Skirting the issue
Wednesday July 29th 2009, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life

Ah, my, trying to figure out a way to write about this one in a way my mother won’t object to…

Okay, first: in answer to the question about whether I named the toy white cell Sam sent me? Leuk, of course, short for leukocyte.  Leuk! Leuk! Use the Farce!

Ahem. Next: I have a few skirts made from a microfiber polyester suede-look fabric. I love natural fibers, but these have earned their keep. They’re pretty imperturbable, indestructible, and in my experience, given that they don’t absorb stuff, they are definitely un-stainable. (They also seem much more a California fabric to me than something I’d wear back home in 100% humidity and heat in the summer.)

On to our story.

Ways to be of service do not always come in pretty packages, and when they don’t, the chance of the moment is completely in how you unwrap them.

I had a pre-op appointment at the hospital early this afternoon. They were very thorough. They wanted to know absolutely everything.

And I drove that poor nurse nuts.  She was clearly not having a good day before she ever laid eyes on me, and in comes this fuzzy-memoried woman who can’t remember what year she had which complication of lupus or Crohn’s. How long have you had…  How long has this…  Sixteen years or eighteen?  One month of really being an issue, or…?  (How do I know how much is an issue to you when it’s not to me and it hasn’t been to my doctors?)   Blood pressure 86/45 ON the med to raise it?! Do you feel dizzy?  You *don’t*?

Nah, this is normal to me.

She got on the phone to my cardiologist’s office asking for further details to be faxed in, and in came another nurse with an EKG machine. The first one asked me a few questions, rolled her eyes at me, and let the EKG begin.

At the end, (it was normal), the EKG nurse drew the curtain for me to get dressed again and left, and the irritable nurse suddenly heard a sharp exclamation of OHMYGOODNESS! And then, since there was a sink and soap on my side of the curtain, a, “How do you turn on the water!?”

“Foot pedals.” And then she called to me, in rising concern, “Is everything all right?”

Oh my goodness. In the grand scheme of things, well, yeah. In the moment, no.  Going to tuck in my shirt, I had somehow hit the little loop at the top of the two-piece ileostomy bag and–it had never even occurred to me that such a thing could happen–the thing had burst apart across the inside of my lower clothes. I shut it back up and washed my hands, but my stars. It was bad.

I thought back to one doctor who’d told me confidently, “And now that you’ve gotten comfortable with the bag…” where I almost interrupted him to ask sweetly and innocently, Oh–did I say that?

Here’s one saving grace: hot cocoa for breakfast does not stink in such circumstances. (An aside to Dad: I am SO justified! Neener neener. Heh.)

I apologized to the nurse for stinking anyway, feeling that it’s always good to care about one’s impact on others.  She assured me she smelled not a thing.

Thinking back, I was a tad rueful, surely, but I did not get upset. Sometimes things just happen.

And from that point on, she thawed.  She knew and I knew there was nothing I could do till I got home and showered, and I think whatever was wrong with her day, she was probably thinking it wasn’t as bad as walking down the hallway hoping that… my problem didn’t get…worse… (Where’s that guy with that mopping machine?) I wasn’t entirely sure that thing was entirely secure now.

But you know, when that nurse comes back to where she can laugh again in her life, whether that’s tomorrow after a good night’s sleep or whether it’ll take a little longer than that, she’ll be swapping this story with other nurses for a very long time to come. The ileostomy patient who flipped herself off.  Ohmygoodness.

That blessedly indestructible skirt kept my not-tucked-in silk blouse completely clean all the way home.  Nobody walking down the busy main hallway at Stanford Hospital could tell anything was wrong as I went back to my car.

And there was a jumper, for wearing post-op, made out of that same fabric, waiting in a box for me outside my door when I got home.

22 Comments so far
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Ai! Yi! Yi! We do have days like that, don’t we. Never any fun, but then we can remember that it COULD have been worse. We don’t think that at the time. If I had a nickel for every time that happened to me, I could retire. Oh, I AM retired! There’s a phrase out of a song, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” In your case, I suppose, it’s shower yourself off.

Time for some fun — we need it:

Andy Rooney said, “Many modern artists work in geometric shapes. They like angles, circles, cylinders. They mix them, balance them, stand them on end. Most of us aren’t ready for it. We know the artist is trying to tell us something, but it’s a foreign language, and we don’t understand what it is he is trying to say.”

Which reminds me of a joke. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you.)

A young woman entered a museum of modern art. She knew little or nothing about such art, but thought she’d have a look around. She wandered from one gallery to another trying to understand what it was she was looking at. She did find some paintings intriguing. But then she happened upon another gallery where the art was most disturbing. Some were black and grey backgrounds with streaks of purple and bilious green. Another looked as if the artist had stood back and thrown the paint at the canvas. And another looked as if someone couldn’t keep their lunch down.

It happened that the artist was sitting off to one side of the gallery, so the young woman went over to him and said,”I really don’t understand your paintings.”

The artist stood and drew himself up to his full height, and said, “Madam, I paint what I feel!”

“Have you tried Alka Seltzer?”

Comment by Don Meyer 07.29.09 @ 8:01 pm

Well I can laugh a bit more now. WHen my daughter was a toddler and we were landing after a transatlantic flight, she threw up all over me. All my hand luggage was toys, food, clothes for her…no change of clothes for me. “Eeew, what’s that smell?” The people in the immigration line were saying? “It’s me. My daughter threw up on me.” They still gave me a bit of room but were very sympathetic, one saying “I did that to my mom once” and other parents nodding in understanding. Once I got my bags I was able to change but, oh, some memories stay with you. No miracle fabric stories, though.

