The Stacey Report

Wait, forget that — read this instead.

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on July 23, 2009

Oh, dudes, what a treat you have in store. I’m kind of jealous, actually, because I’ve already read it and you haven’t.

I’m just going to savor the moment.

OK, I have savored. So, I just wrote that thing about Stacey and the chickie? THEN I get an e-mail from that very same Stacey (no word from chickie), to wit:

I wrote a thing. Of course, then I noticed that you wrote a thing about the same thing, so you don’t have to use this thing. Except that it has more stuff. Stuff and things, things and stuff. Either way.

Thank you for understanding the gist of the story: my brain ain’t dead yet.

This is very excellent, partly because it is really well-written (ibid., intelligence) and partly because, true to form, I messed up a bunch of details.

So here it is!



So, Tuesday was treatment day. It was a Herceptin & Zometa day as opposed to just a Herceptin day, so that means that I get blood tests. MGH would like to give you a blood test if you so much as look in a window, but I only need them to check liver and kidney function to make sure they’re fine before I get the Zometa, so I only need them every 6 weeks. To complicate matters (because that’s what I do), I have a port and the blood is drawn through that. Apparently only certain people can do this as it’s much harder to plunge a small needle into an area of cork-like substance just under my skin than it is to probe around in my arm trying to find the one and only vein Nature has deemed good for the job. But, whatever, I’m not complaining (except that I totally am); only special people can do a port draw. Fine. But here’s the issue: those people are kept in the infusion lab on the 8th floor, not in the office lab on the 9th floor. Fine. FINE. So, I’m supposed to show up on the 8th floor and have my blood drawn, then go upstairs to see the doctor, then go back downstairs to get treatment (but I’m already accessed because they don’t take the needle and tubing out after doing the draw; they just wrap it up neatly and shove it down my shirt. Uh, ok.). So, this Tuesday, being both a Herceptin & Zometa day, I show up on the 8th floor for the previously scheduled port draw. I have my vitals checked (they LOVE checking vitals), then go back out to the waiting room to wait for the special port drawing person. All as normal. Except that then this GIRL (Oh, yes, a pissy rant is on its way) comes out and tells me that I’m “in the wrong place, dear.” Ok, I added the “dear”, but she meant to say it.


“Yes, you’re supposed to get your blood drawn upstairs.”

“But I never get it drawn upstairs.”

“Ok, hold on, let me check.”

>(time passes)
>I really need to play Zork again.
>You’ve been eaten by a grue.

“You only get your blood drawn down here half the time. They can do it upstairs.”

“No, I only get my blood drawn half the time AT ALL. It’s done here EVERY TIME.”
(and here I could go on another rant about data and the analysis of said data and how I’m likely better at such a thing than this slip of a girl. I mean, I COULD.)

So she goes back again to check. Which means, of course, that someone else is telling her what to say.

“They say (at least she’s honest here) that you need to go upstairs.”

“And is there someone there who can do a port draw?”

Elaborate, ELABORATE shrug. It was a thing of beauty, really. I was completely impressed and went upstairs just based on the strength of the thing. It said: I’m young and beautiful and completely out of touch with what is going on here, but please be distracted by my cute little smile and go away. Dear.

I should have asked to speak to whomever she was speaking with, but only thought of that later. I was distracted by the shrug.

So, I went upstairs to check in for the doctor’s appointment (for which I was now late, of course, not that it mattered) and let the guy at the desk know that I was supposed to have had my blood drawn downstairs, but that they sent me away. He let the nurse know, who let the doctor know, and about 20 minutes later (there’s no escaping the inevitable waiting) both came to the door. TFDB (“The Fabulous Dr. Browne” for those new to the lingo) was in high dudgeon, which was fabulous. There was some wasted time as blame was assessed (I know who I’m blaming and it isn’t anyone in her office). Then they tried to tell me that they would draw the blood up there, but that it would have to be through a vein. HA!

“Oh, sure, no problem. You can try that, if you like, but I hope they’re good because it took 6 sticks last time.” (Not really; not for a draw. It took 6 sticks, from 3 people, to get a line in one time, but that’s not the same as a blood draw. I was just being dramatic, if you can imagine such a thing.)

“Huh, well, maybe there’s someone who can do a port draw.”

I certainly hope so.

During all this I was being ushered into the exam room by another nervous young thing who was trying to tell me How Things Work, while I was disabusing her of such notions. A few minutes later she was back to say that they had found someone and could I please come to the lab down the hall. Right-o.

The nurse they found to do the draw was very nice, and had, at some point in the distant past, done port draws before. But not recently, which means that she was rusty, which means that it took two sticks to get the stupid needle into the little cork-like thingy. It’s really so simple; I could do it myself. I don’t know what the problem is. Anyway, she finally got it done and back I went to see TFDB.

Half of the appointment was spent bitching about the whole series of events, about 40% was spent on how rotten teenagers are, and about 10% was spent on actual medical things. No weird lumps (I’m not completely sure how you can get a lump in a pile or former stomach now doing duty as a “breast”, but mine is not to reason why.), and she couldn’t feel my liver, which is always my worst fear. She commented on how great I was doing (Hey, good job on not dying yet!) and then I was out.

Well, then it was time for treatment. By this time I’m an hour late, but they don’t seem to mind, except that there was no one left on the Check In desk, so the Check Out lady had to cover. I’m sure that will be discussed for years to come.

