Tonight, I went to clean and apply a new bandage to my hickman catheter. It was then I noticed several strange objects inside the line itself. They looked like a sort of gelatinous milky white mass. This is the first time I had ever seen something like this in two years of having this port. I had absolutely no idea what it could have been, the only thing that had gone in my port for going on two months now was saline. So of course, I did the logical thing. I went to the hospital. I am somewhere between utterly enraged and highly amused. Hopefully this story comes off as amusing, because thats why I’m writing it.
We (my father and I) arrive at the hospital near 11:30pm. Thankfully it was quiet so I was admitted as soon as we walked in.
The admitting nurse was highly confused. He shrugged and sent me through to a room.
The ER nurse, a very kind woman who seemed to enjoy my snarkcasm, was highly confused. “Only saline has gone in? What on earth could it be? Saline doesn’t leave deposits!” (Note to the confused, snarkcasm is my word for the fabulous mixture of sarcasm and snark that frequents my conversation.)
Very true, nurse. Very true. She then informed me that I was lucky. Tonight, my doctor would be a man who was both ER doctor and surgeon. A surgeon. Oh joy.
After quickly inspecting my line, she left to fetch the doctor. We will call him Dr. Bigfoot. Why? Because his 11’oclock shadow covered nearly his entire face. (Normally I’m not superficial and wouldn’t make rude comments, but I’m not overly fond of this man.)
Now, Dr. Bigfoot inspected my line. He squeezed it. He poked it. He hummed and harrumphed. And then began one of the most annoying conversations I’ve ever had.
“Just saline has gone in? There shouldn’t be anything there then, saline doesn’t leave deposits.” He harrumphed as he continued to poke at the line.
“Yes, I know. That’s why its strange.” I was still smiling at this point, foolishly hopeful.
“Its not on the outside of the line?” He queered, while still poking at the line and the object that was clearly not on the outside.
“No. Inside. Weird, huh?” I laughed. Apparently, laughter annoys the bigfoot.
“I’m not entirely sure that something is there.”
“What do you mean? You can see the objects.” All four of us could see the objects. The nurse looked confused. We all were.
“The only thing that’s gone in the line for two months is saline?”
“…Yes.” Oh my god
“Saline doesn’t leave anything. There shouldn’t be anything in the line.”
“…And yet there is.” My smile had now become forced.
“I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s an air pocket.”
“It’s not an air pocket.” ITS NOT AN AIR POCKET
“It might be an air pocket.”
“I…it’s…but…” KILL ME NOW
“Let’s pull it, and see.” He waves me off and goes to get a nurse. The nurse came back in and attached a syringe to attempt to pull blood out and flush the objects out. The nurse saw the objects. The nurse knew they were not air pockets. She seemed a bit apologetic as she and I tried to get blood flow. My port doesn’t actually like allowing blood output, and usually I have to bend literally upside down and backwards for anything to come out. This time, nothing at all came out. It did however, pull saline that was in the rest of the line up through it.
And before our eyes, the saline dissolved the strange objects.
Dr. Bigfoot came back in. “How did the pulling go?”
“Well, no blood came out, but the objects are gone.”
And this is where it gets good.
“Objects?” He repeated, as if this were new information. He started his poking and harrumphing again. “Only saline has gone in? You’re sure?”
“Yes. For two months now.” God where are you going with this
“So there shouldn’t be anything in the line. Nothing is in the line.”
“W…what? It dissolved in the saline, its not there anymore but-”
“I’m not sure there ever was anything. If there was, it was an air pocket.”
“It definitely was not an air pocket. This here, that’s a tiny air pocket. Those were not, they looked gelatinous.” I hate hospitals, I hate surgeons, I hate you oh my god
“It’s irrelevant. Nothing is there.”
“But there was. You spent nearly half an hour poking and prodding at them.”
“I’m not sure. I don’t think so. Saline doesn’t leave deposits. Only saline has gone in, yes?”
“I know saline doesn’t leave deposits.”
“So you agree, there was nothing in the line. It was just air pockets.”
“No. I’ve had this port two years, I’ve seen air pockets and I’ve never seen this before. These were not air pockets. Its irrelevant now because the saline dissolved them, but it wasn’t an air pocket.”
“I don’t know. It’s odd. I thought it was an air pocket. But there’s nothing there. So it was nothing. I’ll get your discharge papers now.”
And with that, he left. In the car on the way home, I called my boyfriend to rant. I was utterly enraged. I recounted all this to him, and then began to rant even more. “Apparently, it was nothing. He is convinced. I bet he would have a bag of M&Ms, and tell someone he isn’t sure there are any. He would eat twenty and say ‘Well, maybe there really isn’t anything there after all.’ He would continue doing so until there was only the bag left, and say ‘See? Nothing there after all. I told you.’ He would take a child’s puppy and assure them the puppy never existed! If I die, you know who’s fault it was.”
It was then my father chimed in, laughing his head off. “You won’t die. Nothing can’t kill you, after all. It was nothing.” I’d begun to laugh so hard I was crying, and so had my father. He was yelling that I had to stop talking or he would laugh so hard he would crap his pants or get in a crash. I was pissed though, so I didn’t stop talking.
“Right, right, it was nothing. Of course it was nothing. Oh, oh, and did I mention, his whole face was a beard. No Dad, that’s not an overstatement. You know that part of your eye, the little patch of skin in the corner? BEARD HAIR! Oh my god, my surgeon was fucking bigfoot! I thought Cape Cod hospital was bad, but at least they managed to hire Sasquatch. Falmouth was stuck with bigfoot. But no, I’ll be fine. Half blind bigfoot is sure it was nothing, so I’ll be fine! I’m gonna die. I’m so angry.”
My dad, still laughing and tearing up, chimed in “You can’t really blame him. Your whole life and medical history is just a giant cloud of confusion, nothings, and uncertainties. But this time, it apparently really was…” He burst out laughing again and it took him a moment to finish. “…Nothing.”
Just remember folks, don’t let a mythical creature give you medical advice.