Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day +108 (What a difference an outpatient clinic makes ...)

It is hard to believe another week has gone by. We so enjoy waking up in our own beds as a family of four. I figured I better share my thoughts on last week's outpatient clinic appointment in Los Angeles before tomorrow morning's appointment. I realize every clinic, hospital, doctor is different, but I now know just how much our family was spoiled in Seattle by the SCCA and Seattle Children's Hospital. Don't get me wrong, everyone we came into contact with last Monday, including old acquaintances, was friendly enough and very helpful. However, the experience was completely different. It will take some time to adjust to the variation in routine. I about passed out when we initially got to the hospital. When we arrived at the greeting desk to pick up our entry badges, the receptionist immediately handed Hunter a mask after learning he was a BMT patient. Honestly, Hunter wearing a mask is not a problem for me, I'm all about my son's personal safety after everything he's gone through in his life. I simply found it strange because in Seattle they only hand you a mask if you (the patient) are sick, not necessarily to prevent you (the patient) from getting sick. Both facilities in Seattle do a great job of screening each patient, family member, caregiver, visitor and employee prior to their entry. If you are a patient who is ill, you wear a mask. If you are anyone other than a patient and you are ill, you are asked to stay away until you are well. I promptly put the mask on Hunter upon realizing there was no (and I mean absolutely zero) screening process. It may have been my paranoia but I heard a sneeze to my left and a cough to my right every few steps our entire walk to the outpatient tower. Unfortunately, it's not a short distance and I literally felt as if I could see the germs floating in the air. Hunter's appointment was in a location we had been previously but the check-in process was slightly different. Thankfully, a "masked" nurse, who coordinated our Los Angeles care, met us as we stepped off the elevator. In the back of my mind I was wondering, "Why is she wearing a mask?" Imagine my surprise when I learned halfway through our opening conversation she was actually ill and at work! That just doesn't happen in Seattle! I panicked when we met Hunter's Attending Physician, social worker and the rest of his team, all in masks. I convinced myself since one of their co-workers was ill they all had to take precautions. Right? Hunter put the Attending through her paces, making sure she checked his ears and mouth, listened to his chest and back, looked over his skin, and felt his belly and scrotum. We spent most of the appointment reviewing his treatment in Seattle and his current medicines, including his steroid taper schedule. If everything continues to go smoothly Hunter will be off steroids completely by January 28th! The highlight of the morning was running into the volunteer, a BMT patient himself, Hunter fell in love with back in June of 2008. Hunter pretended not to remember Joseph, putting on his shy act, but I believe he did because as soon as Joseph left the room Hunter was asking for him. Another difference between Los Angeles and Seattle is the timing of Hunter's blood draw. In Los Angeles his appointment ends with his blood draw. We receive his results later in the day, or in our case last week, the next day. In Seattle Hunter's blood draw was done first, so when we arrived at his clinic appointment the Attending Physician and nurse already had the results. I feel bad Hunter has to receive needle pokes again after having his Hickman Line removed, especially since I forgot the numbing cream. However, Hunter showed me he's set to handle any and all pokes with only the slightest flinch.


  1. The adjustment home is so hard! Having to get used to a whole new routine, but don't ever be afraid to speak up! I did and it landed Henry back in the hospital!! UGH. What a trooper Hunter is! Elizabeth is still listening for Hunter and when we got back from dinner there was no one there to meet us at the door. We miss you guys. Take care , you're in our prayers.

  2. Autre hopital, autres moeurs... Ne vous laissez pas gagner par la paranoia, tout se passera aussi bien qu'à Seattle, mais différemment.
    Et faites confiance encore à Hunter, il passe à travers les épreuves, les tests, les examens avec une facilité déconcertante !
    Profitez de la vie à 4,
    Bisous de nous tous,
    Sylvie et les garçons.

  3. Hi,
    It does seem like a whole new world to get used to! Hopefully Hunter's visits will becoime less frequent and his immune system will be up to speed soon so that these visits will be less stressful.



  4. It must be hard Rhea Tay...but you are home and that is what is most important...I am dying laughing because I can imagine your face when they gave Hunter a mask and when you heard the coughs and sneezes!!! too funny. much love to you guys...thanks for the update!

  5. Ha... welcome to my world -- I swear I can visualize those germs floating around too! I'm so glad that Hunter is doing so well... sorry that things are quite so smooth... but, just think, it will be a thing of the past one day!
    Take care.