Anyway, after a very short wait I was brought back and offered a warm blanket. Uh, it’s July and I’m…well padded. I’m already quite warm, thank you. I was told I’d have to let my nurse know that I refused the blanket. Whaaaa? Uh, if you’d like to report back to the nurse then report away. I’ll just be over here wondering why on earth it’s a capital offense to decline (nicely, of course) the offer of a warm blanket. Did I mention it’s the middle of JULY?

So, I get hooked up and I’m pumped full of drugs. Then I leave, get stuck in traffic on the Pike, foget to get something at Whole Foods and have to stop at another one, and finally get home about 7:30.

In the end, what really happened to me? Someone screwed up an appointment and I was inconvenienced? No, I didn’t really care about those things. What pissed me off the most was the attitude of the girl who told me I was in the wrong place, dear. Can’t we just start with the assumption that I’m an adult in full command of her faculties (I went through this part with Auntie Deb and forgot the term for a few seconds, proving exactly the opposite) and then, if I act the part, you can treat me like a child? Or was she treating me like a sick person? I think that’s more likely the issue. There are many, many, frail, sick people in that area. I walk past many rooms with beds occupied by deteriorating bodies, so I’m sure they’re used to that.

BUT I’M NOT ONE OF THEM! To look at me you’d never know I have terminal cancer. I don’t even usually use that term because it’s not who I am. I’m not terminating, there’s no termination going on here. That word has no business here. I’m still stomping around being loud and obnoxious, yelling and swearing, taking up the same amount of space (too much) as before. My cancer stomping feet are stomping, stomping, STOMPING this bastard disease and no one can tell.

We all carry around shit that defines us; secrets that no one can guess unless we tell. But if I’m in Suite 8A – Infusion, in the Yawkey building at MGH, then it’s a fair guess that I’ve got a certain kind of shit going on and there is no hiding from that. And so, I guess, when an appointment gets screwed up, instead of apologizing for wasting my time, some newly minted assistant something-or-other will tell me that I’m in the wrong place, dear.

And that sucks.


Stacey: Idiot Or Non-Idiot?

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on July 23, 2009

I’m thinking…… non-idiot.

But others would say different! Apparently!

Yesterday was a treatment day, and I think my sister knows by now how treatment days go. Every other week she has a blood test to see if she has, y’know, blood and everything. Stacey has, if you recall from past Eewy Medical posts, a port: a permanent IV line under her skin. Why does she have this odd thing? Because she has “uncooperative veins” and she’s forever getting pincushioned by inexperienced medical folk. Port = for-sure impalation.

This is important because at the hospital they only do port draws upstairs. So here are the true facts that Stacey knows: She has blood drawn every other week, she has a port draw, not a pincushion draw, and they only do port draws upstairs. They don’t do them downstairs.

So yesterday, Stacey goes upstairs for her bi-weekly port draw (which they only do upstairs.) The nurse at the desk (I believe Stacey used the word “chickie”) tells her:

“Oops! You’re supposed to be downstairs for this!”

“No, they don’t do port draws downstairs.”

(With the condescending tone reserved for dim little old ladies) “I’m sorry, I know it’s confusing! But today you’re having your blood drawn downstairs, ok?”

OK! So I’ll stop here to explain something. In our family, many virtues are highlighted, but the one that garners the most attention and praise is intelligence. Wordplay, insight, uptake, debate, quick wit — these are highly valued, and they are the ways we enjoy one another’s company. Part of showing respect for one another is the base assumption of intelligence and, by extension, competence. So if Stacey tells me she’s supposed to be upstairs because it is her blood-draw week, and she has a port, and they only do port draws upstairs, a respectful response would be “Huh! It doesn’t say that here — let me take a look and see what I can find out.” It would be a pretty big insult to say “I’m sorry, I know there’s no way you could have a good reason to think that, so I’m going to completely dismiss your opinion, ok?”

Yeah, so that’s pretty much what miss chickie said. Well, you can imagine Stacey’s response, all the stronger because when one of these appointments goes long, everything gets pushed back and she ends up waiting around all day.

“No. I have a port, and they only do port draws up here. I have an appointment up here for this blood draw.”

Chickie goes back into the office to talk to someone. “OK, you’re supposed to be here every other week, and the alternate weeks you get your blood drawn downstairs.”

(With growing irritation) “NO. I only get my blood drawn every OTHER week. I’m scheduled to be here every other week  because I have it drawn every other week, and I have that done here because I have a PORT and they ONLY DO port draws UP HERE!”

Chickie goes back to talk to mystery office person, comes back out: “You’ll have to go downstairs.”

Stacey grits her teeth and makes that Grandma Ridgely face. “Oh for Chrissake!  Do they have anyone downstairs who can do a port draw?”

Chickie shrugs sheepishly.

“Fine, I’ll go, but they are going to send me right back up here. I’ll be back.” Stacey stomps out.

As it turned out, by sheer luck there was someone downstairs who could do it (not very well) — on any other day, they would have sent her back up. Which would not have been too pleasant for Chickie since by then my sister was a seething mass of firey rage.

The moral of the story: don’t insult a Bancroft girl’s intelligence. It makes us cranky. You wouldn’t like us when we’re cranky.