We were trying to get me accessed. I ordinarily get accessed right after Master Pravus is done with work for the day, after the cream is done setting in. But it can be tough some nights. Master Pravus is really good at it though, and we haven’t had any trouble with it in months. I mean, no more trouble than you have sticking a 3/4″ needle in your chest. ::Shrugs:: It’s been fairly smooth. But overall, it’s still something I dread, and still something I have terrible anxiety over. Every week I have to sit through it and be “good” and every week I’m fairly good. Every now and then I panic and twitch just as the needle goes in or something, and Master Pravus reminds me that he could never take a 3/4″ long needle to the chest, that I’m brave. That I did it. That the twitch was fine. It doesn’t even ordinarily affect anything. Its hard to feel brave when I am absolutely a poor example of a soldier. I keep trying, but I hate it.
This week I didn’t actually even twitch, not for the first stick. I don’t even know what happened, but I have been having trouble maintaining my weight, and that can do it. Sometimes the port will be unstable if my weight is unstable. ::Shrugs:: But I don’t know how to solve that yet, and my weight hasn’t been stable in years. Master Pravus felt for the bumps, lined up the needle, and boink. It bounced right off. It didn’t even go in.
We were both pretty sad about it, because it meant that I would have to get another needle, and Master Pravus absolutely hates to put me through that for so many reasons. One of which being that this is already a traumatic process. I hate it. He hates it. We both hate it. Nobody likes it. The numbing cream is.. I mean it helps. But it only sort of helps. Trying to do this without the numbing cream is terrible, it’s not a painless procedure. And if we don’t get it done, I can’t drink. I mean, nothing I get in by mouth really counts. So of course there’s that stress too. And then there’s the stress put on him, as the one who has to do the thing. There’s a lot of pressure to do the thing right because he doesn’t trust any medical professional to do it.
To make matters worse, every single time he misses like this, I start having a panic attack. I know that’s not fair, but it’s also kind of not entirely my choice. I mean. I don’t sit there and decide “I’m going to have a panic attack about this.” What winds up happening is, I start thinking back to this day, and I get really quiet and despondent. I realize that there were other times in our lives when Master Pravus has missed and gotten it on the second stick. Or, there was another really terrible time shortly after our move here that I couldn’t get hooked up to fluids for an entire week. Like, a week, and during that time I didn’t blog about it because we also had no Internet. So I mean. There were definitely bad times. But the time that sticks out the most as the least humane was definitely that one I linked above. >.> And that’s where my head goes.
Master Pravus could see it in my eyes. I sat through that first one like a champ and I didn’t flinch, but it didn’t feel good. It had sort of bounced off the port. But it only bled a tiny bit, and because of the way it hit I felt more nauseated than in pain. We have a rule that we came up with on our own that we use now. If Master Pravus tries to stick me, and he fails three times in one night, then I just rest and I won’t get any more sticks that day. That’s final. No more. I was so nauseated looking though that he looked at me and asked if I wanted to try again.
“I’ll try,” I told him. But I definitely didn’t want to, and I decided to say good night to my Dragon. After all, I might not be able to if Master Pravus didn’t make the second stick. It was getting close to when he goes to bed.
To be honest, I had expected (since he was going to bed soon) not to hear from my Dragon again. I sent him a somewhat hasty good night message, and I closed my eyes while Master Pravus prepped the sterile area. I tried to focus. Master Pravus isn’t really able to talk me through these things because he has to concentrate. If he misses once, he’s in a tough spot because the area will swell making the spot even harder to find. He has to kind of ignore me, and I have to kind of do my best to ignore the stick. It’s sucky. I also have to ignore the terrible part where he’s doing his best to palpate the port while it’s swollen. No part of it is comfortable or tolerable to either one of us, really.
In the middle of draping the area, I got a message from my Dragon.
