Jun 28, 2012

One week out of hospital and feeling much better! :)

 For those who have been following my personal and health progress, here's a little update. I've been out of the hospital for 6 days and have made huge progress. For the first few days I spent most of my time sleeping. The first day I slept for 20 hours solid, then each day the sleep progressively tapered off to where now I'm sleeping a little more than my normal 8 hours, but it's averaging only about 11 hours now...with an occasional nap mixed in still. I've also been walking every day...or actually at night since it's cooler and I just enjoy being outside at night. Besides being cooler and yes it's bloody hot in Michigan in the Summer. Today was 97 degrees and it was 90 degrees inside, with no a/c... cause who needs a/c in Michigan? LOL.  The first few days I was walking for about 15 minutes each night but now the last few nights have been walking about an hour. I've really enjoyed these walks too. It's just me, my iPod and good tunes. In case you haven't gathered by now, music is more important to me than food... well usually and most of the time it is. If I had to choose between music and bean burritos or CHEESE, it's hard to say.

Boy I'm glad I'm only a vegetarian and not vegan cause I love cheese so much. I did try being a vegan for a few years and was actually probably healthier than ever during that time, but I craved cheese so much. Eventually, the cravings for cheese is what made me step down from the vegan platform and just be a normal everyday, lacto/ovo vegetarian. But it was so ironic during that period that I was vegan, cause I smoked cigarettes during that period. Yeah what an oxymoron and what a moron I can actually be at times. I'm like that Green Day song, Walking Contradiction... or should it be Beautiful Disaster by 311? LOL.
But hey, I was initially doing it for the animals and not so much for the health reasons. The health reasons eventually became part of it too, but the very reason I became a vegetarian back in 1997 was because of the realizations that the chicken sandwich I was eating, and the hamburgers that I used to enjoy were made from real live animals, who had feelings, emotions and actual thought processes, just like you, me and all other humans. It was the realization that we are animals too and I sure the hell wouldn't appreciate if someone rounded me up against my will, separating me from my family, through me in a cage, tortured me, then brutally killed me, just because they liked the way I taste. To me, this is just absolutely insane! However, I will not ever judge anyone who still eats meat, because I ate meat for 27 years and had virtually no guilt or total realization of what I was doing. It's easy to disassociate the meat we eat from the animals they really come from when we are programmed from birth to eat it and by the time the meat reaches our plate, all the symbols such as the head and other body parts are removed and it is nicely wrapped in a package to make it look like nice and innocent food. I also really don't have much of a problem with other people around me eating meat because since I'm human, I'm sure there still other are things that I do which some people may object too as well, for whatever reason. But just don't force me to eat your carcass and I won't force you to eat my bean curd, otherwise known as tofu. I often hear people say how gross tofu sees to them. Well, I don't really see what is so appealing about bloody animal carcass either.

And since I used to smoke cigarettes and not only smoke them, but hold the smoke in like it was a really wonderful tonic, combined with the asthma that I was born with, I had the collapsed lungs and I believe I paid the price for this, with the recent hospitalization, 4 chest tubes and the most recent and very painful surgery. I will never smoke another cigarette or anything else. It just isn't worth it. So because of these experiences, I'm more dedicated than ever to really being healthy, which is one reason why I've been walking. I would jog or run, but with my asthma, I've never been able to do that very well and I've learned to accept it. But walking is something that works really well for me, even after these Pneumothoraces, I'm able to walk, which makes me happy because I don't want to be a lazy couch potato. Life is too short and wonderful to resort to such tactics.

I also appreciate everyone who had left me nice, sincere comments and emails with best wishes and warm greetings too. Just for the record, I no longer smoke cigarettes or anything at all.

I've always liked this song a lot and of course this video just takes me back to the era when MTV played music, which was such a novel concept. Good thing we at least have YouTube so we can be our own music television. Maybe it's just evolution, but I still miss it. Here's Simple Minds "Alive and Kicking".

Jun 26, 2012

Pictures from the river today and a beautiful Rush song too....

I spent some time with nature and the skeeters today out by the river and snapped a few pictures too. Of course I was also listening to my iPod. Today's music was the Rush  "Snakes and Arrows" album, which is a newer one of theirs. 

A beautiful song that I really enjoyed was "Faithless". 
Here's the lyrics... 

I've got my own moral compass to steer by
A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
And all the preaching voices -
Empty vessels ring so loud
As they move among the crowd
Fools and thieves are well disguised
In the temple and market place

Like a stone in the river
Against the floods of spring
I will quietly resist

Like the willows in the wind
Or the cliffs along the ocean
I will quietly resist

I don't have faith in faith
I don't believe in belief
You can call me faithless
I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that's faith enough for me

I've got my own spirit level for balance
To tell if my choice is leaning up or down
And all the shouting voices
Try to throw me off my course
Some by sermon, some by force
Fools and thieves are dangerous
In the temple and market place

Like a forest bows to winter
Beneath the deep white silence
I will quietly resist

Like a flower in the desert
That only blooms at night
I will quietly resist 

Here are a few pics that I took while listening to this deep and powerful album, which made a perfect soundtrack today.

Fading Stars of Love

You're walking hand in hand,
looking at the stars in the sky,
whispering empty promises
into each others eyes.
With brief hello's and long goodbyes
and wandering thoughts in the endless sighs.

You really don't know what you want,
but you pretend to have it all in control.
Each time you make the eternal promise,
you give away a piece of your soul.
And every time you look at the stars,
you feel guilty for the love you stole.

