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Wave Your Hands in the Air Like You Just Don't Care

11/17/2004 11:56:44 AM

Well, here we go again, another post to sing the praises and expound upon the glories of modern medicine, where patients are given extraordinary, hands-on care by their nurses, the same nurses who are then summarily ignored by the floor's (or medical discipline's) Attending and their gaggle of desperately sleepless Interns following them lockstem in hopes of learning something about whatever rotation for whatever disease they are currently studying, the same Interns who, blurry-eyed and near comatose from 36 hour shifts necessitated by a medical system hanging precariously to relevance by the threads of their ancient lab coats, are charged with making life and death decisions.

MY life and death decisions.

If you are wondering, I'm in a bad mood.

I tell you this because now, here at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) on the 17th of November, the very morning that I was scheduled to begin my Total Body Radiation, it has not begun.

Indeed, the morning after the nurses here become concerned that my morning cough was not as inconsequential as Dr. Luger and I had determined only three weeks ago when I had first asked her about it, and only 18 hours since the "Attending" Radiologist looked at the small spots on my lungs in my new x-rays and determined that they were pneumonia, and not--as I theorized--blood that I aspirated two weeks ago during what is now called by the entirety of the medical community here in the Delaware Valley "THE Nose Bleed of '04."

(Not that he could know, since when he came in to tell me his diagnosis was the first time I'd laid eyes on him.)

Yep, it's now the morning after that same quick-thinking Attending, after a short consult with my nurses and a very brief conversation with Dr. Luger, came to my room (again, this being the first time I had seen him) and declared that this pneumonia was indeed a very bad thing, and despite the fact I had no other symptoms, cancelled my transplant.

Yes, all of this is part of last night and this morning and both are part of the ongoing, exciting and not a little annoying "Ozard Journey," all of it climaxing upon my return from the nether regions of this hospital where I'd gotten an ultra-sound on my left leg (another story, with no good reason to tell), when another Attending Oncologist came in and told Sheri and I (Sheri, God love her, had slept here last night on a fold-out Lazi-boy type chair) that they might have made a mistake--and that I probably didn't have pneumonia after all, and instead they'd spend the next 24 hours or so trying to find out what it was.

Oh, and by the way, there was now no way they could do the transplant until at least late December.

What does this mean?

Well, right now, as we wait, we don't know. They're going to do some more tests--a new CTScan (cat scan) chief among them--looking to discover what that grey mist of a cloud on my lung x-ray is after all.

But first things first: we do know for sure that I need a bit more blood, so I'll be getting another transfusion, adding two more pints to the two they gave me last night. This will take about four or five hours, and after that my CT Scan, so I'll be here a bit longer, probably overnight, and maybe long enough to make me watch Survivor and the Donald here on my groovy adjustable bed.

Pray for us. I'm confident that I'm developing hypertension over these crazy doctors, and a slow aversion to nurses who role into your room at Midnight and after 3 minutes announces that "it all happens for a reason."

Perhaps it does happen for a reason: somebody's not doing their job.

God sure ain't shuffling this deck of cards.

Funny, a good friend recently asked how this is shaping my theology, and I responded that I've pretty much concluded that studying theology has come to this: it's the study to determine who among the "experts" has lied to us the least.

Meanwhile, millions are dying of AIDS or starvation overseas.

Pray for them.

Lord knows some missionary is lying to them about how their suffering is "all part of God's plan," even as I write.


Despite my liberal-slash-progressive Social Democratic street credibility, maybe it is time to revisit my position on the death penalty--and reserve it only for theologians and pastors who heap "weight upon weight" of burden on the suffering. Yep, it might be time to revisit Medieval times and burn a few of them at the stake, and let the orphans they oppress light the first match, then kindle the fires with a few "Jack Trick" tracts.

Like I said, I'm in a foul mood.

More to come, as we get the answers.

With love, however cranky,

Dwight (and Sheri)

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