Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hardy Gets to Practive Correct Service Dog Behavior at the Hospital

Yesterday morning, I took Hardy with me to the Cleveland Clinic Pain Center for a routine pump refill at 8:30 am. I have an intrathecal pump implanted which sends Baclofen (an antispasticity medication) right into my spinal column. Every six weeks or so, I go in so that they can put more Baclofen into the pump using a syringe and needle through the pump's port. Usually, the refill goes perfectly fine - there's one stick, the needle ends up in the port and there's no problem getting the medication into the pump. Finding the port in mine tends to be more difficult since it's my second pump so there's lots of scar tissue. As a result, it's hard to feel the borders of the pump which is necessary in order to locate the relatively small port entry so occasionally, there's a minor problem when the nurse has difficulty getting the needle into the port resulting in multiple needle sticks.
I've had a pump now for at least 10 years and yesterday something unique happened. The nurse thought she had gotten the needle into the port and began injecting the Baclofen. After putting in a couple cc's, she became concerned about the location of the needle. She went to find out whether we could use the fluoroscope (like an x-ray machine). We moved into the surgical suite to use the machine and discovered that the needle was not in the port and in fact, the pump was oriented pretty much opposite of what we had thought. My nurse withdrew the needle and using a new one, got it right into the pump. 
After completing the refill, she contacted my doctor regarding the medication that she inadvertently injected subcutaneously. The concern was how concentrated the medicine was and what the effect would be as I absorbed it. Baclofen is a drug that can be dangerous if you get too much of it or stop taking it suddenly - you need to taper the amount going up or down. Since no one knew how quickly I was going to absorb it and one possible effect of an overdose is death, my doctor decided that I should stay in the hospital overnight. 
I had to spend time in the surgical recovery at the Pain Center while they found me a hospital room. My refill nurse asked whether Hardy could stay with me and the recovery room nurses set me up in a cubical at one end of the room so that he could. 
Hardy watching in the recovery room

And Hardy sleeping there

They found a room for me at about 11:00 am but that didn't hurry anything along and the Pain Clinic people didn't want my husband, Brent, to drive me over to the hospital in our van so at about 1:00, I asked him to take Hardy home so that he and Laurel could have lunch and Brent could get some things done before bringing me back some clothes, my meds, my bi-pap machine etc. Although the Pain Clinic seemed to think that I needed a medical person at all times, at about 3:00, they loaded me up into a Cleveland Clinic shuttle van (without a medical person) and sent me over to the hospital. Once we got there, I was on my own to get up to my hospital room - I must admit that I was sorely tempted to call Brent and ask him to pick me up at the hospital doors. Instead I found my way up to M77- bed 1 where I got admitted and finally had something to eat. At about 5:00, Brent brought Hardy back to visit in my hospital room. Laurel has stayed overnight in the hospital with me so I thought Hardy could benefit from the experience. Brent brought a mat and after asking the floor nurse for permission, we let him up on his mat on my bed. He was very good and all the nurses and some doctors who stopped by asked before they visited with him. 
My roommate was there for a pain pump trial and was just amazed at all the things Hardy and Laurel do for me. She has a black Lab at home and was very hopeful that she might learn to do some things to help her at home. Although she doesn't live anywhere near me, a friend of mine is a trainer near her so I will put them in touch when the time is right. She was very sweet and told me that I was there for the night so that she could meet me and feel hopeful about her future! That made an annoying event seem much more positive for me too!
I sent Brent and Hardy home at about 9:30 pm. Hardy could have stayed the night but I wasn't up to taking him out so I thought he'd be better off at home. I came home at about 12:00 today - which is Brent's and my 32nd Anniversary! 
Hardy visiting in my hospital room

Hardy visiting me on his mat on my bed

Hardy visiting me in bed at the hospital

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