Today Don reached an important milestone toward the goal of returning to our traveling lifestyle. He had a fistula surgically created in his arm. He was sent home with a stethoscope to check for blood flow through the site, and instructions to call the doctor immediately if he doesn’t hear anything.
The surgical procedure only took about 30 minutes in the OR at St. Mary’s Hospital. It was done under local anesthesia, so recovery time was also predicted to be minimal. However, for a 7:30 a.m. check-in, we set the alarm for 5:30, allowed time for rush hour (forgetting today is a holiday for many, so traffic was light), and arrived about 7:05. Don was called in to be prepped about 7:40, then I was allowed to join him about 30 minutes later. We had almost an hour to wait for surgery time set for 9:30, during which time he read and napped, and I read and tried to stay awake so I wouldn’t fall out of the uncomfortable chair. The surgeon stopped by to greet us and do his last-minute checks, asked if I would be in the waiting room (yes) and said he would find me after surgery. Then the anesthesiologist came and said they would not be using a general anesthesia but a minimally-invasive local one. We were both happy about that decision. The nurse showed me the way to the waiting room and gave me an ID sheet to give to the attendant there. She also said the doc would come find me after surgery.
I found a comfortable seat in the waiting room and waited…and waited… About an hour and a half later I asked the attendant to call and see if Don was still in surgery. She said he had just finished and was being moved to the recovery area. I waited another hour-plus before asking for another call. Now they said Don was getting dressed. A few minutes later the attendant escorted me to where Don was sitting in a wheelchair, ready to go home! The doctor never came to see me and none of the surgical staff was available to give any information about how the procedure went. This is unusual for St. Mary’s, and the discharge nurse made note to pass along my unhappiness to the surgeon.
I always say bad news is better than no news. Waiting is always hard, especially when you don’t know what’s happening. Given the expectation of a short procedure and local anesthetic, I was left wondering if something had gone wrong, if they had to resort to general anesthesia, etc. It was great news that none of my fears were realized, but I could have been spared the angst.
When healed (in about 3 months) the fistula will serve as the portal to perform dialysis at home. (Note: if you look up ‘fistula’ you may find lots of definitions. This one is a Cimino fistula or Cimino-Brescia fistula, named after the doctors who invented the procedure in 1966. It is the most effective, longest-lasting method for long-term access to patients’ blood for hemodialysis.)
Some people wonder how it’s possible to do hemodialysis at home. If you’re curious, you might want to look into the NxStage company. The equipment is relatively small, and we believe we can adjust to make room for it on Don’s desk, where the printer now sits. The printer isn’t used very often and can probably go in the bedroom, as it communicates wirelessly with our computers. Here’s a fellow who uses the NxStage system on his boat!
Besides the freedom to travel, there are lots of health benefits of doing home hemodialysis. There are also risks, but with proper training and care in following procedures, and with professional contacts as a backup, we believe we can make it work. The trickiest part will be to plan our travels ahead of time in order to have supplies shipped to us, and to choose RV parks or other facilities where the packages can be received on our behalf. As a member of the Elks (BPOE), I’m hoping to find Elks Lodges that might accept shipments for us.
When we finally left St. Mary’s around noon, we were both starving, with no breakfast or lunch, so we stopped at JerryBob’s and indulged in a breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs. It’s good to break away from the diet once in awhile!
While the fistula is healing, Don will continue to go to Fresenius Medical Center for dialysis 3 times a week. In about 3 months, it will be tested for viability before we will be able to start home treatments. And our training should take place within this time period, as well. We’re hoping to attend some of the RV events in Quartzsite in January, but it will be iffy.
In other matters, here are a few pictures and comments on our life in Tucson.
It’s finally cooling off enough at times to be able to sit outside. This is my first published selfie where I sat outside on our patio one nice afternoon while Don napped.
Agave-Gulch FamCamp is starting to fill up a little more.
And the new section (sites 201-287) across the road from us, that was closed during the summer, is now open.
The second new sewer hose mentioned in a previous post also started to show evidence of pinholes, and a few friends reported the same experience with roadrunners and other birds looking for water. So I covered the hose with split pvc pipe to prevent further damage.
So far, the pipe covers are staying in place with just the electric cord and water hose crossing them. If they move around I’ll add some bungee cords.
Don and I have been to the Park Place Mall a few times, to walk for exercise in air-conditioned comfort, eat at the food court and see a few movies.
He always stops to admire this gorgeous Indian Roadmaster – think they would take his 4-wheeler in on trade?
The new management at the FamCamp are always coming up with fun things for visitors. This little Green Man and his trusty companion will be loaned to families with children to remind people to go slow around the RVs. Lora found about a dozen of them on a close-out sale because the flags were missing. Carol & Dennis – you should watch for a feline version!
Joan is getting into the Halloween spirit with a dancing Snoopy dressed as a pumpkin. We both were giggling while watching his lively dance moves. I stopped by to deliver a package of truffle fudge (on the left) as a small thank-you for Joan & Bob’s help on receiving packages for us, helping us get a nice site, giving advice and making referrals, and the many other small things they do to make our stay more pleasant.
We’re moving ahead on repairing/replacing/maintaining our two vehicles. Ken Cameron of Cameron’s Reliable Maintenance Mobile Service installed the new power cord and reel a few days ago.
We have an appointment on Thursday at La Mesa RV for replacement of the two motors and hardware on our small bedroom slide, as well as a new water pump. Floyd Hall, our Service Advisor, was amazed that my phone call to Bob Tiffin resulted in full coverage of the parts and shipping from Alabama! This same job was done just over 2 years ago in Green Bay, WI, and Bob was surprised to learn that the same parts had failed again. Let’s hope we have better luck after this fix.
And finally, our nice little Honda CR-V “Carrie” is getting some attention. She had a lube and oil change last week, and is going back to Chapman Honda on Wednesday for more serious work including brakes, suspension, tire rotation, etc. Time for another visit to Park Place Mall to kill time while waiting!