Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just an ordinary day ... NOT!!

This will be a bit of a long story … And the attached pictures have nothing to do with anything.

I started today asleep.  After that everything moved rather quickly.

I started with a pulmonary function test … breathe shallow, breathe deep, breathe slow, breathe fast, exhale, inhale, we’re blocking the tube but still want you to breathe, now take a puff on the inhaler and repeat the tests.  Wow … it doesn’t sound like a lot, but breathing can be tiring.

After that appointment we scurried over to the surgeon’s office for the first consultation.  The chairs in the waiting room were not intended for sitting time of beyond 20 to 30 seconds, but be waited about half an hour or a little more.  Normally the waiting room is not a part of the discussion, but the people that came through while we waited were quite unique … especially the loud family.  I cannot believe that a group of people would make that much noise anywhere, let alone a doctor’s office … but we’re not talking kids.  The patient was an elderly man, his wife was with the group and there were two younger adults (man and wife … brother and sister … not sure) accompanying them.  They occupied 4 chairs very close to each other, but talked as it they were in a hurricane and several hundred feet away.  The younger lady was giving commands to the others.  At one point she asked, “Do you know what the level was?”  The one responding said, “I think it was 2 …”  The lady then yelled, “No!  It was 1.7”  You could still hear them in the waiting room while they were back in the office.
Then it was my turn.  My BP was up (I think more because of the loud family than the other stresses), my O2 sat was a little low until I took a few deep breaths and the nurse took my temp, but I do not remember if it was normal.  The doctor came in and hung a film of my ct scan on the light board and started talking …

I was listening, but I could not take my eyes off two of the specific images.  This growth literally covers from front to back of the chest cavity and vertically starts at the diaphragm and goes just beyond the halfway point.

The doctor’s explanation was a bit lengthy, but very clear – My pulmonary function is a bit decreased (you think?!?  With half of my right chest cavity blocked, that might be a problem?).  But he says I have plent of reserve to intubate my left side so they can deflate my right lung for the procedure.  He also stated this is the biggest mass of this type he has ever seen … he once had a man from Alaska who had a large mass like this, but not nearly this big.  I kind of felt like I should get a medal, or a trophy or something.  Anyway …

He cannot tell from the images for sure if it is touching the lung, the heart or the diaphragm.  The mass is benign, but must be removed before it actually does damage by displacing other organs.  If it is touching the lung he will use his “stapler” to remove the affected part of lung, but does not think much (if any) will have to be removed.  If it is touching the heart he will simply cut the pericardium (which is apparently very common in heart surgeries) and there should be no issues.  If it has adhered to the diaphragm he may have to cut and reconstruct the diaphragm which would cause more discomfort and possibly cause some issues with my breathing for a while.

With any luck he will go in between the 5th and 6th ribs and not have to remove a rib to accomplish this.  He should be able to move muscles out of the way rather than cut through them making recovery much easier.  If all goes well I will spend 4 to 5 days in the hospital with no ICU time, but tubes sticking out of me for drainage and pain control.  If things don’t go so well I might need to be in ICU or possibly on a ventilator for a couple days before going to the floor.

The line of the day was when he said, “We should be able to have this on the pathologist’s table for Thanksgiving.”  Ummm … I think I’d rather stick to turkey or ham, but oh well … To each his own.

I am scheduled for an echo stress test tomorrow, and who knows what else (probably ekg, and other basic stuff).  The doctor heard my murmur and thinks there should be a follow up after 30+ years of not having it officially checked.  Things are moving so fast it is hard to keep up with, but I do like and trust the doctors I have seen.

We are going to try and schedule the surgery for the 1st week of December, but it also depends on the surgeon’s availability.  As usual, we will let you know. 

I do plan to use my time away from work to laser the rest of my beard and mustache.  I will have good pain meds so it should be more tolerable.  I would like to return to work looking a lot more feminine than I do right now.  The unfortunate reality to all this is I will likely have to delay my hrt for a while until this is over and all follow up tests are complete ... But at least I know I should have a noce life span to accomplish my ultimate goal.