So What Should We Believe?

The TEE I mentioned in my last entry still has not happened. I worked a full day yesterday, typed two doctors’ reports and was well into a third one when the work day ended, and around 5:30 I went over to Mount Carmel West to be with Steph. (She had texted me late in the work day to say the TEE would be tomorrow–i.e., today. So, I told my supervisor I wouldn’t be in today, and I wasn’t.)

Steph blew another IV during the night, so her pulmonologist ordered that another one be installed. The TEE would be on hold until that was done. The new associate minister at First UU, Rev. Eric Meter, came by a little before 9, since that was when we told him the TEE would be happening. Because of the IV blowing, Steph was waiting for a team to come in and install a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line, since they were having such short-term success giving Steph regular IVs.  It took two hours and a team of nurses and aides, but by 11:30 or so, Steph had a PICC line in her right forearm.  It could stay there, if kept properly clean and sterile, for nearly two years, and would be a good place to deliver Coumadin.  (Our insurance carrier, Aetna, has a home-nurse program for situations such as this, and it authorizes 180 visits per year–almost one every other day.  We didn’t even know this–a nurse who works for Aetna called Steph on the phone, just out of the blue, and let her know.)

The team didn’t have the PICC installed until after 11:30, by which time there was no doctor or technician available to do the TEE, so it has been postponed until tomorrow.  Both Eric and I had been asked to leave the room, so we sat in the fifth-floor lounge, and Eric bought us lunch at the hospital’s Wendy’s.  He had to leave for a meeting at First UU soon after 12 noon, but he was still there when we found out that the procedure had been postponed.

What is truly puzzling was the visit from the pulmonologist.  He says that he is not 100% convinced that Steph had pneumonia.  Yes, she had fluid on her lung, but that could have been a result of the surgery, and it would drain away on its own.  Her blood draws and cultures have been coming up negative for Staph or other bacteria.  He was not happy about the PICC line.  Yes, they did call him during the night when Steph blew the IV, but he did not authorize a PICC per se, mainly because it can often be a doorway to more serious infection–especially one leading straight to the heart–if it is not maintained religiously.  (Radiology had X-rayed Steph after the line was finally in place, to make sure it was reaching the heart, and it was.)  He still wants a TEE, but Steph is questioning whether or not that’s necessary if the labs say there is no infection.  The TEE test is not fun, and Steph is also eager to be out of the hospital, since she has been there since Saturday.  She plans to try and pin down the cardiologist when he makes his rounds this evening.

I ate a wonderful meal last evening when I got home from the hospital.  Our friend Joanna had cooked it and left it in our refrigerator, so I had it later in the evening.  (Susie had gone to the first older kids’ choir rehearsal at First UU on Tuesday evening, and her godmother Cynthia had brought her to see Steph afterwards, while we were in the fifth-floor lounge watching Big Brother X.)  It was quite late in the evening before I ate, because I wanted to dry some clothes I had put in the washer after work.  The dryer and stove are both in the kitchen, and yet there’s only one heavy-duty outlet in the kitchen, so I cannot have both working at the same time.  I dried clothes first, then put the food in the oven for 45 minutes (per Joanna’s recommendation, when I E-mailed her from work yesterday to ask), and checked E-mail and read The Marietta Times‘ Website to see what was going on in the city where I lived until I was 19.  I had a somewhat productive evening, creativity-wise–I E-mailed a poem to The New Yorker and wrote 3.5 pages of a first-person men’s health article I plan to submit to Maxim or Penthouse.  The poem has been through more incarnations than most Hindus, and the prose has already been rejected by the first obvious choice for publication, Men’s Health.  There was an AutoReply from The New Yorker that said that a reply could take as long as three months.

And I can live with that.  I remember the severe beating my ego took when I mailed a short story to Esquire in 1987, still high from two classes with Jack Matthews at Ohio University.  Their entry in Writers’ Market said to allow three to six months.  The rejected manuscript came back in six weeks.  It felt like I was getting my story back on the tines of a pitchfork.

I’m going to wrap this up and then see if the letter carrier has brought anything interesting.  There have been thick stacks of envelopes from Aetna, and now the Cleveland Clinic, so I’m hoping that something different will arrive.  A personal letter or post card would be best, but the latest New Yorker (or even Catholic Worker) would be great as well.

I ripped the Wild at Heart soundtrack to this laptop the other night, and I’m listening to it while I type this.  Currently, it’s on Chris Isaak’s "Wicked Game."  He and I must have dated some of the same women.  (The song reminds me of something I overheard at a New Year’s Eve party in Cleveland when I was 19, a 1982-into-1983 party.  I overheard a guy in a hallway, about 16, saying to a girl his age, "I’m really starting to like you, and it kinda bothers me."  That was one of those lines that I had to jot in my breast-pocket notebook right there and then.)