Benzeknees – Professional Patient! Part 2



credit:  Online Stock Photos

credit: Online Stock Photos

This is a continuation from yesterday’s blog post.

After finishing our lunch, we headed to the Royal Alex Hospital (a very big hospital taking up a number of city blocks).  Luckily for me I have a Disabled Parking Pass, due to my difficulty with walking & we were able to park on a level which led right into the floor where the Respiratory Clinic is situated.  Unfortunately, this particular clinic is down a long hallway, turn left down a short hallway, turn right & walk down another very long hallway.  By the time we reached the clinic I was huffing & puffing so bad I didn’t need to ring the bell for service they could hear me trying to catch my breath.

Hubby was quite perturbed about the location & went in search of a wheelchair to help me get back to the vehicle when my test was done.  He was gone for a very long time!  I was taken into a small room with a row of chairs set up for blood draws.  A very nice lady then inserted a needle right into the pulse point of my right wrist.  I will not tell a lie – this hurts!!!  Even though the lady was very good at her job (I have had this test done before where the person missed the pulse & had to dig around in my wrist with the needle to find it).  Thankfully, it only takes a minute once the needle is in & you’re done!

I went out to the waiting room to wait for hubby to return.  He finally showed up with a wheelchair & lots of complaints about everywhere he had to go to try to find the chair.  He wheeled me back to the parking lot entrance & then had to return the chair right away to the place he found it or they would have come searching for him!

By the time I got home Tuesday night, I was absolutely exhausted!

Wednesday morning I began to fast for the second half of the MIBI test.  Hubby once again drove me after he saw how exhausted I was from the first go round.  I was told I would need to eat right after the test, so while I went in to the clinic, hubby went in search of a Subway restaurant (which is surprisingly difficult to find in downtown Edmonton).  Hubby had a staff meeting that evening over dinner time, so I wanted half the sub for lunch & the other half for my dinner.

  • When I arrived I was told to wait in a waiting room which was full of people, all of them there for the second half of the MIBI test.  
  • People were called in one by one to have an injection of radioactive material & then sent back to the same waiting room to wait for 45 mins.  
  • Once you have your injection (just straight in your arm this time – no IV), they want you to eat right away!  But they didn’t explain this properly when they gave instructions, so hubby was still out searching for my lunch.  
  • I was given another cup of Ensure (yuck) to drink.
  • Because I had been shuffled around a lot the day before I didn’t bring a book to read, so completely out of character for me, I joined in the group discussion going on in the waiting room about news events, health issues, etc.
  • One by one we were all called to move into a different waiting room closer to the scanning room where we all met up again.  The second waiting room was much more sedate because there were other people there who looked worried about their upcoming tests(?)
  • I was the last of our group to be called in because I needed to use the chair & the others could use the regular tubular machine.
  • It took even longer the second day to get me positioned the same way as the day before & more pillows were used to jam me into place
  • This time I only needed to have the sitting up scan done for about 7 mins. & I was done for the day.  I met hubby in the waiting room where he had my Subway lunch.  We took it home & I ate it for dinner while he went back to work for his staff meeting.

On Thursday I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I was aching in places I had never ached before.  I was tired & listless.  

June has been a very tough month for me.  I have had doctor’s appts. at least once a week & sometimes multiple doctor’s appts. every week.  My Outlook calendar is full of appointments!   And July looks to be shaping up the same way.

I have a number of other assessment to complete yet.  I have to be assessed for in-home oxygen, for changes to my anxiety & depression meds, for pulmonary rehab, in addition to regular check ups.  I have to continue to work on my disability claims with both the provincial & federal governments.

Maybe now you can understand why I call myself a professional patient? 🙂


Benzeknees – Professional Patient!



credit:  Online Stock Photos

credit: Online Stock Photos

Hi! Long time no hear from right? It’s been one of those weeks!  So few doctors or other health care professionals can honestly explain some of their tests to you, so I thought I would share my experiences with 2 tests I had to have this week.  I had a MIBI test for my heart this week as well as a blood gas test.   Part One (here) explains my experience of a MIBI test:

