Friday, July 22, 2011

Surgery, the Late Post part I

Ok, so I have not ranted or raved about surgery, the hospital stay or anything in between.  I just haven't been up to it.  I thought I would bring my computer with me to the hospital, updating daily after surgery on my blog.  HA HA HA!  Now that is truly funny!  I had no clue just how sore I would be, how sleepy I would be, nor how totally uninterested in my computer I would wind up being.  So, instead of a diatribe of jumbled drugged-up words, you get a clearer, less amusing picture of my hospital stay.

  We stayed up in Tampa the night before, having to be at Moffitt at 5:15am.  No one wanted to attempt the 1 1/2 hour drive at 3am (and I couldn't blame them for that) and it was just easier to get a hotel and enjoy my last night before the knife slashed into my chest.  I know, there are more delicate ways to put things, but this is how my mind was working and what it was thinking.  I tell it like it is inside my head, and I pretty much pictured the whole surgery as a nicer version of a slasher flick.

Skipping ahead to the surgery (really isn't much to say prior to that, we ordered room service and slept), I got the surprise of my life.  3 of my 4 brothers flew down from Michigan to see me.  I was in pre-op waiting, anticipating my name being called, a large lump in my throat.  I can now compare myself to a guilty man who is waiting for the gallows, with the emotions that were running through me when they came in.  I lost it at that point, crying hysterically.    All of these crazy emotions smacked me at once and I was a little girl again, terrified yet safe because her big brothers were there to protect her.  I was instantly calm.  I hadn't seen them since my mother passed nearly 5 years ago and they truly were a sight for sore eyes.  They had already met Barb and Tabby outside (I hate being the last to know anything!) so they waited their turn to come say good luck while I talked with my brothers.  I finally got to see my daughter and best friend and off I went to la-la land. 

  I woke up hours later feeling like a truck hit me, a really BIG truck.  Dim-witted me though, was trying to be a good girl with her PCA pump (a push-button machine that allows you to deliver pain medication to yourself set to a specific time and amount) and only push it every 2 hours based on memory of the medication I was on.   I knew dilaudid was given every 2 hours from working in the hospital.  What I did NOT remember is that a PCA pump is set for every 6 minutes!!  So here I was, waiting to push my button every 2 hours, in excruciating pain, screwing myself out of comfort.  When my nurse found out she told me to keep pressing every 6 minutes until I was caught up... I don't think I stopped pressing for 2 days.  Relief at last! 

  I really have to say, Moffitt Cancer Center is like a 5 star hotel.  The nurses are right on top of everything.  They are very understanding and caring, sweet in personality and never talk down to you.  They answer all of your questions and sympathize right along with you.  The food was outstanding, which is surprising for a hospital.  We all know the reputation hospital food has and I was glad I couldn't eat for the first two days.  No eating OR drinking until I could pass gas.  Not only did I have to be awake, but apparently so did the lower half of my body.  I was so thirsty, not having a drop of water to drink since Wednesday night before surgery.  Here it is Friday and I am dying!  Ice chips, whoopee (she says sarcastically) !!  I wanted to shove an alarm clock up my rear end in hopes of waking it up.  They dryness of my throat was making me cough.  Oh yeah, coughing... let's discuss coughing.

  Now my doctor knew I was giving up smoking, so he did me a huge favor and did a bronchoscopy (he cleaned out my lungs inside, got rid of all the nasty crap) so that I wouldn't have a difficult time with the ex-smoker's cough.  My lungs were deflated for surgery and they let them naturally inflate and you do that by deep breathing and coughing.  COUGHING????    I have an incision that runs from my throat to my belly and you want me to cough?  Are you crazy?  I knew this was going to be the most painful experience of my life, worse than childbirth, because it hurt to breath.  Thank goodness for working in a health care setting, for I knew that pillows are used to brace yourself to cough after any kind of thoracic surgery.  Ok, I was ready.
NO I WASN'T!  I don't care how much pain medication was in my system, I don't care if The Hulk was bracing my chest for me, I was not prepared for the amount of pain one tiny, pathetic little cough could create.  Holy Mary Mother of God, don't let me cough again!   That didn't happen, in fact, I was coughing crap out... black crap.  Ewww.  That is the only word that can describe my thoughts.  I was told I was getting out what was left behind in my lungs and it was great that I was coughing, the doctor would be very pleased.  Glad someone was pleased, because it sure wasn't me!  After coughing the colors of the rainbow over the next week, I finally was used to it (as used to it as one can get).



