20) Risky Thursday

June 15, 2006

El Milagro: Today I get here and Diane, the mean-looking new guy, and Debbie are around; with Debbie working on the other half of the room. Phyllis is supervising. Debbie points me to my chair and I get ready for my session. She begins to cannulate me and finally calls the supervisor over because she can’t get the return needle set right. Herman comes over and pulls the trocar (needle) and sets another one, further up my arm. Of course, you might recall that these trocars are about the size of a ball-point pen cartridge and somewhat painful when being inserted. It is less painful with his expert insertion than it was with Diane’s jabbing it around trying to set it correctly.

So, then Diane continues to set up my tubes on the machine and I settle down to read my book. About 5 mi
nutes later, she returns and, although I am focused on my reading, I notice that she is unhooking my tubes from the leads on the needles. I ask “What’s up?”, and she replies, “We made a mistake… you got the wrong dialyzer…” About that time Phyllis rushes up and apologizes, saying, “I’m really sorry but we messed up and you’re in the wrong chair. Your chair is the next one over. That’s where we set up your dialyzer.” So, in a somewhat perplexed and becoming worried state, I drag my leads, my blanket, book, and other stuff over one chair and sit back down. I’m thinking, “Okay… so what can this mean. I have been having my blood go through this other guy’s dialyzer. He hasn’t had his blood going though mine since he hasn’t been hooked up yet. Is this bad? What’re my risks…. Let’s see; this center had a 2% fail rate last year… am I about to be a statistic?”

Phyllis is trying to make be feel a little better. She reports, “Well this is not good. This is only the second time in my years here that this has happened on my shift. Even though these dialyzers are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, and should be really clean before each use….. we still keep each patient’s separate. It should be okay.” And then, almost as if she is thinking to herself, she continues, “We have to write up an incident report, call both doctors tonight to report it to them, draw blood for lab on each of the patients to check for anything….” And then she leans towards me and says quietly, “Neither you or he has Hep C, AIDS, or anything that should cause a problem…” and, “If there were gonna be a problem we’d probably already know… so, I think it’s okay.” So, of course, by then I was charting an upward mounting blood pressure and thinking of calling my friend Eddie, the attorney.

Well, this all settled down into a normal-type dialysis session and later Phyllis was even kidding a little, saying, “Maybe Diane and I will get suspended for a day or two… like a vacation”. As for me: I have this blog in which my life at the dialysis center is documented and although it is just my writings me thinks they may hold up in court. I have to say that Phyllis was truly upset about the mishap and it did take about the whole four hours for her to get her humor back. She apologized a number of times.

Friday afternoon: I’m still kickin’ so I guess everything is okay. I recall that it is only by the grace of god that we still exist.

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