Comment by LynnM 07.30.09 @ 12:04 am

I so look forward to reading your blog. I know there must be times when you feel down, but when you write in here somehow you manage to always find your sense of humor and your resilience and lovely spirit always come through. Will be thinking of you and wishing you more of that strength and resilience and unflagging good humor through the surgery to come.

Comment by Beckett 07.30.09 @ 12:26 am

Oh, my gosh, Alison. You must write a book about all this when you feel better. Yes, we all have bad days but the nurse should not let hers show when others around her need her care more than anything else….top notch care and an attitude does not measure up.

Comment by Joansie 07.30.09 @ 4:52 am

Thank God for the miracle fabric, huh? Wow… What a day!

I will agree with Beckett: you always seem to find some humour in the most unpredictable ways. That has to be a blessing!

Please take good care of yourself and do enjoy the hot chocolate! 😉

Comment by Suzanne 07.30.09 @ 5:24 am

I love natural fibers but aren’t we so thankful for the technology that gave us synthetics! I marvel at how you kept your composure. Reminded me of the little book I saw at the Gastro office, “Everybody Poops”.

Comment by sherry in idaho 07.30.09 @ 6:18 am

Somehow it always seems easier once we are through anything so tough and that you can maintain a sense of humor is amazing.

Hats (and shawls) off to your composure and best in the coming several weeks.

BTW – it is possible to knit lying flat on one’s back, trust me. Even when it is made challenging by that morning’s reconstructive shoulder surgery.

Knitters conquer all!

Comment by Holly 07.30.09 @ 7:00 am

You continue to inspire me. You embody grace on a level I can only hope I live long enough to get half that far.

And yes, I am living in cotton and linen because we’ve gotten to that point in the Mid-Atlantic summer where the humidity and the temperature are often similar numbers, too close to 100 for anyone’s liking.

Comment by Channon 07.30.09 @ 7:01 am

That’s what I love about you. That you can have that kind of morning, and what you chose to take out of it was that you might have lightened the load of another. I have much to learn from you, but I fear I’ll never learn it.

Comment by Candy 07.30.09 @ 7:09 am

That type of poly fabric is indestructible in my house as well-and I’ve found baby wipes clean most anything away in a pinch. You have a marvelous sense of humor (but you already know that).

Comment by Michelle 07.30.09 @ 7:23 am

Once again I find your reaction (or lack of reaction!) to life’s ups and downs amazing. You are an inspiration.

Comment by Marlene 07.30.09 @ 7:35 am

oh Alison — I’m glad you “survived” the day and the nurse!

thanks for reminding me, as I’m dealing with my own little bowel issues after surgery that it could be much more difficult

I’m praying for you

Comment by bev 07.30.09 @ 7:47 am

I just checked back to read the other comments and I noticed LEUK EMBIGGENED! Those eyes and that expression are SOOOO cute!

Comment by LynnM 07.30.09 @ 8:05 am

What an adventure!

And although i have a big soft spot for all-natural fabrics, I am SO glad we have modern choices, too!

I think my most embarrassing adventure involved a horrible dizzy spell, with my head stuck in the fridge, right after a bath, while I was starkers.
I couldn’t let go or move without falling, and with my messed up abdomen, I wouldn’t be able to get up without a LOT of help (talking at least two strong paramedics)
It still gets a grin from my husband (who had to rescue me).

Comment by Diana Troldahl 07.30.09 @ 8:10 am

Alison’s Adventures in Iliostomy Land. Yes indeed, you should write a book. Thanks for the morning smile. 🙂

Comment by Julie 07.30.09 @ 8:41 am

I’m glad you helped the nurse, but I can’t help so wishing it had been an easier day for you.

Comment by RobinM 07.30.09 @ 9:57 am

You know, the comment about writing a book about your “adventures in medicine” was a good idea. It would be a winner for support groups for new post-op patients. Make it a good blend of down-to-earth advice and humor, and it would wonderful!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 07.30.09 @ 10:57 am

My sister in law has been dealing with an ileostomy bag for decades–although she’s never said much about it to me. I think she only discusses it with members of the club. I’d put you in touch, but she’s currently serving a mission in Mongolia. It makes her a little hard to contact, but it does prove that you can’t keep a good woman down.

Comment by LauraN 07.30.09 @ 12:44 pm

Thanks for the sunshine. You always seem to find it. 😉

Comment by Alicia 07.30.09 @ 1:02 pm

Tee hee…’good’ in a situation like that? Not much, but humor, at least! I wanna know details re the fabric and where to order. Please.

Comment by Ruth 07.30.09 @ 2:47 pm

Things do just happen, and you dealt with this thing gracefully, caring more about offending Ms. Crabby Nurse than anything else. I’m not sure I would have been so sweet. 🙂

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 07.30.09 @ 4:32 pm

Even when you first mentioned skirts, I thought, she needs to get herself a couple of jumpers! And there it was! Ha. Good for you.
Oh gee, what will you think of next to “thaw” out a frosty nurse…

Comment by karin maag-tanchak 07.30.09 @ 8:33 pm

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