Friday, July 15, 2011

How Long Can I Fight?

  The last strand of hair has fallen,
  The final amount of energy is being drained.
  The dark circles under my eyes are prominent,
  The uncompromising pain remains.

  How long can I fight,
  How much can one endure?

  My dear child asks me, "Did you have fun at the doctor today?"
 Another young one inquires, "How much longer until the cancer goes away?"

  My dear children, I have no answers.
  Only a promise I can make.
  I will not leave you without trying,
  Every day, with a strong will, I shall wake.

  I will continue to fight until the seas dry,
  no water to hold in my hand.
  I will continue to fight until the mountains crumble,
  and every bird falls to the land.
 I will continue to fight until all energy is drained
  and the world's end embarks .
  I will continue to fight until the moon turns to dust
  and the Sun itself turns to dark.
  My dear children, until my last breath, I will continue to fight for you.
  A mother's love is an unquenching thirst,  something cancer cannot undo.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Some Hard News to Swallow

  Ok, my surgery is the 7th and I received some good AND bad news.  The tumor was reduced by 75%, not 50% as originally thought.  A small miracle invaded my life and I am so grateful for that.  The hard news was hearing my lungs weren't so hot and I need to change my lifestyle (aka quit smoking).  I already knew that after this cancer scare but I really didn't need to hear just how bad smoking did affect them.  OUCH!  I also didn't need to hear that for 8 weeks I won't be able to lift things over 8 pounds.  WHAT??  I can't life my precious baby girl? 

  Cut me open like a living autopsy, take my cigs from me, but do NOT tell me that when my princess comes running open-armed to me that I can not pick her up!  I am crushed by this... no... I am devastated!  When she asks to be picked up, I am going to have to say no and she is not going to understand why.  The only thing she is going to understand is mommy is rejecting her and that is going to hurt her deeply.  Just great.  I will officially become the worst mom in the world to her all because I saved my life for her.  I know she will get over it in time, for right now though, she is going to be mad.  I guess I had better make sure Lovey Bunny is nice and clean, for the both of us!

  The trip to Tampa this time was really uneventful.  Stacey, Barb and I stayed at a hotel overnight, since the evil people that schedule this stuff decided my pulmonary function tests should be at 7:30 am.  ??  Ok, I know I get up early, but not every one does and I do not want to be put through tests that early.  Once I huffed and puffed like that big bad wolf enough times for Ms. Piggy, I was done, and dizzy!  I didn't sound like a chipmunk, but they mix oxygen and helium together for the test since helium is lighter than oxygen.  Yesterday, I truly was an air-head! 

  We drove around Tampa for a while, seeing my old home of Carrolwood.  I saw my first apartment, my first job in Tampa and so many restaurants and stores where I used to go.  Ah, I love nostalgia.  Oops wait... Oh yeah, the dizziness was getting to me and we had to return to Moffitt.  Besides, I had two more appointments to go to and those were the important ones. 

  So, now you know.  Now I know.  Smoking is really bad, I mean really!  It's not some ploy by evil non-smokers to get you to stop polluting their air, it's not some ploy by the Surgeon General to scare us all into goody-two-shoes.  It's honest and for-true bad!  I now have COPD (which my mother died from) but not as bad as her.  If I quit now, I won't be on oxygen by the time I'm 50!  Bye, bye tobacco, I thought you were my friend.  You kept me calm when I was stressed, entertained me when I was bored and shared so many tears with me.  It's time I find a new friend, one that won't try to kill me when I am in the same situations!