  • My test was scheduled for Tuesday a.m, so Sunday at midnight all uses of caffeine were prohibited including de-caff coffee, chocolate, soft drinks or ANYTHING ELSE which contains caffeine.
  • Since I am extremely claustrophobic I had been assured I could have the test done in a chair, like a dentist’s chair with a camera & wires hooked up to my chest instead of in a tubular machine like an MRI.  Since I suffer from Panic & Anxiety Disorder, I spent the whole day on Monday worrying about the test for the next day.
  • Monday at midnight, fasting begins.  You are allowed to have water only, but since I have problems with incontinence since my hysterectomy, water was completely out of the picture for me.
  • Clothing required for the test – women must wear a bra (I never wear one anymore so I had to go searching for one) & a blouse that buttons down the front.  I don’t own any blouses that button down the front!  I found one in the back of my closet with snaps down the front, it was bit too tight, but I wore it anyway
  • My test was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday & I presented myself at the reception desk with all necessary paperwork, photo ID, etc. at 9:15.  The waiting room was almost full.  A few minutes later my name was called & I was ushered into a small cubicle with a curtain.
  • A lady showed up a few minutes later & starting sticking leads all over my chest & under my breasts.  She explained the test to me a bit better (would have been too late to back out at that point anyway) & assured me a doctor would be in the room with me the entire time I had one of the chemicals injected into my system.  She gave me a document to sign saying I understood all the consequences of the test which may include death!  When she saw me blanch at this phrase, she reminded me people have heart attacks all the time, you never know when & since I would be monitored by a doctor the whole time, I would be in good hands if something were to happen.
  • A few minutes later another young lady with hair the prettiest shade of mauve I have ever seen came to the cubicle & inserted an IV into my left arm.  She was very good with the needle & it didn’t hurt.  I was left sitting in the cubicle for approx. 10 mins. until the room for the test was available.
  • I was called into the room where I was given the option of sitting in a straight back chair or reclining on a stretcher with the head raised.  I opted for the chair.  A very nice lady introduced herself to me as the doctor who would be monitoring my vitals all through the test.  She explained what the chemicals would do to me, the possible side effects (headache, light-headedness, dizziness, clammy feeling, feeling flushed).  She explained the chemicals would only need to be in my system for about 10 mins. & if I was experiencing bad side effects she could inject me with another chemical through my IV & it would reverse the effects of the first chemical in about 2 – 3 mins.
  • They started the infusion through my IV & I was asked to tap my toes to help circulate the drugs through my system.  I started to feel flushed almost right away but it was not too bad so I stuck it out.   After about 7 mins. I started to feel very woozy & light-headed as well as clammy.  I asked if I could rest my arm on the tray table next to me for support & that is how I finished the test.  When it was over they flushed my system with the antidote, gave me a styrofoam cup of Ensure (yuck) & a cup of coffee (caffeine helps to flush this drug out of your system).
  • I was sent to another waiting room for about 20 mins. where I finished my Ensure & coffee
  • I was then called into another screening room where I saw the “chair” for the first time.  It did sort of look like a dentist’s chair except it was very narrow.  I had to maneuver myself into this chair so my back was fully against the back of the chair between a large grey plastic boxy looking thing (the camera) & the chair.
  • Once I finally was settled into the chair, pillows were brought in to make sure I was pushed as close to the camera as possible all along my left side.  The camera was then positioned very close to my chest & resting on my stomach.  I could not have taken a deep breath (which from their point of view was a good thing because they wanted me to breathe shallowly for the entire test).
  • It seemed to take forever for them to get the camera positioned right.  Meanwhile my left arm is resting on the top of the camera (so I can get closer to the left side of the machine) & it is getting numb.
  • When they finally found a position they liked I was asked to stay absolutely still for 5 mins. & breathe shallowly.  If I took a deep breath or coughed they would have to start the test over.
  • When this part of the test was finished they lowered the back of the chair so I was laying down & re-positioned the camera again.  Again the camera was very close to my chin & resting on my diaphragm.  I had to breathe shallowly for another 5 mins. while they took the second set of pictures.  They did not dim the lights which was a shame because a row of pot lights was shining right in my eyes & making it hard to concentrate on my breathing.
  • I was led to another waiting room to wait while they checked the pictures & my IV was removed.
  • Finally I was released for the day with instructions to present myself again the next day (Wed) at 1:30 p.m. for the second part of the test.
  • I was encouraged to drink lots of coffee to flush the chemicals out of my system.  I could eat & drink normally until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when I was asked to fast again for the 4 hours prior to my test.

