Since this was my first real surgery I was feeling extra anxious about it, but as I got the first glimpse of my prep nurse as they were wheeling me into the surgery prep room, I started to feel some relief from the anxiety with the sight of her genuine, warm and caring smile. I felt that it was a blessing to have her as my prep nurse and that she definitely met her calling with this particular career path because she was as sweet and helpful as could be. So pretty much immediately they started giving me pain meds and anti-anxiety meds as well and her nurturing voice helped guide me through this process. Then they injected the general anesthesia, but I wasn't really aware exactly when they did this. All I remember is my prep nurse's smiling face, along with some other staff walking around, then waking up in a complete state of shock and shivering probably worse than I ever have. Not sure, but it almost felt like a form of convulsions cause I do remember, not only a severe shaking, but flailing around on the operation bed and feeling extremely cold and confused, then my God....there was the PAIN. As I was just waking up and having these experiences, it seemed that everyone around me were also freaking out, and I kept asking if the surgery went OK and if I was OK, I was assured that everything was fine as they put warm blankets over me. I asked for more pain meds but they said they had already given me a tremendous cocktail of meds and they couldn't give more right then yet. So I sat there slowly waking up and warming up and finally quit shivering, but the pain was so intense in basically my entire upper body that I could not move or even budge at all. During the Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery, otherwise just called VATS, they didn't find any blebs or anything else suspicious, but they did perform a Pleurodesis, which is mechanically irritating the parietal pleura. In other words, they rough up the linings of my lungs and the lung cavity with a gauze, to make it bleed, which helps the lung stick to the cavity walls as it heals and scabs up. By now it was late at night and obviously I was their last surgery for the day. Eventually they moved me back to my room, but I didn't have the nice "luxury" room where I had been in the ICU, but a regular private room on what they simply to referred to as "The Floor".
|Pleur-Evac lung fluid evacuation system and my chest tube|
That was 3 days ago and like I said, they removed the chest tube today. Basically since they put it in during the surgery, I have not really been able to sleep. This was due to a combination of a lot of pain and the inconvenience of having the tube coming out of my side, plus the fact that just laying down or even inclining a certain amount was entirely too painful. So any sleep had to be done totally sitting up, which is even more difficult for me since I'm a stomach sleeper. LOL these conditions aren't at all conducive to really getting any decent sleep. So after they removed the tube early this afternoon, the first thing I did was just stretch out on the bed, laying down on my stomach and going to sleep within seconds. I was able to sleep the entire afternoon without being bothered until the room service called to see if I wanted to order dinner. I hesitated since at that particular moment, food was the last thing I was concerned about, but I knew that once 6:30pm came, the room service would be closed and I wouldn't be able to eat anything until after 6:30 the next morning. Since I had been sleeping very well for the first time since before the surgery and was just jostled from a really interesting dream, I couldn't think very well, so I just asked them what they recommend. They told me today's special was butter/garlic angel hair pasta with chicken and green beans, coleslaw and melon/cantaloupe on the side. I said fine, just leave off the chicken since I'm vegetarian...then immediately went back to sleep, on my stomach.
As humans, we often take little things for granted like our health, being able to breathe well and without pain, being able to just freely get out of bed and walk around and sleeping in the position that we find most comfortable. These are things that I used to take for granted and even though I can't promise how I will feel and think in the future, I do know that now, I don't take these things for granted. I also appreciate life, health, tasty healthy food, good nurses and doctors and friends and loved ones so much more too.
Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS),
|flowers my friend picked from his yard|
|my little setup with everything at arms-reach|
|the food was exceptional & all produce was local and organic|
|closeup of my salad with computer in background|