Thursday, February 16, 2012

The weekend spent down the "Dead End"

OK, lets get right to it tonight.........

We left off with my transfer to the oncology unit on Friday where I would wait over the weekend for surgical biopsy on Monday...... The room I was admitted to was in the back of the unit no other patient rooms past mine, just a short hall that lead to doors that went out to an open air lanai/balcony.
Of course my (twisted) thought process went right to the thought that maybe an oncology unit was the last place you would want an lanai 7 stories up with no covering......You know what I am getting at!!! But later as a wise friend pointed out - if you had cancer and were at a point of "jumping" you probably wouldn't be in there seeking treatment.  The lanai actually became a big saving of my that it allowed me the opportunity to remove myself from the smell, sound, feel of being in the hospital, could smell fresh air (as fresh as Honolulu air can smell), wind, sun, rain on my face....just an opportunity to escape this new "reality" that had been thrust on me. Looking up mauka wanting so bad to be home in Hakipu'u.
Because of the location of my room and my difficulty remembering its number I took to referring to it as  the "dead end room", when I would ask for something at the nurses station and they asked what room I was in I would respond "the dead end room". As I walked around the unit and met the staff, talked story a bit and they asked response was same...."you know the dead end room..... the room down where the hallway ends" finally got to the point that one of the nurses pointed out that perhaps referring to a room on the Oncology Unit as the "Dead End Room" was probably not the greatest descriptor. So I agreed it would from then on be referred to as the room down the "cul-da-sac".....(It will ALWAYS be the "dead end room" to me).
It wasn't long before the deliveries started and quickly the dead end room filled with, cards, drawings from my nieces and nephews, stuffed one nurses aide said upon entering "this room looks better than the gift shop"!!!!

