Oct. 21, 2017

Temporal artery biopsy prep

My procedure was scheduled for Monday, the 16th at 5:30 in the afternoon, with check-in two hours prior.  I had until 8 hours prior to the check-in to eat anything.  Knowing I’d be starving all day, I got up early, took my medications, and ate.  After that, I had until 1:30pm to drink clear fluids, then I’d be stuck with nothing, not even gum.  Since these restrictions were during the day, I found it harder to comply.  If you’re anything like me, if someone tells me that I can’t have something, the more I want it.  However, what I did instead helped with that urge and I didn’t feel deprived of anything.  What did I do?  I went back to sleep.  It covered all the open time since I took the day off work.  Also, since I was expected to have some sort of anesthesia, it was required that I bring a driver.  I did better than that, I had three.  Two more than necessary, but it helped me a lot for moral support.  My father, sister, and sister-in-law went with me (yes, I am a very lucky girl to have their support) and kept my spirits up.  The girls knew how scared I was about this procedure because the surgeon would be touching and cutting into my head.

As we were leaving the house to head to the hospital, I missed a call and received a voicemail from a lady with a very thick accent, telling me that the surgeon was going faster than expected and asked if I could come in a half hour earlier than normal.  We were already leaving an hour prior to check-in since it would take about forty-five minutes with traffic to get there.  I couldn’t believe they were calling me to come in earlier with no notice.  I understand that these things can’t be predicted.  The timing just surprised me.  I called the lady back and informed her that we were on our way and her response was, “good girl.”  Really?  Who says that to a patient?  I’m not offended.  I just found it really unprofessional.

So, we finally get to the hospital and I check in.  Within minutes, I’m brought into a room where I would be prepped.  Standard instructions about undressing, jewelry, and what I’m expected to wear.  The nurse that did my medical check-in was the lady with the thick accent.  She was nice, but it felt like the process took entirely too long.  Like she didn’t know exactly what she was doing on the computer and that worried me.  Once little mistake could mean my life.  Luckily, everything was fine.

When the nurse mentioned the anesthesiologist, I informed her that I have a power port in my chest since I’m a really “hard stick,” which means that my veins are hard to find and access.  As a matter of fact, I have tattoos covering the numerous puncture scars that I received prior to having the port inserted.  After an EKG and a half hour later, the same nurse came in to access my port.  She tried three times and was having a hard time flushing my port with saline and had no blood draw.  It deterred her enough to have her de-access my port and search both arms and the backs of my hands for a peripheral vein for the anesthesiologist to use.  She ended up giving up and waiting for him.  When the anesthesiologist came in, he told her to access it and he’d try the flush.  He found no problem with it.  That made me question the skills of the nurse even though she mentioned that she was an oncology nurse.

Talking with the anesthesiologist was interesting, to say the least.  We went over my history with anesthesia, medical issues, and what to expect.  At this point, I made it a point to ensure that he knew about my aversion to people touching my head.  He didn’t seem to take me seriously.  Multiple times, he even laughed, no matter how serious my facial expression and tone was.  I had to press my point repeatedly.  Finally, he asked if we could start out the way he planned and then progress if need be.  I reminded him of my aversion and even suggested that they strap me down.  I worried that someone would get hurt if I was not put under and unable to control my reflexes.  By that point, I really hoped that I got through to him.  I couldn’t risk anyone’s health or my own, so I imagine I sounded like a broken record, but I needed him to understand me.


My message for this entry?  If you feel that the medical professional is not listening to you or doesn't seem to understand what's important to you, keep repeating yourself until they do.  It could mean YOUR life or someone else's.


Next…my experience during the procedure.