It kind of brought me out of my panic attack and reminded me that I have to fight. With my Dragon in my hand, and my Master prepping the next needle with utter concentration, I sat up a little straighter and took a deep breath. I wasn’t entirely thinking about whether or not I wanted to do it, or whether or not I could do it, or whether or not I should do it. I was just thinking.. “What is the next step?”
Sometimes when I get really, really overwhelmed Master Pravus will talk me through things in very tiny increments. I might be sitting in the tub facing despair and I will say “What do I do now?” And he will say something incredibly basic like “Let’s just start with getting your hand outside the tub, and then can you put your foot outside? Now what about your other leg? You see. You’re fine. Everything is great.” My brain went into baby steps mode when I received the message from my Dragon. Instead of thinking “I don’t think I can go through with this,” I just sat there and I thought “Okay, now what. What’s the next step from here?”
I got another message. It seemed to clear my brain a little bit. I felt like I went from “What next step is?” to “OK, This is what is normal for before the first stick. This is how I am before the first stick. I can do this. Let’s do this.”
Master Pravus cleaned the area. He constantly checked in with me. “Does this hurt, Kitty? Are you OK? I bet that stung?” Only, it didn’t sting, which was actually a bit unusual, but not unhappy. I think he was more worried about me because I wasn’t talking. I ordinarily won’t shut up, and he usually only worries (he has told me) when I’m quiet. He told me he found the dots. He lined them up, and he aimed at my port, but it didn’t work. Actually it was such a bad stick that he insisted he take the needle out before he tested. It bled too. It doesn’t usually bleed more than a drop or so if it does bleed at all. Master Pravus was not really feeling up for trying a third time, but I hadn’t had any fluids all day and we were both worried about leaving it. So he gloved up again.
The trouble is, the second stick was actually really, really awful. I mean, it was absolutely bad. Just cleaning for the third try was painful. Cleaning it shouldn’t really hurt. It’s like rubbing a cotton ball over the end of it, but it was swelling up terribly and just bad. >.<
I got a third note from my Dragon, who had gone to bed. It had gotten me out of a pretty stressed state (likely without them knowing) but also. My port was throbbing, and while I wasn’t having a panic attack I was definitely feeling flinchy and a lot less brave than I had been feeling leading up to then. That second stick really knocked my resolve around. But the rule is “Three tries,” so three tries we must do.
I sat there and tried to be good for it. Master Pravus has a special little lamp he keeps right on my port so he can see really well. Unfortunately, as he was reaching for a piece of something (I can’t remember what) from the sterile kit he accidentally hit the overhead lamp with his sterile gloves. He was about to change the gloves, but then we would have had to reclean the entire area again and I completely lost my nerve. I just couldn’t sit through it. There was no way I could do it again that night. It hurt too much. We opted to wait until the next day.
The next morning there was another note from my Dragon spurring me onwards, and while Master Pravus prepped the area I tried to focus and not go back to the dark tunnel of doom that is the worst stick day ever. I closed my eyes, Master Pravus told me he had found the access point, looked me in the eyes..
“I love you.”
And he got it. I breathed the biggest sigh of relief. That was one of the worst accesses I have been through in a while, and I almost gave up on it and didn’t even really want to try the next day. My port was hurting me the entire next day, and to be honest as I type this (a couple days after the fact) it’s still bruised from that second stick. Ordinarily that ordeal would have been so terrible for me that I would have stayed curled up on the couch for the entire day after I got accessed, unable to do much. But, I persisted. I was able to do everything I had planned on doing and more. Stopping those panic attacks in their tracks the previous night was really the biggest reason. And that was a joint effort.
I’m so, so grateful to Master Pravus for being able to get the stick in the end. And I’m so very grateful to my Dragon whose kind words helped get me through something very horrible. Yes, it was stressful. But I made it. And it’s not just that I got through it. We all three got through it together, and I’m so very honored and privileged to have both my Master and my Dragon in my life.
If you could hear me as I type, you’d hear the softest sweetest purring sound you ever could hear.