Monday, September 20, 2010

Appendage Removed

Howdy ya'll! I went to clinic last Thursday, September 16. My labs were great:

* hematocrit went up to 33.1 from 29.7
* platelets went up to 109 from 105
* white cells went up to 3.6 from 2.5
* neutrophils went up to 2.2 from 1.3

All my other numbers looked great too; e.g., electrolytes, proteins, etc.

The weeks before my clinic visit were spent contemplating having a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI). At first, I felt very unsure about what to do. I was left with the responsibility to make a decision about a process that could or could not be of benefit. Knowing my doctors had no clear data to guide me in the process was a bit of a let down. I asked many questions and talked to family and friends about the situation. To top it off, I have been feeling really well; still tired and weak, but my energy and strength continue to improve. A DLI could make me very sick. I came to the conclusion that the situation was out of my hands. I needed to focus on living now and seeking guidance from the one who knows all, my Heavenly Father.

I did a lot of reflecting on my previous experiences in the hospital, the priesthood blessings I have had, and personal revelation I have received through prayer. I thought about the many people praying for my health and for me to know what to do. I thought about the many temples where my name has been submitted. I realize not all of you following this blog are LDS and, therefore, may not completely understand what I am referring to. All I can say is that my testimony in my faith has grown immensely. I have been blessed with many miracles and tender mercies that come from my Heavenly Father. I cannot deny the spiritual journey I have been on throughout my illness. Contemplating all these things led me to decide to not have a DLI. I feel peace in my decision.

Since I decided to not have a DLI, my counts have been staying up, and I haven't had to have any transfusions since May - I decided it was time to have what has been known as my "appendage" removed.
On November 13, 2009 I had a tri-fusion line put in. On September 16, 2010 (2 months shy of 1 year) I had a tri-fusion line removed. Yippee!!! The line removal process took place in Angio, so I got to see my old friends Dan, Chris, Kent, and Shawna again. This is the crew who did my lumbar punctures. Getting my line removed reminded me of being in labor. Like I had this foreign object in my body that my body wanted out. The pictures and video taught me what I look like when I am in pain; I have had more attractive moments.
And the prep begins.
All ready to go.
Chris explaining what he is going to do: Pull on the line and see if it will come out with some strong pulls. If it doesn't come out, get Dr. Johns to come give it a try. I was nervous.
Chris gave it some good tugs, but the darn thing wouldn't budge. Dr. Johns was called and got there very fast.
Dr. Johns gave the line some very good tugs (harder than Chris), but to no avail. Now it was time for a shot. Man how that shot hurt!
One shot was not good enough. I never numb well! It really hurt when Dr. Johns started cutting. He gave me another painful shot, and then . . .
. . . numbness. I had some fibrous tissues that attached to my line - my scars are always lovely - so Dr. Johns had to do some cutting. He told me some jokes and talked to me about stuff. I learned that boys between the ages of 17 and 25 are the biggest wimps. If you watch the video, you will here me call them pansies. Dr. Johns distraction did help me focus elsewhere until he pulled that line out.
And here it is. I couldn't believe how long it was. The catheter was up in a vein that crosses over my collar bone. You can see where the line was attached to my body. You know, that big red thing; it had to be cut out.
The tools of the trade.
And this is what was left. My cousin said it looked like I was shot by a gun. Dan pushed on the vein in my neck/collar bone for a good 5-10 minutes. I finally told him I was getting a bit "off" because he was pushing so hard.
My cousin Jen took video of part of the process. You can't see much - mostly me reacting to pain.

When the procedure was finished Chris went to put gauze and a big piece of tape over my incision. Not good! I am allergic to tape/adhesive. Chris asked me how I wanted him to keep the incision covered. I determined, with the help of Dan and Chris, that I had to have the gauze and tape. So, Dan found some tape that didn't have a terribly strong adhesive. I had a very itchy, uncomfortable night. I was very sore and sad to miss volleyball. The next day, Friday, my mom and I worked on getting the tape and gauze off. Not an easy process! Some blood from my incision was stuck to the gauze. No wonder I got sharp pains when I moved! This is what we saw when everything was finally removed.

I have tried using a band-aid, gauze and paper tape, and a different brand of band-aid. It doesn't matter what I use. My skin burns and itches. If you look toward the top of the picture, you can see the scar where the catheter from my tri-fusion line was at my neck/collar bone.

This is my shot from today, Monday. The incision is scabbed over. Yeah!!! Now I can see bruising too. I figured it would show up eventually.

My incision is feeling better each day. I can't wait to take a shower without having to worry about covering a big tri-fusion line with Glad Press 'n Seal: That's how you protect "things" when they can't get wet and you're allergic to adhesives.

Thank you Jen (Jenny ;0) for going with me! I'm glad you got to see the procedure. I am glad Kaden got to come with too. Once he found out I was probably going to get my line out, he was determined to go to clinic with me. Hopefully the visit brought him a little bit of closure with everything.


Amy Parker said...

Congrats! Hang in there. If you want to follow Waylon and what he has been up to you can follow our blog www.thejaredparkerclan.blogspot.comWe love you and are praying for you still.

Chris and Laura said...

I am allergic to adhesives, too! This might sound weird, but I've had good luck with Elmer's glue. I use 100% cotton dishrags (brand new) because I'm also allergic to gauze, and I glue it on with Elmer's. I get much less of a reaction from that than anything else. Just thought I'd share.

And you're hair is looking pretty good in those pictures. :)

rania_ka said...

Melanie you are looking GREAT!!!
I'm so happy for you..
I never stop praying and thinking of you..
Love Rania from Greece

Jullie said...

Congrats, Melanie! You look healthy and beautiful in your pictures. I'm so happy for you!