ICU or surgery or any of those other awful places. But the minute I wheel Bob through the door, the minute I see those familiar halls, that green tiled floor, those beige walls, I begin to feel whoozy. As if the floors are tilting and the walls are pressing in on me. The radiology department is way over on the end of the building, we have to go through the whole floor, past the smiling framed Board of Directors portraits and the elevator which I took daily to ICU, the one with the red button that read "PRESS HERE TO CALL FOR HELP" which I stared at every day, as the elevator slowly rose, thinking "help! help!" Past the surgery waiting room, where I spent countless stressful hours. Past that one corner, where that one doctor had stopped me, right in the hallway and told me that he was so very sorry that Bob was "not going to make it". Then past the cafeteria, where I ate countless meals, whose smell now just about gags me. Finally, we are at radiology. And I am sick to my stomach and a nervous wreck.

For the x-ray, they have to put some kind of radioactive dye into Bob's new peg tube to "light it up" so that they can see if it's properly placed. This seems to take forever. We end up missing our scheduled wheelchair transport, so I have to call and we're put on "stand-by" which basically means it's going to take forever to get home.

But finally, we get home. I was never so glad to see The Pink House and Boomer there, at the door, to greet us. I get Bob all settled into bed and check the calendar where I track his appointments, plus his every 3rd day pain patch and also his bowel movements. I realize he's due for the latter so I get out the laxative to give him with his regular medications.

Almost immediately after giving Bob his medication, he has a bowel movement, and I'll try not to be too graphic, but it was a bit runny. And I'm thinking, that's weird because usually the laxative doesn't work that fast. And then I think oh shit, and once again I mean this quite literally, because something they did to Bob today--the radioactive dye, maybe?--is causing diarrhea and I have just certainly made it worst.

Thus begins a horrific night, where I am up every hour cleaning him up. And the stuff is so watery it's seeping right through the diaper legs onto the bed pad and it's a god awful mess. I keep thinking, it's got to stop soon, because how much can he have in there? But it keeps coming and coming. Around 3:00 in the morning, he loses control of his bladder at the same time, and now I've got an even bigger mess which includes sheets and blankets and pillows soaked with urine on top of it--because Bob has this habit of leaving his you-know-what hang outside the Depends. He does this for, I don't know, comfort? Or convenience to use the urinal? Anyway, after I change out all the bedsheets etc. and haul the whole mess into the laundry room, I tell Bob to please keep his you-know-what tucked in, so if it happens again it will be soaked up in the diaper.

At about 4:30 a.m., he's calling me again. I tell you, I wasn't getting any sleep. This time, he's done it again. Peed all over the bed on top of the other stuff. And I have to change everything out again. And I am exhausted and frustrated and I am so losing it that I scream at him. I mean I really scream at him, at the top of lungs, I scream, "GOD DAMN IT, BOB! KEEP YOUR PECKER IN YOUR PANTS!!!"

And then I think, oh lord almighty, I bet the whole neighborhood heard that. What are the neighbors going to think?  

So, that's the story of Bob's peg tube replacement. He's feeling better now. The new peg tube is working out fine--though it's a bit too short for my liking--and Bob tells me he doesn't like it because "This tube gives you diarrhea." ha! Good sentence there, Bob. And everything is back to normal. And you folks can now have lunch. Bye!


Jenn said...

Holy shit!
Holy shit!
Holy shit!
As you walked thru those nightmarish hospital hallways, breathing shallow, eyes darting side to side, did the thought "Bob is alive. He beat your diagnosis. F*** you" creep in? Did you maybe walk a little taller? Take a moment. Go past the fear and misery. It's there. I KNOW it is.
You are one tough broad, baby! And I absolutely love you!!! ( Tough or not!)

Jenn said...

Question: how did Bob get his meds and feeding during the time between ka-boom and replacement of the peg tube?

Diane said...

Jenn, I managed to cut off the split portion of his tube and reconnect the port, so he still had a tube, just a shorter one, though I didn't trust the rest wouldn't blow!

Anonymous said...

You know I think you are the toughest, bravest, gutsiest, strongest, "Tough Bitch" I was ever honored to know. Love, Patricia

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you do all that you do Diane. You (and Bob) amaze me each time I read your blog. Apparently the "doctor" knew what he was doing, but his laughing would have drove me up the wall. I think I'd find another gastro doctor, but I suspect there is no other in the immediate area. I can understand the die causing the diarrhea considering where it was injected, along with the additional laxitive, but I don't undertand Bobs sudden urge to urinate so often. However, if in your shoes, I would have been screaming too. Not only did you have the stress of what happened at the doctors office, but also the stresses of memories in the hospital.....and then the multiple messes from Bob. Add to all of that, lack of decent sleep. I think I'd be screaming, and then crying off in a corner of another room too. My heart goes out to you Diane. I hope you were able to get some sleep today and tonight. Hugs and prayers, Dan

Barb Polan said...

I felt the same freaked-out, surreal way the first time I went back to Spaulding.

How can you write about blood, shit and piss and still make me laugh so hard? You are amazing!