News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

A hospital EMT named Cat helped me on the gurney. Soon after, a nurse named Dawn came into the room. I knew instantly I’d like her, because of her wry sense of humor saying I probably hadn’t planned on spending time with her this evening. Then she took a look at “it” and gave quite the exclamation saying that was “a big mama”! I both appreciated and chafed at her honesty. Later I told the nurse practitioner Pat about it, and she said Dawn was their frank nurse. When Pat first opened the door to say she’d be back in a moment, she had a clipped tone to her voice which made me think I might not like her. But she was probably my favorite person in the ER. Yes, I was a wimp and cried. She was the first to hold my hand after what felt like an endless wait. She nicely let me know that moving my finger with the oxygen monitor on it was setting it off as was holding my breath. Her hands were warm and gentle no matter where she had to touch, and every time she left, she got stuff done as quickly as she could. Pat was the one to tell me I was anemic (low Hemoglobin / red blood cells). Pat brought in a soft-spoken Dr. Hamilton to look at “it”, and after a quick consultation, Pat told me “it” was not a hemorrhoid. She called it a growth that wasn’t supposed to be there. Perhaps for some people, this would have been difficult news with the fear of cancer, but I felt relieved. Dr. paddock the admission doctor was just as nice but had the coldest hands! Later I told Pat that “it” went back in, with fleeting visions of going home. Those were quickly quashed when Pat and Dr. Paddock said it didn’t change the plan for admission.

My second-favorite person in the ER was a lab technician who wore wonderful perfume. She thanked me for my compliment and told me not to say anything. Apparently they are not supposed to wear it. She told me the perfume was named for a singer named Nicki Minaj, and she seemed to gain a new respect when this 40-year-old started to softly sing one of Nicki’s biggest hits. I think it also helped that I was good-natured about a couple of missed attempts at drawing blood. I hadn’t drunk anything since supper, so finding a useable vein was tough!

I was on the gurney for hours, because a bed was not available. I could have gone home and come back the next day, but coordinating rides would have been impossible! It was also apparent that I really needed help as described later I used this gurney time to update Phil and text my doctor and parents. I didn’t expect a response, but Mom reminded me the next day she’s a light sleeper. Mom replied this was supposed to be a hospital-free month. This was a needed laugh, and her offer to call was so apreciated! She’s not a nioght owl like me, so I told her I was OK and to go back to sleep.

I was finally wheeled to my room on the eighth floor about three in the morning. I enjoyed the majority of my wheeled rides, including this one. The one thing which made this ride a little harder was the silence at least partially due to lack of English. He would undo the locks on the gurney without warning, and the combination of the loud sound and palpable jolt made me jump! Then I had to be fitted — to the best of their ability given the late hour — with a CPAP mask. I use one at home to force air, so I don’t snore. But when I left the house, no one knew this hospital visit was going to be what it became. The face masks don’t seal well for me, so neither the quantity nor the quality of sleep was the best.

My night nurse Arthur was kind, but I was glad I didn’t have to use the bathroom on his watch. The unfamiliarity of the routine bleeding I’d been used to for months startled a female nursing assistant the next morning. She brushed off my detailed warnings until suddenly, she had to deal with it. this time, she had to do all clean-up, because I had no hands capable of doing anything. I had an oxygen monitor on one hand and was connected to an IV pole to receive fluids with the other. Because surgery was possible, aside from a little water to take medication, I had nothing to eat or drink since supper at five Monday night.

An ongoing monologue I had throughout my stay was, “Now where the **** is that stupid call light?” I had a malfunctioning light, so sometimes people would appear when I hadn’t pressed it. Other times it was not within reach of me — given my restrictions of being attached to tubes, chords, and — later that day– anti-coagulating massage slings on my legs.

My morning nurse Lualle seemed abrupt at first, but she handled my worries and especially cleaning me and the bed up with warmth and understanding. When “it” was visible, I had less control. I’d always told Phil that having to depend on someone for this kind of stuff would be hard for me, and it was very humbling! I also had to be catheterized for just a minute for a urine sample. Apparently, the urethra is not in the same place on women, and there was a lot of poking and prodding before we had success. I am glad I didn’t have to where it constantly.

