Some drama during what did turn out to be, thankfully, my last night inpatient at NIH had me wondering. The "night thoracic fellow" came in to assess my recovery sometime after 8:00PM. The thinking had been that one more x-ray, the following morning, would be my ticket out of there. Sadly, I seemed to be too puffed up, literally, for it to go that easily.
The thoracic fellow pushed various places around my left chest and side. I could feel the sponginess. After what I thought was quite a lot of him comparing, listening to, and pushing on me, he phoned the thoracic surgeon, "the boss," as he referred to him, to find out what the next step should be.
"The boss" ordered another x-ray for that evening. Off we went. Upon our return, the night nurse offered pain meds, and took vitals. New tonight, and because of the sponginess, she told me that I'd be sleeping "with oxygen." I got to choose between humidified, or non-humidified (humidified, please). She flagged my room as "Do Not Disturb" after she left, and I fell asleep quickly. In the morning, I could tell that the puffiness was worse than it had been the night before. I was at x-ray at 7:00 AM. The tech there recognized me after so many visits, and filled out the sign-in sheet for me.
Shortly after returning to my room, the "daytime thoracic fellow" was there, assessing. She mentioned that they might have to "put in a little chest tube." This was not what I wanted to hear at all. My own fellow came in later, and did his assessment. He advised me to walk around the unit until morning rounds started. This I did, making circuit after circuit. I got light-headed at one point and crashed into my husband's shoulder, unable to move enough air. I thought, "This is it! They're not going to let me go."
We didn't bother starting to pack up the room. We waited for the doctors to do their rounds. First to round was the immunotherapy team. It was a smallish flock this day, but it did include the principle investigator (The Guy!) The decision about whether I would stay or go was entirely up to the thoracic team. The attending said that the morning's x-ray looked "about the same" as the one from the night before. I didn't know if that was good news or bad news.
A few minutes later, the thoracic surgeon came in with his flock (of one), plus my fellow, to talk to me about how the morning walking went, how I was feeling, and how spongy he felt that I was. After listening to my lungs, and considering for a while, he told me that he was sending me home! Woo Hoo! I am to have a follow-up x-ray at my local hospital in a week, and to mail the disk to NIH.
We were strongly encouraged to include lots of stops during the drive
home. The doc suggested that I get out and "do a few laps" every couple
of hours. "Walking is the best thing you can do for yourself," he
said, and so we did. We stopped five times on our 500+ mile trip.
It's good to be home!