Monday, April 11, 2016

Queen of X-Rays and of Pain

I am four days post lung surgery.  The chest tube is still doing its thing.  Sort of.  Seems that some air is not making its way to the tube, but instead leaking into other tissues.  I am "spongy", they say.  Who knew that was a thing?  Not me.  The thoracic surgeon says this is not a big deal, so I will believe him.

I've had quite a few x-rays since surgery...par for the course, I'm told.  I've had two per day for the past few days. I'm becoming a familiar face to the techs.

During grand rounds this morning, I asked the Lab Guru for "the scoop," so he stayed after the others had left and told us all about what's happened in the lab so far, and what will happen next. I got to see photos of the two tumors that were in my lung!  ick! ick! ick!

When I saw "Junipero" (who-KNEE-pair-oh), my first reaction was, "So there's the bastard!" My second thought was, "Wow...how many patients have this opportunity? This is amazing."  Shortly after that, the ick-factor kicked in and my brain shut off.  ha.

Each tumor will be tested in ways that I can't even imagine. It is the first time they've had both a necrotic tumor and a live tumor to study from the same post-TIL patient.

During our conversation, I believe that I solidified my standing of "weirdest patient ever", by accidentally letting the very dear Lab Guru in on the naming convention I have been using all along.  I usually hesitate to reveal this to the medical types, but it just came tumbling out.  "José is dead!  Woo Hoo!"  That little outburst led him to ask, "What's the other one called?"  Yeah, so.

Stop staring at me.

Backing up to yesterday:
It was a horrible, awful day. I woke at 6 AM in excruciating pain. The chest tube was causing back spasms, the insertion wound felt stabby, my shoulder throbbed, and I could not inhale except for what seemed a woefully inadequate amount. I cried. I sat up in my bed and cried and cried...no sobbing though--that takes too much air. All I could do was wipe away--over and over--the unstoppable stream of tears that slid down my face.

Misery.

During this episode, the surgical fellow walked in. She assessed my situation, checked my suction box thingy, and offered some sincere words of condolence. I hate crying, and I especially hate crying while being watched...watched by a stranger. It was humiliating. So there I was, in pain and humiliated. Not a great way to start the day. The doctor left, formulating a plan as she went, I'm sure. Shortly thereafter, meds arrived and things eventually got better. I don't tolerate narcotics well, but a type and dose was found that works without turning my brain to mush. Thank goodness.

According to the thoracic surgeon, as of this morning I still may have an air leak. He's going to try clamping off the chest tube this evening to see how I do. In the morning I'll get another x-ray, and he will maybe remove the tube.

Today, my job is to walk around as much as possible, and to use the incentive spirometer ten times each hour. Patrick is being helpfully (?) anal about this, and has set a timer on his iPhone to remind me when it's time to use the thing again. Twelve minutes pass by quicker than I thought.

I cannot breathe as deeply as I'd like to, yet. I walk slower than I'd like, but when I speed up, I can't pull in enough air to keep me going. I get light-headed and have to stop. I need to figure out the best pace.

I see the Wandering Priest everywhere I go. I accused him of following me, today. "I follow all my patients," was his reply. I wonder if he bi-locates?  ha ha

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