Dawna Austin
Well, it's certainly been an interesting 24 hours.   I will try to recall as much detail as possible.

We were taken from our hotel to the clinic/hospital at around 8am on May 20th.  Once we arrived, we had quite a bit of paperwork to fill out, authorizations to sign etc.   It was correct when other people who have had the procedure, have noted that none of the nurses spoke English.  This certainly proved to be quite a challenge!   I had a sheet of common phrases used in the hospital which were translated, which helped a bit, but we did run into situations where we were unable to explain our needs to the nurses.   We were given blood tests and in IV inserted into the arm and then assigned a bed.  I was in a room with two other women.  We were given gowns to wear -- opening at the front, the only thing of ours allowed to wear was socks (oh joy).    We were then each given catheters (yes, more JOY) .. and I was the first in our group to be taken into the procedure room.   They have you lay on a VERY narrow table (much more narrow than Canadian operating tables) and the anesthetic was given.  I asked why the room was spinning and how I was dizzy.  It was then told that it was an anesthetic.  They hadn't warned me that they were giving me anything.  Oddly enough, it's just the way it is here -- they do things without telling you.    No one spoke to me during the procedure, which I found to be quite odd, all that they said was "we are done" and the doctor left the room.  Many of us found this lack of communication with the patients quite frustrating.  I found out later that they ballooned my left jugular vein, but nothing on the right, and no stents were placed because (1) I was young and therefore stronger ?? (did anyone look at the year I was born? sweet of them to say .. but "young"? hehehe)  and (2) that with the size of my veins they would have had to use the largest stent and they didn't feel comfortable with that.   The only reason I even found out that information is because Kirk insisted he talk to a doctor about what had happened, as no information was being given to us post-procedure.  

As I was laying in the bed in my room, the pain in my groin at the site of incision was becoming more painful.  What they do post-procedure is wrap your mid section like mummy, and underneat that gauze at the incision site, is a large cloth (so to speak) to create a pressure point on the site to stop bleeding.  Because the nurses couldn't speak English, when I asked them about the pain (pointing to my incision), they would just check for blood and press down on the gauze, which for me only made the pain worse.   For the next hour the pain increased to the point I thought if I kept this up much longer I'd either have to break down and cry (which I later did) or pass out.   Finally, thanks to the mom of another patient who spoke Polish, she advocated for me with the nurse, explaining that this wasn't just regular pain, that this was severe.  She finally got the message, and moved the dressing over a bit, moving the pressure point which they have there to stop the bleeding. The pain stopped immediately.  They said that it must have been situated on a nerve or something.   They really need to have an english translator working there!

We weren't informed that there was a call bell for the nurse until later that evening.  It was strange, because we all laid on our beds, unable to get up (you weren't allowed to move for hours after) .. our door was closed and we were wondering how we would be able to call for help if needed, if the nurses were unable to hear us.  Knowing where the call bells were (or that they even existed) would have been helpful to know at the beginning.

Finally by evening we were allowed to eat a meal, and it was definitely interesting, but was grateful for food!  We had some good laughs together and with the visitors that came in. I told Kirk to just stay at the hotel and relax and I would see him in the morning.  So, who knows what he did while I was gone! :)

This morning the nurse came in to the gal across from me, did something and the patient said.. did she just stick me with something?  I turned to see her heading to the next patient and yes, indeed, sticking a needle into her stomach, no words uttered.. then she came over to me and yes, she lifts up  your gown, pinches some skin of your stomach and sticks a needle in.  No warning or explanation of what they are about to do, or what they are doing.  It is all very strange.

I just realize now that I had wanted to take a photo of our room, but I forgot .. many things you forget to do.   I did take a picture of a helicopter outside our room.. strange how they placed a helicopter in a little park behind the building.

Arriving back at the hotel the next morning at 8am, we had breakfast at the hotel and again sat around with the other couples who are involved in being treated here as well.  We were all told that we needed medication after.   For those of us without stents, it's a 7  day medication.  For those with stents, it is a LOT more involved.  We all headed together to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled.  Shock of all shocks, it turns out that it's 7 days of SHOTS.. yes NEEDLES!  We all know how well I do with that. How am I supposed to stick myself in the stomach with a needle? I'm still trying to figure that one out.  Another huge mis-communication over here.  It should be something explained to the patient before they leave the hospital. 

Kirk & went to the local mall by taxi to exchange something we had bought earlier, but about 30 minutes in of walking around, I started to have pain in my groin area so walking was very difficult.   It's funny how taxis work here.. you end up having to barter your fare before you get in.  All very different!  We took a taxi back and that brings me to here, writing this.  I forced Kirk to go down to the gym to exercise and get his body working.  This jet lag is really hard to get used to.  Even though Kirk was at the hotel last night and I at the hospital, we both woke up at 3am, unable to sleep  until around 4am.  We aren't looking forward to readjusting to BC time, esp. since Kirk has to work the day following our arrival back home.

Oh, I guess I should discuss what I feel post-procedure.   There really isn't much to tell yet.  One thing is that my hands and feet are warm when they normally were always cold. They are so warm that sometimes Kirk says that they are actually hot!  This certainly is  a strange feeling for me.  Other than that, I don't really feel different.  People that I have met here have said that I have color in my face today, where when they met me I looked gaunt and pale.. I guess that is good!    I still have numbness in my leg and hands, so we'll see if that is something that goes away in time.  It is a waiting game I guess.  One fellow here said he always could feel/hear his heartbeat in this ears, and now that is gone.  So it seems each person has their own story with how they feel different.  The doctors say that 30-50% of people seem to restenose .. so let's just hope that I'm not one of those. But even if I am, if that is something that you have to consider as a regular treatment to feel better... let it be so (just hopefully in Vancouver by then!). They do want us to come back in 6 months for a checkup .. just not sure how or if that would work.  Financially, this is a HUGE venture and not an easy one.

Thank you all for your support and your prayers!  Hopefully tomorrow if I feel good enough we can go and see Auschwitz. It has been raining so much here, that Auschwitz was closed for awhile due to flooding, but they say it has opened again.  However, it is raining a lot again today, so we will have to see what tomorrow brings.

Dawna
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