Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weather, transfusions, and dogs

The photo of my back yard was made at about 3 PM today (Saturday February 13) well after the sun had come out, the temperature had risen to above 32, and the snow had progressively melted. For those of you in the mid-west you may be having a hard time figuring out how it merits publications. But in Georgia snow like this happens rarely - never stays overnight, and mid-February is about the time you start looking for daffadils in the yard. Not the yellow flowers usually, but the green sprouts coming up and heralding that the yellow flowers will follow within a couple of weeks. I thought I saw several last week around my mail box.

Friday I was called to come in to NOrthside hospital in Atlanta for a transfusion due to a hemoglobin of just over 7. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen, and oxygen is what fuels about every thing the body does. A normal hemoglobin is about twice 7, and the hemoglobin that confined me to a recliner chair for several days last week was over 8.

So after a brief romp in the yard I confined the dogs to the house and took off for Northside to get blood drawn for a type and cross (the lab work needed to be able to set up a transfusion and make sure the transfused blood matches mine). The expectation was that I would return at 9 this morning for the actual transfusion as an outpatient. Luckily i stopped for a sandwhich on the way, since that was the last meal I would have until breakfast this morning.

I got to Northside and staggered around for a long time trying to find the right office. Atlanta hospitals seems to scorn those colored lines on the floor and large explicit maps and signs that make it easier for patients in less than stellar shape to get directly to the pertinent office in hospitals in other parts of the country. (Not just Northsides, Emory is really bad about this but has lovely marble in the lobby to make up for it). So I spend some time and energy walking from place to place, sitting to rest and catch my breath on every bench I passed. Eventually I found the right place. IT was taking an awful lot of will power to keep motoring myself about and when the nurses in the infusion center recognized that I was getting very short of breath and frequently lightheaded with exertion, they took my blood pressure and discovered a systolic of 89. (systolic is the high numbers - normally the low number is about 89). Which explains why I was having such a hard time.

The decision was made that I should not return home without the transfusion, but the only way to accomplish it was to admit me overnight. So instead of returning home I was sent in for a "23 hour" admission and transfused a couple of units of red blood cells. Sounds simple but the transfusions took a while, starting late and finisheing about 4 AM this morning. Meanwhile the weather was getting worse and worse, snow beginning to blow by the time I entered the hospital and the roads iced over by midnight. So instead of coming home when the transfusions finished I was held for discharge after the sun came out and made some progress on the roads.

Meanwhile the dogs were stuck alone inside the house for nearly 24 hours without release despite efforts to locate someone with a key to the house who could go over and let them out. My nice neighbor returned my call, for instance, but reminded me that while we had talked about trading keys we had never acted on it and anyway he was calling back from below the snow line in Florida...

Fortunately when I got home about noon today the dogs were champs! Despite being confined for nearly 24 hours without relief they had somehow managed to not soil the house. they were quite eager to whip out into the yard and showed no signs of wanting to return into the house for several hours, despite temperatures in the 20s, snow, and the absence of dog food on the outside today.

And I am much improved with my new hemoglobin that tops 9 for the first time in several weeks. Even managed a bit of grocery shopping on the way home (I figutred it was too late for the dogs so why rush? but I was wrong...) it if were not for the fact that I had not eaten since the sandwich the day before except for breakfast this morning before discharge and a few stary graham crackers and snacks, and the fact that I was up most of the night getting blood and having vital signs checked, i would be feeling much much better now. I am anyway. I can walk and not get dizzy or out of breath. Terrific.

And my dogs are champs.

So another new experience. My first, but I suspect not my last transfusion. Half way through and counting...

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