Sights and sounds of trying to beat a blood disorder in an 'infusion center.'
|"Welcome to the Infusion Center" the nurse said brightly. She hustled me along to my "chair' as well as one can hustle someone dragging an oxygen canister behind her slowly.
So much had to be done as soon as I sat down that I really couldn't look around much then. "Small veins," the nurse said, "oh my." She got a warm blanket and wrapped my arms to make the veins "pop up" better. That's a good thing to know as I never know when I might want to find a vein for some reason or another. Finally, a sucker vein was found and blood was withdrawn to cross and match so I could receive blood transfusions. It reminded me of computers -- garbage in, garbage out. After that, the nurse brought another warm blanket and tucked it around me, started an IV of saline infused with some Lasix (makes one pee a lot) and then left me to await the arrival of the blood.
I looked around. Almost every chair was occupied. Most everyone had the same expression on their faces -- more about that later. Most had been left alone for the long, drawn-out process, and those who care for us would return for us later.
Above each chair, a TV was mounted high on the wall, all turned to the Today Show on NBC. Here and there on counters throughout the center were large platters of wonderful looking fruit -- apples, bananas, oranges -- uneaten by people who no longer had much appetite. There were plates and plates of doughnuts, strangers to me since I developed diabetes. I didn't know whether to be glad or sad that I wasn't even tempted to have one. An array of faux wigs and colorful scarves and other hair accessories were in pretty baskets all around the room, for people with little or no hair. I'm in the group of having little hair left now.
There was no conversation from patient to patient although we were within talking distance of each other. I suspected, like me, they were tired of thinking about and talking about cancer, the death seeker. Also, people who need blood badly tend to be tired, and pale, and sometimes sleepy and most always cold on the skin.
Finally, the blood "lady' brought my blood to the staff, and they hooked me up right away. It took seven hours to get the three units and the Lasix between each one, a real drag. We were all served lunch during the day, but I mostly enjoyed hot tea with lemon, not being a fan of hospital food even when I had an appetite.
I might have drifted off to sleep a while although I never admit such a weakness, but soon enough, Kathy, my dear friend, came to take me home. "How did it go," she asked.
"Bloody well," I said with a wink.
As I left the center, I glanced at my neighbors in neighboring chairs, most getting ready to leave the center also, and we shyly made eye contact and then moved along. The facial expressions were a little different perhaps than earlier in the day.
I wondered if I had the same look as they. It wasn't a look of dread or fear or anger or surprise. It was a look of determination that said we will fight for another day of this wonderful, precious thing called life, even if it means borrowed time and second-hand blood.