Because I was worried I might have to take extra anti-anxiety meds to stave off a panic attack, my hubby drove me to the test.  When I was released, we went & had some lunch at a nearby restaurant because I had an hour to kill before I had to appear at the Royal Alec Hospital one block away for a blood gas test.

Since this is turning into a novel, I’ll continue this tomorrow.  Stay tuned for the next installment of Benzeknees – Professional Patient!

Are You Where You Thought You Would Be?


credit:  online stock photos

credit: online stock photos

This post is inspired by Life in the Boomer Lane’s post on Guerilla Aging http://lifeintheboomerlane.com/2014/03/21/guerrilla-aging-when-where-we-are-isnt-where-we-thought-wed-be/

I am afraid to say my life isn’t what I thought it would be. As part of the boomer generation, I was very much into the hippie movement.

I have always been very independent.  Up until I became pregnant with my daughter, I thought I would be a career woman & never have any children at all.  I had been steadily climbing the rungs of the ladder to that goal (unaware I would have hit a glass ceiling at the time).  I started working my very first job just weeks after my 16th birthday & I worked all of my life up until August, 2012.

In August, 2012 I had been struggling with some health issues (severe incontinence associated with a very difficult hysterectomy, explosive diarrhea associated with gallbladder removal, shortness of breath) & then I injured my left knee. No one had a definitive answer for why I couldn’t bear weight on my left leg anymore (I woke up with it), but I was assured it was “just a sprain.” Except it didn’t get any better. I used a cane, but still had a great deal of difficulty getting around & the pain was not letting up.  I went to the emergency room to try to get some help & was told I was aggravating the “sprain” & was now experiencing micro-tears in the ligaments of my left knee.  I was put on crutches so I would do no weight-bearing at all.   In the meantime I continued to try working.  When my assignment ended I wasn’t in any hurry to take on a new assignment because hubby & I were in the middle of moving from the south end of the city to the northeast end of the city.  I wanted to take some time to get settled in our new place before going back to work.  Except when I tried to go back to work, there was no work for me – I had received an uncomplimentary performance review which referred to my knee injury being part of the reason my performance was not satisfactory.

I had just finished back to back assignments where I was replacing people who had just walked off the job in the middle of their shifts, so I guess I should have been better prepared when both assignments gave poor performance reviews for me.  But I had such an exemplary performance record up to this point, I was totally floored by what happened!  I was 56 years old & I was out of work & not in the best of health.  Although I made a good faith effort to find work, I had no luck whatsoever.  Every job interview for jobs I did not get pushed me further & further into depression.  By the time my employment insurance benefits ran out I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed.

I am still suffering with severe knee pain, severe incontinence, my respite from back pain (born with spina bifida) seems to have ended & I  have recently been diagnosed with COPD for which there is no cure.  My health will only continue to deteriorate.  I was lucky enough to find a medication to help with the explosive diarrhea.

I am fighting with the government to get disability benefits which is mind-numbingly debilitating.  I have had no income for well over a year.  I now rely totally on my husband for support who is fighting his own battle with unemployment.  Who wants to hire someone who is so obviously close to retiring?  (Sorry hubby, but you do look your age)  This is hard for me to do.  I have always had my own income & even if it was low income, I was always able to contribute to looking after the household.  Due to back pain, knee pain & shortness of breath, it is difficult to help with any household chores.

Why is it when you need help due to disability, the government puts so many roadblocks in your way to keep you from getting the help you need.  You’re sick, but expected to jump through hoops, when walking is difficult enough.  You’re already dealing with the loss of ability (& possibly your approaching demise) & the depression which accompanies it, then the government adds to your depression by making it all so difficult for you.  A blogging buddy has said the government does this to you because they hope you will be too sick to keep up the fight, so they won’t have to pay out the benefits you have paid into your whole life.

credit:  online stock photos

credit: online stock photos

I thought these years would look much more like the picture on the left.  My husband should be retiring in May of 2015,  but it’s not going to happen.  Like he says, he will probably have to work “until he drops dead.”  His unemployment benefits run out in another couple months.  Our retirement savings are slowly dwindling as we have to use them to supplement our income right now.  We have pared down our expenses & soon may have to make some tough choices about changing our frugal lifestyle even more.

This is not how I thought I would be spending my remaining years.

The True Cost of Stress

1 Comment

This was so interesting, I couldn’t help but re-blog so more people get to see this! Thanks for sharing Rarasaur!

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