Saturday, October 3, 2015

The TIPs & FAQs of ALL.

After giving you an idea of how to deal with Bipolar I disorder, I would like to give you a simple post about being an oncology patient, and how to deal with it.
     In case you are unfamiliar with the acronym "TIP," it stands for Thing Important for a Patient.
     I don't want this to be terribly long, but just enough to give a picture, more specifically of being a patient at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. After visiting another Children's hospital, not a part of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, I realized that Children's is not the only hospital in its class.
     Anyway, that is not important. A few frequently asked questions might be the right way to write this post, so I'll start with the most prominent ones and go to the less important ones as I go.

Q: What does it feel like to be given Chemo?

A: For the most part not pleasant. Some Chemos are less aggravating than others, like Vincristine and Prednisone, but there are others that make a cancer patient feel—to quote another cancer patient—"Like a bag of dead mice." There are times when I'm on the hospital floor in my room lying on my bed just waiting for it all to be over and I here this question, "How do you feel?"
     My knee-jerk reaction would be to strangle the person who asked it, but usually I mustered the energy to say, "I don't feel well enough to answer that question," as smugly as possible.
     It is true that this is a most ungrateful way to accept life saving treatment, but one must wonder the time of administration if the treatment, that feels like nauseous torture, is really worth it. Well, the fact that I am telling this to you is a sign that it is worth it, so please forgive me, and every other cancer patient who has possibly thought this way.

Q: And speaking of staying on the Hemonc floor of the hospital floor for a few days, what do you do with yourself during that time?

A: The key to passing the time in the hospital is an ingenious new technology called streaming. At Children's they have free movies that you can watch at any time, unless every other person in the hospital is trying to stream the movie you want to watch at the same time, then the server gets overloaded and it becomes really choppy. Then your best bet is to wait till about eleven PM and try then, or watch another movie that isn't so frequently selected for viewing. If you're an older patient, you may rather want to watch a more action filled movie that most of the younger patients, of which there are typically more of than older patients, would not be quite as interested in.
     What makes Children's a little nicer than some hospitals is that it also has a Geek Squad office as you enter on the second floor from the green parking ramp. They'll let you borrow a computer or iPad for a few days while you're staying. With it you can browse the internet and do other stuff. Now that I have my own computer I probably won't need to, but it was probably the best feature when I did need it.

Q: Is the food any good?

A: When you order it the first time, the thirtieth time? Some hospitals may not do this, but Children's lets you order food a la carte. It's good the first few times you order it, but eventually you run out of good things on the menu. I got sick of the breakfast food faster than anything else on the menu, and so I found cheeseburgers a suitable breakfast food from there on out. That and broccoli. One visit it was mashed potatoes every night with extra gravy, which sustained me through nausea and other terrible things. I don't know why, but mashed potatoes are easier for me to eat while nauseated while feeling like I'll throw up.

Q: Are the nurses and doctors nice?

A: Yup. I think the doctors and nurses at Children's are all very competent, but also very kind. Especially on the oncology floor where you get to know them pretty well because you're seeing them for the full three years of treatment, or however long it is for you (I hear that brain tumors take longer), quite regularly. They're all fun and always happy to see you and willing to do anything that will make you feel more comfortable.

Q: Besides watching movies and browsing the internet, what else do you do for fun?

A: Visitors are allowed at any time during the day, and  always greatly appreciated. Good friends would play cribbage with me sometimes and other times the hospital chaplain, who truly is a kindred spirit would come and converse with me on multitude of subjects ranging from theology to computers, two things he and I are both fascinated with. He also would play cribbage with me, usually pwning me more than I would care to admit.
     And then there are those other times. . .
     What is a lot of fun is when the nurse thinks that you're asleep, when in fact you were a few minutes ago, but are slowly waking up because the nurse is putting on another bag of lactated ringers or saline, or something. Replacing the morning fluids. This happened one time, and I will never forget the result. I knew she was there so very suddenly I popped up in bed and said as loudly as I could, "HYAHH!" which isn't very loud in the morning, but it was enough to give her a start. We both laughed about it and I got the satisfaction of hearing her outside telling other nurses about my little escapade.
     I have heard that there is a new teens only room on the seventh floor of the hospital for cancer patients. Unfortunately I have no more scheduled hospital visits as an inpatient, so it may be that I never have the opportunity to see it, however, if I run a fever of 101.5 ºF, I will be required to stay in the hospital until it has passed. If it had been there when I was admitted, then I would have most likely have endeavored to use it by sitting in it and enjoying the scenery, especially if they put in a window since last time I saw the room that they were going to put it in.

So there are my answers to your FAQs, and some tips of how to deal with cancer while getting treatment. Sorry, it was way longer than a not so terribly long post, but in any case, if you got this far I hope that you enjoyed reading it.

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and as always,

Thanks for reading.

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