Johns Hopkins Cancer Ward — Not the New Year’s Party Place We’d Expected
It seemed like a good idea at the time. The unpredictable street corners of Baltimore. The crazy purple and yellow and orange colors of the walls at Johns Hopkins. Dena and I alone in a room with a view. We even brought some illegal fireworks to let off in the nurse’s station (after thoroughly washing our hands of course). It just all seemed to come together as a hell of a way to spend New Year’s Day — at Johns Hopkins Hospital!
It wasn’t as good an idea as we thought. A few lessons learned:
- You are required to remove your crazy holiday-themed tie and all your bling and replace it with a faded aqua-blue ass-out gown that comes to your knees.
- Nurses not only frown upon lit explosives in the hallway, they literally freak out when you set one off.
- All that champagne? Confiscated.
- Cats are forbidden from juggling — either juggling themselves are being juggled by others.
- Not as much privacy as you would have thought at a top-rated institution.. The Marriott on the bay may have been a better choice in this regard.
- Separate beds. (What is this — the Dick Van Dyke show?)
- Three words: No Funny Hats. Not even one of those pointless blue We’re No. 1 gloves that everybody gets to wear in Times Square.
- People stick you with sharp pointy things. (Rude.)
- On the upside, there’s a steady supply of drugs and painkillers, and we did see a clown. (Two, actually. Male and female. Whether they were in a consensual relationship remains unclear.)
So, yes, Dena and I regret our decision to celebrate New Year’s at the hospital. As cool as it seemed at the time, the environment is a little more sterile and restrictive than you’ll find at Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Not a drop of confetti where we were.
Besides the potential for some serious partying, another reason we ended up at Johns Hopkins is that for the last several days my breathing was getting more and more labored aand I was coughing up more congestive sputum, some pink. I’d also begun experiencing pains in my side. Dr. Hammers was alarmed by this and suggested I come in.
The CT scan of my chest showed additional “ground glass opacity” in my lungs compared to the scan we’d done just a week before. The doctors aren’t entirely sure what to make of it. All of them immediately assumed it was Dena sprinkling said ground glass in my oatmeal; however, she had a solid alibi in trying to reign in Josie each morning. So the doctors went back to the drawing board and came up with three other potential answers:
- A worsening of the lung infection from the pneumonia. However, the doctors seem skeptical that this is the cause.
- A growth in the bronchial airways, similar to what happened back in August when they performed a bronchoscopy and found a tumor growth blocking most of my left bronchus.
- Inflammation in the lungs, a potential result of hemorrhaging from growing tumors that are damaging the lung tissue.
Tomorrow morning we undergo another bronchoscopy to try to get some answers. The pulmonologist will search for any growths in the airways (and burn them out if found) and we’ll take a biopsy of lung tissue to try to figure out if the areas showing up opaque on the CT scans are either due to infection or inflammation.
Whichever of the three turn out to be the culprit will each require quite different approaches in treatment, some more difficult than others. For now, we need to simply to wait and see what the bronchoscopy shows before making any decisions. Well, decisions about treatment options, that is. In the meantime, Dena and I are going to doubledown on our efforts to come up with new solutions for turning this place into Party Central for New Years 2013! Dena brought out her Banaanagrams game — with all its game tiles held in a cute little hollowed-out cloth banana. Look out, things could get crazy in Baltimore!