200) Annual Dallas Visit

December 26, 2007

We’re in big D visiting Liz’s mom and I am going to get my dialysis at a Davita center called “Dalla
s-East UT Southwestern Health Systems”. So I call and talk to Ed, who says I should come in between 2 and 2:30 to do some paperwork. To me, in this day of the electronic web, it seems dumb to do “paperwork” when all my records and approvals can be electronically sent from El Milagro.

UTSHS: I get to the facility, which is set up like your normal doctor’s clinic, with a waiting room of rows of chairs facing a Spanish-language channel on TV. On the left is a portal into the “treatment room” with sliding glass window, that Ed slides open to say, “Mr. Nowicki?”. I flash on the doorman from Wizard of Oz cocking his head as it pokes out the front door of the Emerald City, for some reason. “Just have a seat and we’ll call you” he continues.
I sit and read my Texas Monthly. About 30 minutes later they call me in and direct me to a chair. I look around for a little table to put my bag and coat on, but there are none, so I put the stuff on the floor next to my chair. Maybe they don’t have machine spills here that flood the floor with water. Carlos the Tech introduces himself and begins to make ready for the poking. The charge nurse, Clark, comes by with forms to sign giving them consent and signing away my ability to sue them if they screw up. This place has about 18 chairs, all organized in little nooks of chairs, rather than rows, like at El Milagro. Carlos takes my BP (113/72) and we talk a little while he deftly pokes me. I settle in to reading and observing this new place (this isn’t the facility I was in last year at the holidays).

A woman comes over, checks my approvals, my chart, and okays my Heparin. She reviews my last blood work and mentions the slightly elevated potassium and I explain my potassium blues. “It’s harder to compensate as we get older” she replies. I ask her who she is, and she replies that she is the PA from Southwestern. “Oh” I think. I had hoped for a name, not a job title. She is quite self-assured, attractive, brunette, with a pageboy cut that bounces when she walks. She looks like a “cute professional”… the look that Tina Fey has with her horn-rimmed glasses.

Sometime into the session, Clark stops by and suggests putting my feet up, since my BP is 117. “Okay” I am watching TV by now… the news. This place has a moaner somewhere behind me and to my left. I can’t see the moaner, but I do see staff making slight comments and chuckles, so it must be a nagging, bothersome moaner. This moaning goes off and on for about half the time I am in the chair. It doesn’t bother me… just reminds me of the old days at El Milagro, with the woman who says “help”.

I observe Carlos’ goings back and forth, since he is closest to my chair. He spends time talking to the patient across the way, leaning close to her and listening to her. He jokes with the other staff and generally has a good, positive attitude. I tell him about this blog and by the end of the session I feel close to him, which is surprising for one foreign session. My standing is 103/__, so I sit for awhile and then it is 115/65 and I am outa there, into the dark, cold night… and back to my vacation. The Dallas Dialysis is over for this year.

I drive back around the dark and shiny waters of White Rock Lake, thinking about the experience of going to a new dialysis center and how just one staff there can make me feel like it is a place that will take good care of me. I have heard so many bad stories about visiting centers, that I am usually a bit nervous about being in a new center, and when there is just one staff there that I feel a connection to, then it allays all those fears. Thanks to Carlos the Tech, this dialysis session is considered "safe" and "okay" in my little brain.

Notes: In at 77.4 and out at 74.9 kg.s
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Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about your dialysis adventures very much, and so glad I stumbled upon your blog in cyberspace. It's nice to hear positive comments from a patient's point of view. Having to be on dialysis is difficult even under the best circumstances and I appreciate your willingness to share your experience. I used to work at El Milagro and it really is a special place. Please say hi to Rosie and Phyllis for me! Happy New Year and best wishes to you.

Tracy Phillips, RN, CNN

Jack Nowicki said...

thanks for the feedback, Tracy. I'll say "Hi" to Rosie for you. Phyllis has flown north, so who knows when I'll see her again. JN