Thursday, March 14, 2013

preparing to SURVIVE lung cancer surgery

A year ago today I popped an Ativan and prepared to head to lung cancer surgery.  With all the 'just in case' necessities taken care of as detailed in my previous entry preparing for lung cancer surgery,  now it was time to prepare to not only survive but LIVE. 

Still concealing my diagnosis and surgery from everyone except my co-conspirator in silence we debated who had driven to the previous outpatient surgery that briefly killed me and reversed seating before departing.

With St. Patrick’s Day looming I focused on getting out on the third morning by loading up on the good luck charms, socks emblazoned with shamrocks and a St. Patrick’s t-shirt.
Needing to disappear for at least 3-4 days took strategy.

Spousal caregiving and Patti’s family I resolved by picking Patti up the evening before surgery and posting an entry to Caregivingly Yours moments after midnight “This chili is bangin’!” –MS and Speech

Professionally as a self-employed mobile disc jockey life was taking a battering. I could not commit to jobs with both my future and post-surgery abilities unknown. I was now under ‘Management by Voicemail’.  

Coincidently my young cousin was undergoing brain surgery following a fall, so my family’s attention was justifiably on him.

With the exception of a random phone call from a person I used to know, the ruse worked perfectly.

Three to four days hospitalized recovery was projected. OMG! Sleep and/or rest is conceptual at best in any hospital I learned after two unexpected overnight hospitalizations. 

I came prepared this time with several audio books on CD from local library, portable CD player, spare batteries and a pair of comfortable noise suppressing head phones.

Waking up after lung cancer surgery (VATS with left upper lobe wedge resection, mini-thoracotomy with mediastinal lymph node dissection) that afternoon was one of the more memorable moments of my whole lung cancer odyssey …lung cancer surgery ICU

My orders were to walk at least 4X daily and while I have been told my ass is quite nice looking it gets drafty walking around in those gowns. A pair of Captain America and Mario Brothers “leisure pants” made my walks a fashion statement.

What all the medical professionals fail to realize is that … if you think you 'look good' - then you think you 'feel good'... hospital survival kit for lung cancer surgery

Thoracic surgery shares a floor with cardiac surgery and meaning no disrespect to cardiac patients, walking was like parading with snails. With my epidural and chest tube attached to a rolling IV pole I felt great and found myself slaloming through the snail parade.

Since I was attached to an IV I was supposed to have a walking companion, most of who assumed I was just another snail on parade.  At one intersection of halls a choice in direction was required either toward the window or the wall.

When you mix one part ‘Epidural of Fentanyl’ with one part me strange things happen and I found myself answering the question in my best imitation of Lil’ Jon:
“Now stop, oh then wiggle wit ya.
Get low, Get low
To the window (TO THE WINDOW), to the wall, (TO THE WALL)”
My answers became known as the “Crunk Walk”.

This 60 second clip featuring Betty White and Sandra Bullock from a movie called “The Proposal” captures the antics of the “Crunk Walk”. Nurses and aides working on that section of the wing where my companion walker’s would ask me which way I wanted to go began to look forward to my antics.

St. Patrick ’s Day morning I received Communion by a Franciscan Friar and a visit from my thoracic surgeon … I was going home!

You’ll never convince me that superstition, fashion statements and Crunk Walks do not facilitate healing. J

Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @

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