Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm just not that kind of cat

I'm a little concerned because every day I'm becoming more and more like my cat. And not Tiger, the sweet, compliant, easy-to-please one. I'm starting to resemble Puss, the feisty, particular one who knows exactly what she wants and gets grumpy if she doesn't get it.

Puss is the one who likes attention, but only on her own terms, which means that she must be sitting on my left side. Not the right. Not on my lap. Only the left side will do. She's the one who rejects all but one of the six varieties of canned food produced by Friskies. The one who insists on breakfast at seven and dinner at five. The one who likes to be stroked while consuming her meals. I blame it on her previous owner, a single 82-year-old man who doted on her for more than a decade.

I realized the resemblance when I went to Nordstrom's last week to purchase a new pair of shoes for a corporate gig. I knew exactly what I wanted, something halfway between sensible and slutty. I marched in and told the salesman, "I'm looking for a black pump with a peep toe, a quarter to half inch platform, a sling back and no more than a three inch heel." He marched me over to the perfect pair.

When he brought out the pumps, he also slipped in another box "that I thought you would like." I was delighted. I thought my salesman was like Pandora, the music application that can select tunes you'll love based on past selections. It turned out that it was Pandora's box, not Pandora. I lifted the lid and the foul odor of rubber tires rose like a fresh peel-out on asphalt. Why would he bring me such hideous and stinky shoes?

"These Tory Burch beach sandals are such a good value I thought you'd like them," he explained. "Only $55." I wanted to tell him that I liked quality, not status, and that status symbols without quality were not status at all. I wanted to yell out, "What kind of fool do you think I am to pay $55 for rubber beach shoes that smell like a tire?" Instead, I said, "No, thank you." I was so disappointed in the salesman. I thought he "got me," but he didn't have a clue. (I didn't know that buying shoes could be like dating.)

But there's clearly no doubt that I, like Puss, know exactly what I want. No wonder my doctor, who treats me like an equal, always asks, "And what do you think about this? I know you always have ideas." "Do you mean I'm really opinionated?" I asked.

I once feared that I ran the risk of becoming a "passive patient" because I trust my doctor so explicitly. When I confessed this fear to my (ex) husband, he said, "That's one thing you don't have to worry about." I guess that was a compliment.

Sometimes I think that I'll surprise my doctor one day and just coyly shrug my shoulders, tilt my head and mutter, "Whatever." But even while writing this I realize that's unlikely to happen. Apparently, I'm just not that kind of cat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baby Banter

Head over heels in love with this new little man in my life

Funny how a few words can change your life.

Two and a half years ago, it was "You have cancer."

Six months ago, it was, "Mom, I'm pregnant."

Two days ago, it was, "My water broke."

39 hours later, it was, "WAAAA!" - the first sound from baby Joseph.

He arrived a month earlier than expected, but both he and his mommy are healthy and strong.

I, on the other hand, am tired enough to fall asleep standing up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sleep Watching

Some people can sleep any time and anywhere. I envy them.

Take the 20-something young woman I saw at The Coffee Gallery the other day. She plopped herself down on an overstuffed couch while she waited for her boyfriend. Since she had nothing to do, she stared up at the fans spinning lazily overhead. Soon, she was as mesmerized as a six-month-old. The next thing I knew, she was sleeping like a baby.

“Oh, to have such a simple life,” I thought as I pretended to write. And then I realized that I was entertained by watching someone watching spinning blades. And then I stared some more as she slept. And then I Twittered about it. And now I'm blogging about it. Does it get any simpler than that?

Apparently so. Today I watched a patient at the City of Hope fall asleep while he leaned against a wall. I hopped up, tapped him lightly on the shoulder and offered my seat. He refused and I insisted until I had offered and he had refused three times (that’s the secret number of times one must insist, in case you were wondering). I felt a little bad about waking him and slinked back to my seat.

Within seconds, he was asleep again. I spent the next ten minutes watching him sleep standing. At one point, his head jerked violently back, but, otherwise, he was as unmoving as a corpse. I thought only horses could do this.

I took a break from my sleep-watching to have my vital signs taken. When I returned, I was happy to see the man still slumbering . . . in my vacated seat.

Warning: The next few paragraphs may cause drowsiness and should not be read while operating heavy machinery. However, if you or someone you know is taking Rituxin, the information may have the opposite effect.

I recently read that Rituxin, the monoclonal anti-body that I take every quarter by I.V., can lower resistance to infections, especially pulmonary infections. A blood test can measure the number of infection-fighting immuno-globulins, and, if the numbers are low, patients can receive a special transfusion.

I asked my doctor about this today, and he agreed that it was a good idea to draw a little more blood so that we could look at the immuno-globulin numbers. He also said that oncologists continually debate the merits of maintenance Rituxin because a) it can lower resistance b) the efficacy is debatable and c) Rituxin can no longer be used in relapse cases after it's used for maintenance. I knew about the efficacy debate, but I didn't know about the other two issues.

If I wasn't insured, I would skip the Rituxin. I called billing recently because the cost for one dose of the drug was $18,000. I thought that had to be a mistake, but it wasn't.

My EOS are creeping back up again, so we've delayed any further tapering of the Prednisone. Something else I learned today: I'm my doctor's only patient with eosinophillic issues. Oh, how I love being the one and only.

Alright. You can wake up from that snooze now. I'm just sorry I wasn't there to watch you.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Diprivan, "Vitamin P" and I saw this coming

I just read that the powerful sedative Diprivan (also know as Propofol) was found in Michael Jackson's home.

I can understand the allure of the drug because I recently came under its spell (administered by an anaesthesiologist, of course). I was half joking when I wrote this:
But don't tell anyone. If word gets out about Vitamin P, it could be the next illicit street drug. Just imagine the applications. Sleep-deprived parents. Cramming college students. Anyone wishing to sleep through 15 minutes of boredom, pain or grief.
I just wish it wasn't a joke.

One article described the discovery of Propofol in a home as "unusual." No, raising a pet chimp is unusual. Wearing a mask in public is unusual. The at-home use of a powerful drug, intended to be administered by a licensed anesthesiologist in a clinical setting, is unheard of, dangerous and tragic.