Short intro about the blog

This blog is about our journey to healing with Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma

Friday, July 6, 2012

Two Trips to Charlottesville - Part 1

After driving the nearly 2 ½ hours to Charlottesville twice in one week, I was looking forward to a 2-week break before having to go down again for Calum to have his pins removed.  No such luck.  Last Friday morning, Calum woke up very early which is extremely uncharacteristic for him.  He was complaining that his arm REALLY hurt and it felt like someone was stabbing him in the arm.  Because Calum is Calum, I didn’t take it too seriously.  He spent the rest of the day watching his beloved Pokemon cartoons and relaxing on the sofa.  He kept complaining about his arm, and the Tylenol wasn’t cutting it.  I called the doctors office in Charlottesville, and spoke to the nurse.  She suggested I try cycling Tylenol and Advil a bit more frequently and to call her again before 5:00pm.  By 4:00pm, he had had two cycles of pain relief, and he was still complaining about the pain.  At two weeks out from injury, he shouldn’t be feeling pain, so the nurse suspected he might have an infection.  She told me it meant we would have to go to the ER, and that she would call over to UVA to let Dr. Romness know I was coming.  “Oh, no no no no no!  That’s okay!  We’ll just go to our own ER here in Winchester”, I said.  There was an extended moment of silence before the nurse said, “Um… I’m sorry to tell you this, but they won’t treat him there.  You see, the surgery was done down here, and they don’t like to mess with other doctors’ work.”  I didn’t believe her, so I called Winchester myself.  Darn it, she was right.  They wouldn’t see him.  We were off to Charlottesville… AGAIN.

By this time, it was after 5:00pm, so there was a bit of a scramble to get packed and try to get down there as early as possible.  My sister came over to pick up Ali and Finlay for the night, and I ran around gathering medical supplies and packing food.  Dinner that night consisted of cheese sticks, peanuts and baby carrots.  We piled all our bags into the car, buckled Calum in and headed southward.  As soon as we registered, the same friendly nurse we had two weeks before came out to get Calum.  She recognized his name, and decided to help us jump the queue by bringing Calum straight back to a room in the children’s ER  We chatted about how ridiculous it was that we had to keep coming back to Charlottesville, and the ER doctor showed up to give Calum a once-over.  Calum was sent for X-rays and we waited for one of the orthopedic doctors to get a look at them and come tell us the verdict.  The bone looked great on the x-ray and there was no sign that anything was amiss.  The ortho poked and prodded Calum’s arm, and said if there was any infection we would be peeling him off the ceiling, so everything looked good.  No one really knew why Calum was in pain, but there were a couple of theories.  Perhaps it was the nerve healing, since that can cause stabbing pains.  Later our chiropractor explained it could have been a blood clot that worked its way out by the time we got down there.  Either way, Calum was declared fine and healthy, and at 12:30am we were free to go.

Meanwhile, the storm of the decade had blown through several states, killed nearly 2 dozen people and left millions without power.  We had no idea.  The ER is like a tomb, with no windows or views of the outside.  The lights flickered a couple of times, but we didn’t think much about it.  As we were leaving, there were ambulances and police cars everywhere.  Half of Charlottesville had lost power.  There were massive trees blocking lanes all the way home.  It was unbelievable.  And I can’t believe we missed it!

Our original plan, before we even left Berryville, was to get a hotel in Charlottesville for the night so I wouldn’t have to drive back in the early hours of the morning.  About halfway down 81 South, Adam suddenly shouts, “The charger!”  We had forgotten the charger for the pump.  That meant we had enough power for his midnight and 4:00am infusions, but that would be it.  We couldn’t get a hotel because his pump would die before we could get home, and that would mean missing an infusion even though we had enough medicine bags to last us 2 days.  I drank my first cup of coffee in 6 months and drove from 12:30am to 3:00am to get us home.  We pulled up to the house, and something didn’t look right.  It was dark.  Too dark.  Oh… my… gosh.  The power is out.  We drove all the way home to get Adam’s charger, and we had no power to charge it anyway.  Son of a… gun.  We staggered in with all the bags, and collapsed into bed.  I set the alarm for 7:00am and prayed that the power would come back on before morning.  It did!  It came on at exactly 6:50am, and by 8:00am Adam was hooked up with new bags and marooned on the sofa with his pump plugged in.  And there he sat all morning, except for twice-hourly trips to the toilet.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to go anywhere that day, so after I picked up Ali and Finlay we just crashed on the sofa and watched movies.  It had been another adventurous end of the week for the McArthur household!

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