I had asked for familiar things from home as I had only packed enough for a brief visit....and this was becoming very apparent was NOT going to be anything brief about it!!! Terry,who along with Nakoa were keeping things in check back home and taking such great care of my cats,  packed the clothes I asked for, my special quilts -one made by my mom, the other a special friend made....just needed to feel something familiar......when the bag was delivered to me, sorry but I my memories get a little fuzzy - (they were giving me percocet like was candies)......I'm pretty sure was Stephanie, Rudy and Brooke who were kind enough to deliver it to me.....thanks guys!!!! (If it was someone else....SORRY).......I know your thinking hey potagee....focus and tell the damn story!!!!!
As I opened the bag to pull my stuff out I realized Terry had collected a bunch of special photographs from around my house, and now my "dead end room" was full of the faces and smiles of so much family and friends.
So yeah I nested ..........
On Saturday morning I met with the Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon to discuss my upcoming surgical biopsy, and for the first time I was given the opportunity to view my intital CT scans.
I am no radologist by any means but I have viewed my fair share of xrays, CT's and MRI's in my day......for sure enough to know that when I looked and saw that HUGE UGLY FUCKING MASS in the center of my chest .......a whole different sense of reality came crashing down on was at that very moment sitting next to the surgeon viewing the images that I uttered the words....."It's good to finally meet you Bob".....of course the surgeon looked at me like I was a little more off than I usually seem....I snapped back to reality said "that is one big ugly bastard.....I gotta name him Bob" I have nothing against any Bob's, Roberts, Robbies, Bobby's etc etc....Never "been done wrong" by a Bob.... I honestly do not know where the name came from but at that moment I had full realization of what I was up against (6 centimeters dont sound so big till you see it sitting in the middle of your chest, hunkered down and trying take up residence).......for me it was NECESSARY that I give my ENEMY a name/identifier .....greet him/show my aloha and then get ready to kick his ass back to the portal of hell he had crawled out of.
We moved on to the little tumors/blebs spread around my upper chest/neck.... most are located on Left side....I think at this point still only one node lit up on the right side. I was BLOWN AWAY when I saw these guys just like small rocks blocking off my vasculature (blocking blood flow) there was complete interruption of blood flow and you could see where the contrast had just flowed to dead ends (again with the dead ends.....hmmmmm hopefully not a theme in the rest of this story), but I was encouraged to see all the little veins that stepped up grew fast to become big boy and big girl veins to make sure my blood was getting to and getting out of where it needed to.
So the plan was the surgeon would go into a node just below my left clavicle and take out what he thought would be enough specimen for a good biopsy/pathology.....he would pass off the specimen to the pathologist who would be in the OR waiting to receive it (I never did find out if it was "Bad Blind Date Pathologist") and everything would go at a standstill until there was confirmation of enough specimen and then the surgeon would close me up.
So like any normal person would do (well actually like only a nurse would do) I asked "since your going be standing around waiting could you just pop my port-a-cath in"??? (thats the implanted IV access that will be used to deliver my chemo...I'll leave a later blog entry for talk about what a port is.
Doc looks at me and says hmmmmm thats a really good idea, not sure why I didnt think of that, and for the ump-teenth time in my life I had to drop the "well you know it takes a great nurse to make an excellent doctor"............So plans were set for Monday, the rest of weekend was for cruising.
My level of comfort in my care team was greatly increase when my oncologist did his bedside rounds Saturday in boardshorts, t-shirt and hididng -full on local boy going surf!!! For sure "my kine doc"!!!  I did however point out the "inhumane" treatment  he would be putting me through by putting me on "lockdown" in the hospital all weekend and it was fully apparent to me where he was going......I did try to snake a "therapeutic surf sesh- day pass" outta him, but was pretty clear he was not getting on the water with the "cancer dude who had a deviated trachea/esophagus and potentially interupted blood flow too and from my brain"........we shared a  good laugh and I was for sure making a new friend.
Sunday was the day that  Koa had set up the "across the globe pule" that was scheduled for 7:08  am sunrise time in Hawai'i.    I of course was up a lot earlier than 7 and was doing my "laps" around the unit, searching out the other lanai's available to sit outside, thinking maybe one would be nicer that the "dead end lanai".....none were, "dead end lanai" had become "my spot"......there were plenty odd spiritual events that occured in the hours leading up to the pule, those are going to be kept private with me (any that involved other folks have already been shared in private) also seemed some folks around the world were having oddities involving me in their lives, according to what I saw posted on my facebook wall.
Let's just say that as I walked out on to that lanai just before 7:00 am I was NOT alone and those that were ushering/joining/supporting me had a presence that was one of the most comforting feelings I have ever felt in my life.
OK...picture it 7:05 seated in a chair I close my eyes, palms facing up ward, feet on the floor my entire "self" opened wide....everything emptied from my being....picturing myself as a vessel ready to receive what could be coming my way......not sure when it started but shortly after there was a burning that started in my other way to explain it....I became painfully aware of the perimeters of "Bob" it was as if he were angy, under attack, trying take a tighter one point I imagined that scene from Alien and I though Bob would just tear right through my chest, hop out of my body and run off to find another "host" .......the burning beacame almost unbearable, but I could feel energy flowing into me and knew in my heart to sit still......this feeling lasted a few minutes then began to subside, as it subsided I felt an overwhelming sense of calm, cool, quiet exhaustion come over me......I felt the mist from the early morning rains that were coming from up mauka, opened my eyes and NO 7:27 AM HST infront of me was this
Anyone who knows me well knows I am not a "religious man" each his own with the religious stuff ....what ever gets you long as you don't try force it on me we all good......however I am and always have been a very spiritual matter what your beliefs, thoughts, whatever.....what happened that morning was POWERFUL ....skeptics will say "was in his head"...."it's what ever he wanted it to be"......say what you will.... I know what I felt, what I experienced and that was my entire self , being flooded with love, light and energy........later conversations would reveal that I was not the only on who felt what I was feeling.
To all of you that participated in the pule at that moment, for all of you that have prayed, sent wishes hopes, good vibes, strength, support all of it my way, I have received it all!!
As I have said to many of you is all that you are sending me from  near and far (and damn some of you are far - I gotta get off this rock and see the world a little more when Bob is pau) is what you are sending me that is the fuel that I have been "tapping" into regularly everytime my tanks start to run low......please keep it all coming......I will put it to all to good use !!!

The rest of Sunday was a quiet calm day spent with friend at my bedside, phone calls, texts, emails, etc etc etc
Evening time arrived and I found myself actually happily ALONE in the "dead end room"......quiet, solice, me time..... that was until the night shift came on........full on local tita style each and everyone of them......we were all freinds fast! To that point that I think it was sometime after midnight I had to throw them out of my room where most had been cruising, talk story and eating all my food. I was NPO at midnight and had been sucking a bag of  poi like a baby on the teat.....never gave it up until 11:59...(it would be a few days later I would pay the price for "pacifying" myself with 4lbs poi in 3 days ontop of being on narcotics - but that is a whole blog experience of its own) I went to sleep feeling very well taken care of, full  and protected......and still very aware that  I was not truly "alone" in that room by any sense of the imagination.......
Monday came, cruising in the morning waiting for green light so could head to surgery.........
lets make clarification now ...from here on  Kehau Watson will be "Kehau #1" and Kehau Egdamin will be "Kehau #2"......has nothing to do with favorites....#1 is the elder(hee hee)
They are both very special women in my life and I wouldn't want anyone to confuse them in my story.......
Kehau (#1) was at my bedside when the surgeon walked in to take care of consents and say I was pretty much on my way to pre-op........NEVER in my life have I seen a grown, very well educated, experienced, professional woman.....turn in to a swooning 14yr old girl like what I was witnessing happen at that very moment. As the surgeon is discussing the risks (ie potential me dying) of surgery, what the plans were, blah blah blah......the "14yr old girl"is .....I shit you not -interrupting him with comments like (and I quote) "I really like you"......."you are soooooo funny (insert giggle)"......"I want surgery on something just so you will do it".........and the #1 all time best question asked of a doctor while he is trying to consent a patient minutes before surgery...........
Oh yes she did folks!!!! I had on of my all time best belly laughs of my life, couldn't have been more entertained and less anxious about going into surgery.....that is a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life as one of the all time favorite moments in life!!
Waiting for the 1:00PM transport to OR call , Kehau (#1) swapped out with Kawika......the polar opposite personality at that moment......ha ha ha ha ha  (love you guys - and truth be told I would have been lost in all of this at the very begining if it wasnt for the two of you) we sat quietly and waited.......I was"refusing" to put on the OR gown till the very last moment , and finally that moment had come.......