There were visits from Dr. Paddock’s admission partner Dr. Sangrin and a colorectal assistant named Maggi. They both saw “it” in the flesh so to speak. Maggi estimated it was about the size of a golf ball. Later, another colorectal doctor came in when “it” was not visible. The torture of this doctor trying to find “it” ranked right up there with the bumpy ambulance ride and several people’s attempts to push “it” in. But the decision about what was to be done was in the hands of the head colorectal surgeon, who had many Tuesday appointments.

While waiting, I got on WIFI and tried figure out a way to get a charger for my iPhone. The social worker check with the Patient Rep office — which had chords for earlier versions, but not for mine. Another nurse Marlene was kind enough to wash the clothes in which I arrived. After a nap, I asked for the regular phone and called Phil to update him and strategize about how I could get one of our cords. The problem was Phil was scheduled for dialysis after work. Zane was spending the day with our friend Lisa until Phil got home. That was at nine in the evening. Another friend, Dwight, came through for me later that day. His wife has the same phone as I do, and he’s been wanting to get her an extra cord. He ran it over Tuesday evening, but meanwhile, I could do nothing but be with my thoughts and talk to a few people on the phone. Phil updated my Mom. She called and we spent some time on the phone.

I was always ready to end the conversations abruptly when the Colorectal surgeon arrived. That wasn’t until about 5, and at least by then, my afternoon nurse Kristin had set me up with a radio. It turns out Kristin knew me, because her parents attend the same church I do. We were having this conversation while she listened, understood, and responded to the same warnings I attempted to give the nurse assistant that morning. The only thing I had to correct with a smile was her “if I bleed” to “when I bleed”. From then on, I had a female nurse help me through the bathroom routine. The good news about the radio was discovering a new station I liked. The hardest part was that many commercials were food related! … Subway, McDonald’s, frozen food in the grocery store … it all sounded great! When Kristin asked if she could get me anything, my standard answer was “a Big Mac and Fries”. By then, we knew surgery was going to happen Wednesday, and Kristin told me I could have it then.

I’m not even going to attempt to spell the colorectal surgeon’s name. it’s Swedish, I can’t even pronounce it, and I’ll mess it up. Dr. N and I had rapport right from the start. I told him I had a little friend who appeared now and then and either was wrestled back into his hole or went crawling back. Luckily, he had popped out to say hello. Dr. N told me he wanted to help me get rid of my little friend. Even though that meant surgery, it was still a relief. Dr. N got to deliver the joyous news that “he” had a stalk and was the first person to use the word “polyp”. the polyp disappeared naturally after very painful pushing didn’t work. Sorry to give such detail, but it’s important for a reason. I was told that if the polyp had remained visible to Dr. N, I probably would have been in surgery that night. There was concern about blood loss. I was also startled to learn that the colorectal fun will continue. Most people don’t get a full colonoscopy before age 50, but I have the “privilege” of starting early. The only consolation is that Phil also did.

The time between Dr. N’s and Dwight’s visits was filled with the shared wry sense of humor and laughs with an IV nurse named Carol. My IV had stopped working, so with the assistance of the IV fluids already on board, she inserted a new IV on the other hand.

Dwight breezed in with the iPhone charger, a happy disposition, and a little Easter music amidst my Lent of humility. for the next few hours, I was a happy camper! I loaded the Amazon Cloud Player App and could listen on WIFI to everything I bought from them. This was great for finding some music to distract me from my anxiety and help me settle down for the night. My night nurse Vali helped get the respiratory therapist moving. Kristin called, but nothing was happening. The respiratory therapist found a much better fitting mask more like the one here at home.

I also listened to a meditation podcast about St. Joseph — using a Catholic app –, which I felt had been especially for me. Joseph trusted God no matter what, and three words from the music stayed in my head all night. “God is Enough”. By the way, just as on St. Patrick’s day one is supposed to where green for the Irish, on March 19, one wears red for the German celebration of St. Joseph’s Day. Being three quarters German and one quarter Irish, I do both. I primarily wore the white of the hospital gown that day, but maybe red blood counts as wearable — even if my red blood count was low.

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