by Peter Freyne
Quick! Guess what that's a photo of at right?
A. Burlington International Airport.
B. Richie Tarrant's Florida home.
C. Fletcher Allen Health Care.
Looks like an airport, doesn't it? How about calling it "Boettcher Field" in honor of the two-year federal jail sentence FAHC's former CEO Bill Boettcher got for building it?
In fact, that's what the folks who work there commonly call it - "The Airport!"
Actually, it is the dazzling lobby of the new $300 million-plus Renaissance Center atop Hospital Hill. Like an airport, the Renaissance Center was designed to get people in-and-out as quickly as possible. Efficiency counts.
So I'm in the recliner last Friday afternoon in the RENAISSANCE outpatient chemo center up on Hospital Hill - the Hematology -Oncology Unit - and about every 30 minutes the nurse is cranking up the concentration of Rituxan, the first of four "wonder" drugs dripping into the IV that's plugged into the vein on my right forearm.
After a little over two hours with the rate cranked up from 50 cc's an hour to something like 350 cc's and hour, they say I sort of lost it. Had some kind of "seizure," and the proof, says the doctor and nurse who were there, is the fact I could not, when asked, name the current president of the United States.
Howard Brush Dean?
They immediately halted the R-CHOP chemotherapy on Friday and sent me for a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the Freyne brain and ordered up a Spinal Tap on Saturday.
The MRI, says the Doc, came back negative for any indications of lymphoma.
Likewise, the first checks on my spinal fluid, tapped on Saturday (left) by Sadie Mills M.D., a Mary Fanny resident, Woodstock, Vermont native and graduate of both UVM and the UVM College of Medicine. I think I was Sadie's second spinal tap. An honor and a privilege!
Marc Greenblatt M.D., the attending, snapped this nice photo of the columnist/ bloggers' spine actually being tapped on Saturday. It was at our request. They don't provide this kind of "journalistic" service for all their patients.
Besides, it's only a very long, sharp needle.
I was told before being released from FAHC this afternoon that the first tests showed no evidence cancer cells have spread into the columnist's spinal chord and nervous system. Further tests, however, will be conducted, I'm told, to be absolutely sure.
The FAHC docs have also written me a prescription for anti-seizure medication. Apparently they do not consider my presidential memory lapse could possibly have been related to the Rituxan dose they were pumping into me?
Hey, I'm a sensitive guy. Really.
Anyway, the plan is to finish the 2nd chemo treatment sometime this week and get back on schedule.
Here's a shot of what it looked like at the foot of my hospital bed today before being released. There's Marc Greenblatt M.D., the attending and Saturday's spinal-tap photographer on the left, Kim Dittus M.D. a FAHC "fellow" (which means she packs a Ph.d in addition to an M.D.), and first-year resident David Greenberg M.D., graduate of Tufts School of Medicine.
Look like they know what they're doing, eh?
Well, sort of? The white coats do it.
Also, calls, cards, notes and letters of encouragement continue to arrive from strangers, friends and folks we did not actually think were "friends."
It's been a pleasant education and reminder - we are all in this together, dear sisters and brothers. One family.