Tuesday’s visit and..

In hindsight, we all think of great ideas. Like we should get a hotel room close in when we have back-to-back, long days. It turned out to be a short visit!!!!

The blood work process is a system all to itself.

  1. Get your lab work done on the eighth floor of West Clinic (Elevator B)
  2. Get your vital signs read at the center door.
  3. Wait. for the labs to post in My Chart.
  4. Play the guessing game on if you will need platelets or blood today?
  5. Get called for a review with the Nurse Practitioner
  6. Either hunker down for the day for a transfusion or go home.

This routine happens as early as 6:00 in the morning and as late as 11:00 in the morning. The hardest ones are the super early ones and the ones that take us through rush hour traffic. It is a solid 35–50-minute drive from the house.

We have travelled plenty over the years and have made the 4 am alarms to catch super early flights. This is not the same. 8-).

The other stations

If you think of the hospital as a buffet, then you have the different stations to choose from such as the omelet station, the bread station, etc. The one consistent about our trips to MD Anderson is that we almost always have blood work to do. (Juice Station?)

The ATC (Ambulatory Transfusion Center) is like a dessert station. The final sugar high to send you on your way. This is the place where everyone will go for their transfusions and outpatient chemo. The rooms will vary in size. I wonder about the architects’ vision for this place. The waiting area is an interesting place in and of itself.

It is common to see people laid out on couches with warm blankets, sleeping. They have chairs that have footrest looking out the windows overlooking the Valet Parking lanes. People have food and are eating or towing their IV tree around in search of the warmth of sunlight.

There is the Wounds station, where Michele will get her bandage over her Pic Line entry changed weekly. It is another waiting area that finds people chatting, reading a book, watching the one TV for a favorite Home and Garden show.

Throughout all the waiting areas, you will find the newbies, the veterans, and the lost. Trying to decide whether we leave this area to go eat or go to take care of this other appointment down the hall? All appointment times are suggested.

We know we are blessed the most as we live in Houston. To hear loved ones seeking out a place to live while in treatment can be heartbreaking. Some take advantage of discount hotel rates in the area if their stays are short. Some rent an apartment for them to stay in when they are in town, which can vary from days to weeks. Then there are those that in for the long hall with a temporary relocation and are looking for a home to be their “cancer home”.

In all the sounds and buzz in the hospital, I tend to focus on the caregivers with the patients. There are some “Love of a lifetime” stories in these halls. You hear in their calm repeating the answers they just gave twice before. You see it in the pushing of the wheelchairs on those days when the patients can’t walk on their own. You see the younger patients with a parent and the older patients with a child.

Then there are the patients who are alone.

This is where I think the staff at MD Anderson and the culture stand out. No one really is alone in the building. The staff are aware of everyone in the waiting rooms. You can see it when they regularly bring a fresh blanket to the patient passed out on a couch. You see it as the members that are on the transportation team wheel patients around from one location to another.

Today is a day without appointments. So, we will begin knocking out some work here at the house. Time for a cup of coffee, a spin on the bike in a peloton class (I am in much need of exercise on the body) and tackling the world for a new day!

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