That's (hopefully) the last time you will ever see me in a hospital gown!!!!
So, down to the OR I went, sent of calmed after Kawika had stopped all motion, commotion, and we had and opportunity to pule prior to my getting on the gurney.
Huge MAHALO  to Kawiaka and Kehau on behalf of my  family back in the states, from what I have head you guys did and amazing job keeping everyone informed beginning middle and end.....I know it made them all feel better to know I had you at my side during a time that distance prevented them from being with me, priceless what you guys did for us that day.

You would think at this point.......the story would go pre-op, sedate, in the out......wake up in recovery.

NOT gonna happen...... the antics of the day followed me to the pre-op waiting area.....we already established the surgeon had a very strong, funny, small kine tasmanina devil personality....I actually loved him as much as Kehau (#1) and had total faith......until he was standing over me doing my pre op surgical markings..... thats the thing they gotta do now where the use a marker to denote the operative sites, while being confirmed and witnessed, usually and in this case by the OR he was marking my right upper chest where my port was going to be placed he started writing and I heard him mutter "ohhhhh damn" true kolohe fashion there was NO WAY I was going let that go...this was the chance of a lifetime to give the big time surgeon some grief!!!
I was all "HO - HOLD UP"....."NURSE did you here that?!!?!"....."what you don't know your doing biopsy on the left and port on the right"...." what kind of dog and pony show you guys putting on here" ....he had already explained that he does surgery at 2 different hospitals and had started my marking process using the symbols for the other institution.......but I was being smart aleck and relentless thinking I was soooooo funny....
Well I'll be damned if big time cardio-thoracic surgery dude didn't one up me and put my smart ass right in its place......with a devilish chuckle he promptly took the marker and in big letters wrote across  my right pec "P-O-R-T"  and across my left pec "B-I-O-P-S-Y"....
capped the pen, handed it to the nurse, said "do not let him pull his gown back up"......gave me a kolohe wink that rivals my own, smirked said "now you happy?" and walked out calling back, "see you in the OR!!!"
There I sat with the big purple letters written across my chest... laughing and know this doc too had my full only regret was that I didnt smuggle my iphone in my butt cheeks like I wanted too......full on missed Kodak moment.
Into the OR, skooch over onto OR table, folks around, everyone chuckling at the "grafitti" on my pecs....anesthesia being given..... no versed because I made mistake of telling them previous surgeries I became quite the exhibitionsit in recovery room......mask over face...crying......ceiling tiles....why is there a condom on the handle of the or light........familiar faces.....faces I haven't seen in a long time.....not alone.....fade to black..............

PAIN, lots of PAIN....... thoat sore......crying, really crying.....PAIN...
"meester Patrick its ok, you in recovery room".....sweet little nurse at my side...."you deeed soooo goood, awww poor t'ing no need cry"......."here pleeeese put gown back on"...."ohhhh hee hee hee, no dont take eeet put back on!!!!" .....apparently it was never a side effect of versed that brought out my inner stripper.....he shows up following all my surgeries!!! (Margaret QUIET  about the 1984 "fashion show"!!!)
So I gather my wits , start doing the math in my head and ensure the recovery nurses are pumping me full of enough meds that I am teetering on the edge of wakefulness but feeling NO pain.
Truth be told, I dont recall much of anything else that day (Hollywood folks going need to interview my bedside companions for the screen play), back to the "dead end room", plenty swelling, plenty pain.....PLENTY MEDS!!!
I woke the next morning to........

Post op pic.....Jan 31, 2012
Hey I tried to smile and not look like a crybaby......bad job covering huh.....
Once again another "rite of passage" as I was being enveloped in my new reality....this time really permanent.....the first marks on my body that will remain long after Bob is gone..........self doubt....too weak to do this......I want to go back in time......I want to go home.......awwww two beans in a bucket , NURSE I NEED MORE PAIN MEDS........

Lots of Love and Aloha -P


  1. In between the flowing salt water, I was laughing out loud. you make it seem like we're right there with you. I hope you slept well and feel a little more rested.

    1. Oh my god... this is a boldface lie. You were clearly on medication and are remembering this incorrectly. Chemo brain is kicking in...

  2. Sorry, my reply was in response to the blog - not to the comment.

    The very badly misrepresented Kehau #1