Lung surgery: a huge process, still ongoing

Wow — thanks to all my family and friends who’ve continued reaching out to me through this whole process! The good and healing intentions — and love — are like a pool of healing light.

It’s going to take me a while to pull my thoughts together on this one. I had surgery on Thursday 1/17/19. It was initially scheduled for 5:30 AM, then for 7:30, then (according to the surgeon) 9:30, and then, according to his office, 7:30. The actual time was something like 1:30–2:00 PM. Lots of time to sit around in a hospital gown, sipping from ice chips (“nothing by mouth after midnight”), Sweetie at my side. At one point. we considered going home — 1.5 miles away — for awhile, but there was a major snowstorm brewing, and it seemed best to stay where we were.

I had the same anesthesiologist as the for the previous lymph node procedure — so surprised he recognised me! — and  I was glad. He seems competent, informative and connected. So it was a breathing treatment, and other fol-de-rol, and then I was kissing Sweetie g’bye and sailing off to the OR. That last — and the fact that I don’t actually remember entering the OR (the doors opening on the bright white room, and…) that makes me think he might have started the happy juice a little early, due to my high BP. Or simply kindness.

And kindness was the word of the next few days. The pain control was well done — I had an “as needed” (every 15 minutes) fentanyl IV button, as well as, I assume, a trickle of whatever else to keep the overall pain down to a dull roar. There was no lack of pain — the incision was between my ribs, roughly from scapula to sternum — and they had spread the ribs to get at the lung and remove and the whole upper lobe. But all of the follow-up medical staff — who each introduced themselves in soft voices, as they came in to do whatever they had to do — were skilled and gentle, and were focused on my comfort as well as my health. I know I was damned cranky on at least a couple of occasions, but they remained kind and patient.

I’ve never been in an intensive care unit before, and I was there for five days. All my needs were taken care of, often before I realized them, and every request filled as best as possible. Everyone from the janitor to the dietitian to the nurses, the nursing aides, the pulmonary technicians — everyone who entered my room — was quiet, kind, and helpful. (The food was awful, but…)

Meanwhile, outdoors was a record-breaking stowstorm. I was insulated in all possible ways, and Sweetie made his way to my side every single day, bringing me home-made bread, flowers, love, kindness, and his presence.

On my last morning, they moved me from ICU to another unit for a couple of hours before discharge, and it was there that my surgeon removed the tube that drained my chest cavity. “This will only hurt a little…” “YEEEEAHHHHOOOOWWWWW!” Goddamn. He’s a fine surgeon, but “gentle” is not a descriptor I’d use for him.

I’ve been home for a little over a week now, and things are getting better. The pain is abating, bit by bit, and Sweetie and I are learning how to communicate about what we both need in this situation. It’s been an adjustment, but “kindness” is an understatement for his commitment. I’m still really, really short of breath, and out-of-it due to the heavy-duty pain drugs. I sleep a lot. Next week I have a follow-up with the oncologist, and then with the surgeon’s NP (hoping she’ll remove the staples!).

And an upcoming show to paint for! Hopefully I’ll get my website calendar fixed in time.

And my dad is home from several days in the other hospital, with pneumonia and subsidiary problems. So glad he’s better!

4 thoughts on “Lung surgery: a huge process, still ongoing

  1. I hope you feel yourself soon, my dad had old heart surgery when I was little. I know how hard it is to heal from something like you just had done. Janice Norton

  2. Five days in the ICU is a long time. Be careful with yourself when you start to feel better. That’s usually when you make that one extra move which sets you back!

  3. It sounds as though the worst is over, at least! Also looking like a more positive outcome than I feared from your last post. But pain is a bitch! Hope it’s getting better fast.

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