Tag Archives: UCSF

Getting to chemotherapy and even starting it

My experience of being lied to between long waits and gratuitous hair-pullings continued at UCSF. First ,an hour in the very cold waiting room with a tv that no one looked at. Then I was stored a hallway in a line of gurneys for five and a half hours. The major difference is that I eventually was admitted and placed in   a very nice room with a bit of a view and much better food — with choices! Not like high school cafeteria food like at SFGH. (Weren’t there at least alternative entrées wtih them?)

I had more problems with Filipino night nurses, this time a man-hating lesbian Fiipina. She was one of those who violated my doctor’s order to shave anywhere tape would be applied. (I complained after failiing to deter her with  reference to the doctor’s order.)

The real drama began when my condom catheter fell off my shriveled penis. The mess was mechanical (fallen-off condom), not me knowing I was peeing. I had come to take direct drainage for granted.

I was absorbed in watching what I thought was the last half hour, but turned out to be the last hour  of the 1958 “A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She was annoyed that I had not called her, although I was the one in a wet gown in a wet bed, and chose to finish the movie rather than get into the chaos of changing bed and gowns. I don’t remember what she said that led me to remark that I could still urinate for an hour and preferred being wet to distracting from the fist thing on IV I watched. .

Anyway, she unleashed a tirade about my being sarcastic though she and everyone else was working to make my  hospital stay as good as it could be, to which I only returned sarcasm. I will stipulate to being sarcastic, though most people here and in general understand and appreciate my  wry sense of humor.

She overplayed by claiming that everyone had been kind, not hurtful ,to me. The first bow in my quiver was her not bothering to shave before taping (about which I complained at the time). Even leaving aside the rage at SFGH malpractice (the blood thinner when a biopsy had been postponed and another one scheduled), there were all the lies told to me in the ER corridor, and more that I have mercifully forgotten). I said that I appreciated that staff were trying to help with my cancer and said that I would try to hold in my rage that was fired to a considerable degree by events preceding my arrival on the 11th floor of Long Hospital. ( know that what is visible is only the tip of the iceberg of my rage.)

BTW, my “man-hater” characterizaion is mostly based on her very visible repugnance at having to handle a penis (or at least my shriveled one). It is definitely difficult to put  a hard-shell condom on a shrunken penis. She repeatedly asked me to do it, though I couldn’t see what I was trying to do.

Finally, she got it on, and then  when she was upbraiding me for not calling for immediately  (which would have involvedcalling down the distracting chaos of changing my gowns and making up the room during the only thing I watched on tv), the crusader against sarcasm asked if I wanted her to take it off, when I said I could pee for the duration of the rest of the movie. I was the one with a damp gown and sheets,  and the urine was not yet toxic with chemotherapy drugs. The secondary gain of the not having to get up during the night was definitely positive enough to make up for the suffering of getting it on four separate times, so I definitely did not want what had been put on with considerable effort and discomfort removed.

BTW, my next night nurse (CHeryl?)was also Filipina, as well as being amiable and helpful — and seemed to enjoy my sense of humor.

I really like my oncologist, Ted Martin, and my day nurse, Craig. Both have been patient in explaining things to me (and those visiting me in the hospital),

By the time I started chemo 6PM Thursday), I felt tired and that I could take a nap.

The new condom catheter worked, and the dosage of sleeping pills worked, too, so on chemo I had the best night’s sleep in months, not having to wake up to piss every hour. Alas, there was a “watcher” chatting on his cellphone who woke me up). Today I have been peeing in the plastic urinal. I am not supposed to get out of bed without an attendant, but I can sit up and learned how to piss lying down at SFGH.


St. Stephen ofUCSF.JPG

(St. Stephen of Paranassus Heights with infusion bags).

Though I have (so far) felt good, with lessened back pain (a separate track!), my glucose soared, pulse and blood pressure increased (the former from having steroids pumped into my blood). The master line (peripherally inserted central catheter), which is infusing me with eight drugs (including an anti-nausea one, is now the only one after a day and a half of saline, and infusions of magnesium.)

A cardiologist resident came to talk to me this afternoon then returned with the cardiologist. He had no strong guesses about the causes of my passing out. He said that if I had another one he hoped it would be in the hospital, quacking reacting to my facial response “If you have another one”). Then he rhetorically said he didn’t know anything. I fired back to disprove that with the two questions I am asked many times a day: “What is your full name? What is your date of birth?” I delivered the results of the test, which had showed he knows some things, including to the answers to the most frequent questions here. (I doubt he encounters the questions off and not in the imperious medical personnel tone.)

He was a bit flummoxed and the resident said she thought she had introduced him to me, which she had. I made that clear. The cardiologist by then understanding the unusual (mini-) interrogation said that it was the best thing that he had experienced that day.

I was more a breaching exercise than sarcasm, though it reminded me that satire is frequently not recognized (or not recognized immediately).

Then I had a very nice shower, doing my calf-stretching exercises while hot water was massaging my back. Craig was off looking for my razor and shaving gel. I had dried my top half but got back in the shower for the shaving. When I got out again, dried off and with great difficulty getting into drawstring pants that I cannot get to stay tight, so they fall down before a single stop with considerable difficulty. I should have asked for help. The disaster was not me falling again (which I didn’t even dancing into the pants), but the line dripping toxic chemo treatments falling as I started to maneuver the pole out of the bathroom.

It was dripping the toxic chemicals that are going into me, which led to a major masked and gowned cleanup, a new pole, and temporarily interfered with Craig’s good mood, though he assured me it was not my fault that the line fell out, but I should call immediately if it happened again. I think that by the end of regowning me and supervising the clean up his natural ebullience had risen over his annoyance.


(between hospitalizations, 13 days from diagnosis to treatment  of “aggressive canser” commencing—muscles shrunken, protease paunch still there).

Monday I also got the bone-marrotw biopsy (with no advance notice that one was going to be done; given its bad rap that was probably good. The onlt pain was the local anesthetic though I felt the often reported twinge down the calf during the procedure). She was able to get a goods sample both of bone and marow, though the bone was vary hard, digging the bone hard, which except for bone marrow biopsies is good.

And I am getting a carbohydrate menu, having had the regular and cardiac one.s I think I’ll have more choices, but a ceiling of 81 carbs.

My account of my previous adventure is here.

©2018, Stephen O. Murray