Thursday, April 29, 2010

It Can't Get Much Better Than This

"How are you young lady?" Dr. Petty asked as he walked in. That's a great question to ask as I am laying on an exam table with an IV in my left arm, surgical bonnet over my knitted head warmer,warming blanket over my knees and the anticipation of my heart being tunneled and juggler vein punctured to install a Hickman central line.
"I'm o.k.", I replied. I wasn't lying. "I don't want to be put to sleep for this procedure.'
"OK," said the Doc.
"What is your infection rate?" I asked.
"One percent. The lowest infection rate in the world."
A man named Hickman invented the Hickman central line catheter to the heart for blood draw and transfusion. He was in Seattle. Dr. Petty studied with Hickman and learned how to install the line from the one who invented it. Dr. Petty installed my Hickman. I stayed awake throughout the procedure and opted for a local rather than general anesthetic.
Sample of banter went like this:
Petty: I'll give you just ten more questions," he said to me.
Me: You are stingy. Usually a person gets twenty.
Petty: You get ten.
As we went along, he reminded me that he was counting!
Petty told a joke.
I didn't laugh. He wondered why?
Hilarity was in the operating room but I dared not laugh. Would the rising and falling of my chest with laughter complicate the procedure? I held as still as possible, chest up with a block of riser under my shoulders and neck turned toward the wall. 90 minutes of operation. At one point, what felt like Peter Rabbit thumping across my chest happened though I was so draped that I could not look. When I was asked to take a deep breath, I was awake to do it. Cutting, tunneling, stitching. Out with the Power Port and in with the Hickman. At one point, Dr. Petty said he was king of the room. At first I was concerned about Petty's take on his role until I recognized that Petty was not present to abuse his power but claim and use his potentate position to dictate and supervise the proceedings. "Would you like to see what it looks like?" he asked me at the conclusion of the operation. "Sure." He sat me up with one hand helping lift from behind my shoulders and his other hand taking mine. Beamed from the x-ray screen was the loop of central shaped like a robed body with head bowed in prayer. I went out of the operating room singing. Wouldn't have missed being awake for Hickman placement for the world.

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