Friday, January 7, 2011
“So how ‘bout that 4 day 3 night cruise?” Sean asks as we pull on to our street. I smiled as I said “You are right”, “This time around was smooth sailing.” At least compared to the first surgery I had. Where as I was nervous and quite anxious before this surgery, the feelings have been replaced with excitement and readiness for the next one. The left lung resection was completed in about 2 hours, open to close. They made nearly a 7” inch incision at an angle below my left shoulder blade. After deflating my left lung, Dr. Swisher, my surgeon, used a staple laser to cut out the tumors. The tool punches out the areas where the tumors are and makes a little ring around each tumor as it clears out the areas that the tumors were immediately touching. There turned out to be seven in all and Dr. S was not only extremely pleased, but also incredibly confident that he took everything there was. Then they inserted a two-foot long chest tube in my side and filled a ‘bag’ inside the lungs up with water. When I awoke, I was pretty sick from the anesthesia but I remember seeing my smiling husband and my doctor. Surgery had gone well. Now all I had to do was heal. My first thought? Well my Aunt Joanne, a survivor herself, had said “Walk when the doctors tell ya.” And that is exactly what I did! I did all of my breathing techniques from coughing to inhaling while Sean and I watched the flat screen full of free movies in our private room. From Toy Story 3 to Iron Man 2 we laughed and healed. Your emails, notes, calls, flowers, and visits kept us STRONG and full of positivity. Sean and I were at ease and Sean was nearly at home with his cute jokes that he knows can make me blush a near brick red color. Dr. S and his wonderful team came in to visit a couple of times and told me that I was such a STAR patient that he could just operate on me all the time. Hee Hee…no thank you! He will get to do my right lung, but that is it. My library needs me; my family and friends need me. And I need to get back and see my sweet happy students, and family and friends!! But I knew what he meant. I think he is pretty awesome too. When asked to show them how I can blow out through my airway and also cough, he said that I had very strong lungs because I could scrunch the machine measurer thingy like an accordion. Pretty cool. And yes it is true that by day 3 I donned make up as we headed for home. Not without a series of events that happened first of course. After I showed them that I could walk a few laps around the floor every few hours and I passed the breathing tests, they pulled my Foley and then a few hours later they took out the chest tube. No, it didn’t hurt. I just took a deep breath on the count of 3 and the nurse pulled it out. She explained that when they would later remove the epidural that made me numb from the waist up, I would feel more pain. Mainly where the tube was in my side. No worries. If the fantastically awesome nurses could fix my insane itchies and nausea then I had full faith they would help me through the pain. Boy, were they right. I am still pretty sore there now, but the tissue that was cut for the long tube (allowing my lungs to drain out the fluid) will take some time to fully heal. As for my back, I am only sore to the touch and I can sleep pretty well in a semi upright position on our couch at home. The bed is still too soft for me to sink into.
It has been three weeks since I underwent part 1 of my double lung resection. I am really doing pretty well and though I was kept busy visiting friends and family over the holidays, I have been sleeping a lot. I am hoping to be completely off the Norco pain medicine soon. It works and the pain is so much better (under control), but it makes me itch like crazy and so I have to take Benadryl to stop me from scratching all over and well that makes for lots of sleepy time. Which is not so bad, but I am ready to get back to work, and back into the real world. I am being good and patient and following doctor orders, and I can tell that I am feeling better every day.
We will see the doctor on the 11th. I am excited to see him. My incision looks great and though I still get a little winded I know he will be happy with my progression. I will also have an MRI that day and see Dr. Benjamin. I don’t think I mentioned that they found a spot in the tissue in my left shoulder from the bone scan. Really I didn’t know about it when I met with Dr. B last time. Dr. Swisher’s PA told us. They did an X-ray but still couldn’t get a full picture and so we will all know more after the MRI. Dr. B made it sound like it was not a big deal really and even if it is cancerous they will probably just fix it up with some radiation. Not my words. Those are Dr. B’s. And there is really no reason for any concern at this time. As I say, we will just cross that bridge when we get there.
This part of the story is much too sweet to pass up. I was worried about how big the scar was going to be. I had been looking at it in the mirror after we got home and I was feeling kind of scared because the incision looks pretty big across my back and I knew soon enough I was going to have another to match. Sean said it was like my angel wings were being taken off. Taken off I asked? Yes, he replied. Because God needs to keep me here and this way I will blend in more without my wings. Reason infinity why I love this man so much. I hear him tell his friends that I give him so much strength, that I am so strong. But he is strong for me too and his positive energy and silly jokes always find me when I need them the most.
I am so happy to report that everything is going well and I will write more after my doctor’s appointment.
Carpe Diem! I know I will!!