Life as a Panda

Int – Hospital room – evening

Text message notification rings on the phone.

Wife: Your little girl sure misses u. She loves u an awful lot. Finishing dinner then rest of hw then we’ll call u

Husband: What brought this on?

Wife: She broke down crying when I picked her up from music cried all the way home

Wife: She said she would give anything to have u home

Husband: A lot of emotions at 9, almost 10.

Wife: I guess, I think she understands things and feels at a much deeper level now.

That was the quick surprise text conversation I had with my wife tonight. I was watching a movie on my iPad while freezing my ass off in my hospital room because the nurse turned the temperature down, not up, giving you a clue as to how old she is because she can’t read the microscopic numbers on the dial.

Yes, I am in hell again. My numbers were down this week and here I am in a carnival funhouse. And if there is a theme to this visit, it’s “ignorance is bliss.” I say that because I think it might be better not to pay attention to everything around me while I’m here. Just let things go. Don’t worry about mistakes. But I can’t do it.

I should have known I was in for a bad trip when they put me on a floor where CF patients are like a visiting Panda from China. Oh, he’s so cute. Does he bite? What is this thing you call “cystic fibrosis”? Did you catch it from from eating bad bamboo?

The mistakes started with my port. The nurse had never seen one like mine, even though they stuck it in me at this hospital. She got the needle in just fine but had been sick the day of port needle training and pressed the wings and out popped the needle. Oops, that was a surprise.

Is there someone who knows how to access these you could ask?

Back with another nurse, she stabbed me in the chest again, but it wouldn’t flush unless she pressed on it as hard as she could.

Are you going to stay in my room 24/7 and keep pressure on it the entire time? I asked.

What size needle did you use, the helper asked?

Answer in my words: the wrong size.

How about you try this time, I said to the helper.

He used the correct size needle and proved the statement “the third time is the charm” is true.

Then there was my night nurse who was on his second day soloing. A confidence builder for me, especially when he programmed the IV pump, making it seem as complex as programming the space shuttle for take off. “What happens if I press this button?”

So, as one of the antibiotics runs for four hours, which is hell being chained up for so long and makes me wonder if the benefit outweighs the additional time on the pole, I was surprised to see a full IV bag when the morning nurse came in. So was she, surprised, to see it. Such a mystery for first thing in the morning. Should have had a second cup of joe, my good nurse.

Did it infuse? Or did the saline back up? Is that even possible? Did I just miss a dose? We will never know. It’s the Mystery of the Self-Filling IV Bag and unfortunately Nancy Drew wasn’t here to solve it.

So that’s the news. I am crossing my fingers and hoping they take me to the Panda floor soon so I can be with my own kind and be fed by zookeepers who know what a Panda likes to eat, when a Panda likes to eat, and, most important of all, to never to tell a Panda that he or she is a Panda.

19 thoughts on “Life as a Panda

  1. Hoping the Panda-keepers come for you soon. I would think given the rare, cute and overwhelmingly-adored species that you are, they would want to keep you happy, well fed and looked after. Fingers crossed on that.

    Hospitals suck, like, really suck. Mostly I stay there when my son is sick and it always looks a whole lost worse for him than for me. There is nothing, repeat NOTHING worse, than dealing with inept medical staff who you suspect received their degree from “Dan’s online medical, plumbing and typsetting school” (or something similar).

    Would it be considered a faux-pas to ask them to show you their documentation proving their graduation from a real and legitimate medical school, before they are able to stick you with anything? Or would that be like asking to see a guys bank account statement before you’ll go on a date with him? Faux-pas, maybe. Smart? Definitely.

    On the plus side, you foresaw this visit – which is much like having a crystal ball – have you thought of moonlighting with a little fortunetelling in your spare time? You seem to have the knack, and there is a ton of money in quackery you know…

    • Karyn,

      Love the comment. Yes, might insult them if I asked for their credentials. And the proof is really in their actions, not a piece of paper.

      I need an agent to ask them for their credentials. Please fly over here and speak to them for me. You can pound them with that AUS charm.

      Thanks again for writing, nice to hear from you while I’m locked up. Not sure I can see the future. I just know the patterns from the past.

      All is good and hoping all is with you and the family.


  2. Dear Madman of HospitalShire

    It’s seems that unless your getting plastic surgery in the hospitals in LA your pretty much stuffed with the service the other hospitals offer, I am packing my bags to come and show them how to access Ports, have a bottle of vodka ready to be infused my friend.
    Btw I am now going to call you Chi-Chi in all further correspondences 😉
    Get well soon.
    Sir Sean

    • Seanset,

      I have no doubt you would have done a perfect job accessing my port. I’ll fly to England next time. It’s a shame they don’t have a plane that would get me there in an hour.

