Thursday, March 29, 2007

Run in with the law

Today dad and I ran up to Federal Way to get some stuff and advice for my Beetle, and on the way back, a cop that was right next to me at the light, got behind me and turned on his lights. I had no idea what I could have done. There's no way I could have gotten up enough speed; I wan in a Bug. All my lights and signals worked, and my dad was even wearing his seatbelt for once. But it wasn't my dad's seatbelt habits he was worrying about; it was mine. As soon as he looked at me, he realized that I was wearing my seatbelt, but I had it under my arm. He told me that I have to have the shoulder strap over my shoulder. I told him I wasn't because I had a catheter in my chest, but the blank look on his face told me he didn't know what I was talking about, so I said, "well, you wanna see?" and before he had a chance to answer, I pulled down my shirt and showed him my Hickman. The quick jump back that he took said "no" so I said, "Oh, I guess you didn't want to see it", so he just ran my license, and let me go. Dad still doesn't wear his seatbelt all the time though.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well, it turns out that medicaid is going a lot slower than they told me it would the first time I talked to them. I don't know why one person told me one thing while another person told me something completely different. That's red tape I guess.

Last week though, I was involved in my own little episode of Scrubs. For those of you that are not familiar with the show, you can see it on Comedy Central every night around 7pm, and Thursday night on NBC. Watch it. You'll like it.

So it started tuesday two weeks ago. I had an appointment to have a Hickman line put in for collection of my stem cells that week. A Hickman line is type of catheter that enters in the chest, tunnels under the skin up to the collar bone, then enters the jugular to the heart. It's a way to get high volumes of liquid in and out of me. In this case, that liquid was blood.

So I went in early Tuesday morning and got prepped for the surgery. I'd heard a few people talk about their Hickman lines, and Dr. Hickman, but from my research on it, I found that Dr. Hickman had invented it in the early 70's, so I thought that there's no way he'd be doing it. Wrong. We asked why it was called the Hickman line, and the nuse said that we'd have to ask Dr. Hickman, but he'd probably say that it was because they thought it wouldn't work.

So the nurse was prepping me up, but she said that she'd leaving shaving my chest to Dr. Hickman so when it was itchy growing back, I could blame him instead of her. Well when he came in, he handed the shaver directly to my mom and said, "You made this handsome man, you shave him", so my mom shaved the surgery site while he stood there with a big roll of tape cleaning up the clippings.

So they knocked me out, cut me open, and stuck some tubes in me, I woke up, recovered, and went upstairs. Here's where having a hose hooked up the my jugular comes in.

For the previous 5 days, I'd been conditioning myself by giving myself shots of an immune system stimulant to cause stem cells to enter my blood stream. The goal is to collect 5 million stem cells that will be given back to me after conditions for the transplant. So they hooked me up to this machine that's kind of like a kidney dialysis machine and started pumping the blood out. They thought it would take several days to get to 5 million, but I surprised everyone by getting 10 million stem cells on the first four hour session.

So up to this point, everything was going smooth, and I went home around 5pm. I wasn't even really that tired from it all because I slept during a lot of the collection, so I stayed up fairly late. At around 12 that night, I was sitting in the chair watching TV, and just getting ready to go to bed when I looked at my shirt and noticed a small spot of blood. When I looked at the bandage, it was soaked with blood. I called the late night number for my clinic and talked to a doctor who told be that if it wasn't dripping, then I could just bandage it up and wait until morning. That's what I did, but at around 5:30am, I noticed that it was again quite soaked, so I got up and heard that dad was awake, so I knocked on his door with my hand over my shirt, and said that I either needed to go to the hospital emergency room or to the clinic in Seattle. When he asked me why, I removed my hand from the bloody shirt, which made him kind of jump back a bit, and we left about 15 minutes later.

Armed with a fresh bandage, I arrived in Seattle at about 7:30 and got a nurse to look at it. She couldn't do anything to make it stop, so she send me down to Dr. Hickman to take a look at it. He said that everything was fine with the line itself, and that I just needed to put pressure on it for a while. So I laid there with a sand bag on me for a while, and that seemed to stop it. A blood test showed that I was low on platelets and they decided that I needed some more, so what we thought would be a 2 hour trip became an all day thing.

Dad and I grabbed a bite to eat at a local cafe, and came back around 1:30 for my platelets, which took about 2 hours to get into me, and when I was done, I should have been all patched up and ready to go. Except for a pesky new blood spot on my shirt.

So at this point, the nurse was starting to get concerned and she got Dr. Hickman to come back up. After she paged him she started talking about how great he is. She told be about the first time she met him, and then several years later after she moved to the clinic and he remembered her, and how he's just a great guy, and a Nobel Prize winner etc, etc. In short, he's a saint.

When Dr. Hickman arrived on the floor, I can hear his path, all the nurses stop what they are doing to say hi, see how he's doing, he's idolized. But when he walked into the room, all he said was, put pressure on it, and the bleeding will stop. This didn't go over well with the nurse. She was convinced there was something wrong with the line, and there was nothing she could do about it. "It friggin Hickman, you can't argue with that!" But I was still leaking, and she was pissed, so she called my nurse and doctor, and since it was almost 5pm they got me in at the UW hospital, where I was stiched up.

So by 6, we were out of the hospital, I'd stopped leaking, and mom and I (mom and dad had traded places at around 3) stopped for Thai food before going home. Fun day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Red Tape

The DSHS has finally gotten all my paperwork, so now they'll have to sent it to Olympia to get it approved. The person I talked to on the phone said that it should take about a week. So maybe that will all be good and I'll get help from them.

I am also trying to work with my insurance company to get them to cover living expenses. I talked to a social worker at SCCA, and she'll see about appealing the 75 mile rule, but according to a nurse that works for the insurance company, that is a difficult thing. They basically deny them all. But, that's an insurance company person telling me this, so I really don't know what will end up working.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Getting somewhere maybe

Last Friday I got a bunch of stuff from the DSHS. They want everything. My bank statement, my work experience, letters from my last two employers, my education background, my hobbies. It's like a cross between applying for a job and going on a blind date. So I've gotten all that stuff filled out and sent in to them.

Also, a friend of mine has a cousin that works for the state determining Social Security benefit elegibility, so I called her today and asked her about this stuff. She talked to some other people in other departments for me, and is sounds like it's likely that I'll qualify for Medicaid, and that they'll get me an apartment in Seattle. There's also another program that she told me about that can help me out.

So now I get to wait again for another few days, and in the meantime, start my second cycle of chemo on Wednesday.