Friday, August 21, 2009

First, blood

Busy week with hospitals, rehab, doctors and blood counts. It's Friday morning, and I'm sitting at the foot of Bandar's bed at Marymount Hospital (or in Bandar-speak, "Mary Mountain"), a Catholic hospital in the Cleveland Clinic Foundation system. She was delivered here this morning to get a transfusion, two units of packed red blood cells to bring up her hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, thus enabling her own blood to carry more oxygen more efficiently throughout her body. Her anemia helps to explain why she's been tired the last 10 days or more. This process will take about three hours per bag with another hour in between. I'm going to take a lunch break and pop back in this afternoon to see how she's doing.

We didn't tell Sophie's mom she was headed for hospital this morning. It would have made her nervous and sleepless last night. She had a total of five blood draws this week including three "stat cbc's" (a hurried, four-hour, complete blood count). All but one, at Metro, came back suggesting she has anemia.

The Jennings staff woke her at 6 this morning and had her dressed and delivered to Marymount by 7, when I got here. She was pissed!

For the first 45 minutes, she alternated and repeated a series of questions: "For sure I have to get blood?" and "When they going to give me blood?" and "How they going to give me blood?" With her broken accent, her slight pallor and her singular fixation, I could not help but compare her in my mind to Dracula. Unfortunately, she does not understand the cultural reference, and even if she did it's not a good day to tease.

Nurse Amber got the IV in with no troubles -- Bandar is a "hard stick," and it's not always so easy. She had to wait 90 minutes to get typed and tested so they could ensure a proper blood match. Someone goofed by not thinking of this in advance and delivering this information with Bandar this a.m.

Bandar's in a better mood now, at 10:45 a.m. She's laying flat on her back with the gravity feeding her veins with the dark, red liquid that will make her feel better in a day or two. "Why it go so slow?" she has asked half a dozen times.

Like every other day with Bandar, I do my best to answer her questions and make her feel as comfortable as possible. Today and this week have required a little more effort than usual, but it's really just been more of the same. There's never any point in asking why or complaining about it (although I occasionally give in to those temptations). I just keep reminding myself that my life works better when I try to keep it simple, try to do the next right thing and not make everything about me.

I'll check back in this afternoon for an update.

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