      I like my new Panda name.


  3. This sucks big time!

    I’m currently inpatient also and I, too, have had some port drama this time around. The best explanation they could come up with was this: “Well…you have a generous amount of breast tissue which may be making it harder to access”. I don’t know if I should be flattered or extremely annoyed.

    At any rate, I’m nearing the end of my visit to hell (or…. the zoo?). I hope that your stay is also a quick one. Get feeling better, friend!

    • Jenny,

      I’m unhappy to hear you’re in too. I wish we were in the same hospital, but I’m hoping you’re in one where they make fewer errors.

      I’m sure your husband doesn’t mind comments about having extra . . . well, you know.

      Glad you’re getting out soon. That’s good news. I was ready to leave on day one.

      Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.


  4. Our girls are the same age and I’ve got to tell you that my daughter has been REALLY emotional lately, too. To the point where I think a shrink might be in order. She is very clingy and cries about something…or everything…nearly every day. I wonder if our girls have a great understanding of the reality of CF, along with having the whole pre-puberty/hormone thing going on? It’s very sad that she misses you, but at the same time…I think it means your doing something (or a lot of things) right as a father.
    Hoping you start feeling in tip-top shape soon!

    • Stacey,

      Yep, we’re going through the hormonal stage right now two. Sometimes I say something to her and off she runs to her room crying. What did I say? I ask my wife. Such a reaction. It’s an interesting age. She’s smarter, but more reactionary. But it’s all good. It’s all good and interesting to watch. She did a lot of crying this week at school and other places. I’m not sure it’s all about me as much as it is about her and her life, which is normal and good. Because, this age is in a way about themselves.

      Nice to hear from you. You’re overdue on a blog post.


  5. My last 6, count em 6, admits have been to other floors rather than the Panda 6S. Sucks when the nurses ask how I caught CF or how long I’ve had it. Sucks worse when they know nothing about ports. I scare the nurses into thinking that my port is really hard to access and unless they have lots of port experience, don’t even try it. They freak out and proceed to go get a nurse that knows what they are doing . . . works like a charm! Most times, they run to get a 6S Panda nurse that I know. 🙂 Just sayin.

    Hope you feel better.

    • Jodi,

      Great advice on the port. Wish I knew that trick a few days ago. I’ll use it next time. This is my first time in with the port. Sure beats having to have a PICC inserted and IVs until the PICC is inserted.

      I’m hoping they move me to the Panda floor this weekend. It’s so much easier up there. I can’t explain it to others, but I know you know what I mean. Less stress.

      Thanks for the comments. Glad you’re not in too.


    • Margie,

      Wow, you and I are the same time and place. I remember that movie when I was young. Billy Jack was a bad ass. I’ll email you my room number and you can come over and kick some serious ass.


    • Margie,

      Oh, yeah. Good choice of clips. I feel that way many times while here and have to hold it in. But they don’t know how close they get to seeing my inner Billy Jack spring out to give them a verbal whopping.


  6. I think I’ve told you this before but hopefully you’ve forgotten it: I WAS on the Panda floor, but a youngish, new-ish nurse came in and said, “Wow, I’ve never seen one (CFer) as old as you!” That was insulting on so many levels!

    • Mal,

      When you say Panda floor, do you mean Panda floor in the same hospital or another?

      I’ve had the same thing said to me over the years, too. In fact, during this visit the nurse, a few days on his own, told me he had seen two other CF patients in his short lifetime and both were on life support and younger. It’s amazing “fuck off” doesn’t come out my mouth a dozen times a day. I guess I’d be in jail, homeless or dead if it did.


  7. My favorite part: “She got the needle in just fine but had been sick the day of port needle training and pressed the wings and out popped the needle. Oops, that was a surprise.”

    I taught my wife with no formal training had by myself – we have yet to have a port stick failure. How “professionals” mess it up is far, far beyond my intellectual capabilities. Perhaps I’ll drive by some special school where they suck the natural intelligence out of 97% percent of nurses and suddenly everything will make sense as I then focus on the sign above the door that says “get your nursing degree in one weekend.”

    • Jesse,

      If I had to, I could stick one in myself with zero training. I agree with your comment about professionals messing it up being beyond what one can comprehend. If they would just admit to not knowing how to do something, we’d all be better off. That’s the killer. They’ll give something the old college try and hurt us. Then they’ll call for help. Ready, fire, aim, oops, get help.

      Keep staying out of the hospital, please.


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