So here's how things went on Monday...
They told us they'd do a CT-guided needle biopsy. Meanwhile, Dr. Gosewehr, Penny's oncologist, scheduled a preliminary appointment with us for Monday at noon.
Naturally this conflicted, and rather than fight about it, I told both Dr. Liu's schedulers, and Dr. Gosewehr's schedulers, that they needed to resolve the issue.
So, I got a call that they wanted us to do the biopsy first, then they'd fit us in with Dr. Gosewehr after.
Meanwhile, Dr. Liu, who is THE guy at Providence who treats cancers in the liver, decided that no, they would do a catheter biopsy, just to make sure there would be no bleeding whatsoever.
So we get to the hospital, checkin at 12:30, get into the short-stay, and (because they don't staff enough people) instead of an hour, it takes two hours to get her all ready. Part of this is getting her onto the bed - because with the mattress platform lowered all the way, it's taller than the one we had on Wednesday last, she would have to climb or hop to get onto it. Hospitals need to re-think this whole 'bed height' thing. I help Penny get up, and the nurse helps us slide her onto it, and eventually, all is done and she's regaining her breath on the bed. They dink around a long time doing vitals and such, and then putting in the spigot for the IV.
At 2:30 they come and take us upstairs, and there's a waiting room - I don't get to help Penny move onto the table at all, as I wasn't sterile. Instead, I went to the cafeteria, where the food prep area was closed, so I got to eat a really expensive salad. This takes up about a half hour.
Back to the waiting area, sit for about 20 minutes (not wanting to sit next to the weird barking kid and his grandmother who are at the television) and a nurse-type in scrubs comes in and tells me that they have done the work and everything came through fine, and now they're waiting for the pathology lab to respond with a 'good sample' so they can complete the procedure and get Penny into the short-stay room for observation.
It's about 3:30, at this time. At 4:30 Dr. Liu comes out and tells me that they're still waiting, so I call Dr. Gosewehr's office and tell them the situation, and ask if Dr. Gosewehr can possibly, like, come to the Short Stay area to examine Penny?
No, he can't do that. Apparently there's stuff he has to do in his office. They schedule us for 3:15 tuesday, I howl "Can you at least not break my work day up dead in the middle?" and they say "OK, 5:30 or 8:15, which?"
I say "8:15, she's usually got much more mobility in the morning."
All that done, I enter it in my palm and go back to waiting.
So, nobody shows up or phones and it's 5pm... the volunteers go home. There is no-one to answer phones. At 5:15, I get peeved, and call Short Stay. They tell me she isn't there (they are lying) and as 5:30 approaches, I go down to the short-stay receptionist and ask her, "Shall I just camp here until my wife is brought down, or will you find out where she is?"
In a truly bitchy voice, she directs me to Surgery Prep. (I will remember this woman. If she does this again, I will complain to the hospital.)
In Surgery Prep Waiting Area, the woman checks, sees an urgent message has been registered with the upstairs waiting area to send me down to room 34, and so I go back, get to the room, and find that Penny has been there for a half-hour.
Penny croaks a greeting at me (she's been given a bottle of Sprite to offset the dry-mouth she has had all day) and we relax while they take her vital signs, necessary before discharge. Then they change nurses (!) and we watch Judge Judy for an hour while the new nurse goes through her entire roster of patients before coming in to see Penny. This is OK, sorta, because Penny needed to be observed for an hour to make sure that the hole in her jugular has been closed properly and that she's well enough to be discharged.
Incidentally, the bed is a 'bariatric' bed and includes a special scale... which seems to be claiming, if it was properly zeroed, that Penny has lost 30 pounds in the last approximately one month. NOT a good thing to lose that fast.
So, finally they come in. There is much fussing as the nurse takes a final set of vital signs and slowly gets around to taking out the IV thing. We are annoyed to find that they won't use the proper non-adhesive tape, but the stuff they use doesn't leave as much of a welt as the usual plastic tape you get if you don't ask for something else. So, eventually, the nurse asks if we can just take Penny down off the bed, and between us we say, "No, use the nifty lifty thing please." They come in with a blue 'sling' which fits behind her back and below her thighs, hooks onto a special hoist, and then raises her off the bed.
"I'm the naughty Mary Poppins!" Penny chirps, sending the nurses into giggles, and we lower her onto her chair, with her dress around her and such, and we're escorted to the front, where the nurse who operated the lift waits until we're in the car before she goes inside. We could have taken the blue lifty thing with us, but decide not to hassle with it.
Penny gets into the car, slowly because her knees are weak and she's kind of stiff from the table. We get home, and she tells me her leg is asleep, so we wait a minute for it to come back and then I lift her... she's holding on the car door, but as she tries to get into the chair her right leg gives way and she goes down halfway onto the asphalt. Immediately, the screams of pain bring people from nearby apartments, who try to help but are too small. Penny's yelling at me to call 911, I'm saying, "We need to get you off that knee first," and after a bit, we get her onto the ground and then onto her back, and then get blankets on her. One of the kids from the apartment above us is moving out; he was the one trying to help, so he calls 911, and after about 15 minutes a fire truck arrives, fresh from a fire, and six guys who look like the 'Hunks of Hillsboro Fire District 89" come over (seriously, they came straight from central casting) and get her onto a lifting cloth, put her onto her chair, we get her into the house, and then they help her to her feet with her walker - and as soon as she tries to move, she goes down again. They get her up again and onto the bed (which still has the smell of smoked fire-fighter on my side) and head off into the night; Penny, safely in bed, goes into shocky sleep. I clean up her knees, put on neosporin and some bandages, and she wakes up enough to insist on changing to her nightgown. So, we do that, and she goes back to sleep after drinking a bit of ensure.
Yesterday, I call in the morning really early, tell them we're not going to get there, please call back. At 9am, nobody has called, so I call again, and this time the doctor wants to talk to me directly, so they transfer me to him, he pushes the wrong button, and I am disconnected, so I call AGAIN, and they do it right. He agrees that she should rest a while, tells us they won't have results until Thursday anyway, and that we should call on Thursday and he'll discuss the findings and what their treatment plan will be.
And today, we got the news: The liver biopsy samples, taken from the lesions in her liver, are NOT cancerous. It's all liver tissue, and it's unhappy because of a blocked common bile duct.
The common bile duct that was damaged by the idiot doctor who scarred up the underside of her liver, when he did a laparascopic procedure with a too-short tube, and too-short tools, and he ended up cutting things in a very sloppy fashion.
There will be another biopsy, this one (probably) a needle biopsy, ultrasound-guided, but they haven't said what or why. It may have something to do with the mass they saw near her intestines, which could well be one or both ovaries, which were not removed during her hysterectomy because they were on walkabout. (Possibly ALSO caused by the laparascopic mess.)
So... we are rejoicing that it is not cancer. We are hoping that the next thing is also not cancer. And, we're looking forward to finding out just how they plan to treat this very debilitating thing that's going on.