Stacy Young 2012

Jun 21, 2012

My experiences with the latest Pneumothorax, VATS and the healing process directly after surgery

Here's the update since having the surgery on Monday. They pulled the chest tube out today and what a relief this was! I don't know how much longer I would have been able to stand having this tube protruding from my side and being tethered to the Pleur-evac chest drainage system device. Not to mention the amount of constant pain that having this tube in has caused, at the incision site, deep in my chest and in my middle to upper back also. Every breath was painful. Just the act of repositioning my body a half inch on the bed was painful and basically everything else I did while it was in was equally as painful. So yes, I'm so happy it is finally out and not to mention that it actually stayed in during this whole process so that it could actually do it's job properly! Btw, at least I know I'm not just being a whiny-wimp by my reaction to the pain that I've experienced lately, cause my nurse did tell me that her chest tube patients seemed to have suffered the most pain of any of her patients, including those undergoing major surgeries.

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.

Spontaneous Pneumothorax,
Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS),
Chest Tube,

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

Jun 20, 2012

Brown Tweed Couch

Brown tweed couch in the TV’s glare
Lying on my back
It’s itchy under there.

Falling asleep late at night
Waking to find a tweedish pattern
on my face - what a horrible sight.
Coarsey, horsey hair is all I can taste
TV blasting, fans are turning
And the lamp was left on,

As I laid there on my back
I wrote this little song.  I was watching my life go by
Wondering why you don’t feel 
the way I do.

Brown tweed couch
Cat is at my feet
He claws at my toes
He wants something to eat.

As I lay here on my back
Watching my dreams go by
Wondering why you don’t feel
the same way too.

I’m lonely
My life is turning
Please help me to go on
And stop this yearning.
  Stacy Young  1995  

Black Fuzzy Velvet Puppy Dog Ears

She has black fuzzy velvet puppy dog ears,
black fuzzy velvet puppy dog ears.
Her cinnamon bun tail clicks back and forth,
tick-tock tick-tock Mercury go get us a beer.

I know you want some cheese,
and go for a walk but why do you have fear,
of the recliner when it opens,
and when you talk,
you like to snort, grunt and wheeze.

Oh no, you lost your baby again when you went to go potty,
but you chose to potty inside instead,
which is just a little bit naughty,
but it's OK cause you have,
black fuzzy velvet puppy dog ears.

and you're a cute little cartoon pug,
that is just full of love,
and we love you too,
with your black fuzzy velvet puppy dog ears,
and with your big brown round eyes,
there's nothing we can do,
but to oblige,
and let you lick our plates when we're through.
then you get all excited like it's a big prize,
Little puppy, we all love you!

Stacy Young 2012

Mercury eating cheese while getting cooled off with mist during a Michigan heatwave.

Jun 18, 2012

3rd and 4th Spontaneous Pneumothorax and Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

 Well I finally went to the hospital Friday night and this time have a Spontaneous Pneumothorax in each lung. The right lung is collapsed 15% and left lung collapsed 45%. They put in a chest drain tube for the left lung and were planning on waiting on the right one. Late last night the tube came loose and it felt horribly painful and unsettling, so much that I really thought it was a serious problem, like involving my heart too. I can't even describe the intensity of the pain and the fear I had but I will try. I really don't think the ER doctor put it in properly to start with and he didn't do a very good job instilling my confidence in his abilities to do this either. To start with, when he told me it was 45-50% collapsed and they had to put in the chest drain tube immediately, he then joked about looking up the procedure on YouTube, which may have been his way of easing me up, but I wondered if this is perhaps what he actually did. Then I had the pleasure of watching him gather all the materials needed for this procedure in a way that he did seem like this may have been his first chest tube procedure, just the way he had to carefully look at everything and plan the whole process. Then as I was ready for the operation, he couldn't get the spotlight to turn on, and had to ask his assistant how to turn it on. They fumbled with it for a bit, then decided that it wasn't really needed. I was thinking, maybe you should just find another light that does work, just in case you need it! 

So back to the chest tube coming loose the next day and the pain that came with it. There was blood coming though the tube in spurts and every spurt was accompanied with a horrible burning feeling deep inside my chest, along with what felt like heart pain. As I was watching my stats monitor, my heart rate was climbing up to what seemed like dangerous levels... 124...130...135..... I had already called the nurse and told her and she called the doctor to come up and check it out, but I didn't know if her or the doctor realized the urgency in my situation and by now, I was totally freaking out, pressing the call nurse button repeatedly, like that was going to get them there faster. The doctor finally arrived and with a very calm and cool demeanor, she was talking to me like I was having heartburn or something non-life threatening and besides that, with the questions she was asking me, it didn't seem like she really Got It. Within a few minutes there was a room full of staff (finally) and they were really trying to figure it all out.  Right then, my leg was cramping severely too, so much that it felt like it was going to break in half kind of cramp, that I often get, but this wasn't a good time to have to deal with that little inconvenience too. So they quickly hooked me up to  the EKG, while my leg was cramping and I wasn't supposed to move at all, so they could get a good reading. Another doctor  pulled out the chest tube during this time too, since they finally came to the conclusion that it was no longer in all the way and wasn't doing it's job. So I was thinking, just great! I gained another scar, went through all that to get the tube put in and it ended up just being a waste. Anyway, they were going to put in another one but decided that since I was having the VATS (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery) on Monday that they would monitor me closely and hold off on putting in another tube.

So  I will be having this surgery this afternoon sometime after 3pm and it will involve 3 incisions. One for the camera and two for their instruments. They will look around for anything suspicious, remove any blebs, take tissue sample and also do a Pleurodesis which is a procedure where they rough up the pleural lining with a gauze or sponge and then use the scar tissue to stick the lung up. Then they will also be putting in another chest drain tube, which will probably be in for a few days, then hopefully everything will be good and I will be able to go home, finally fixed...I hope. In the meantime, the right lung is still supposedly 15% collapsed, so maybe it will just heal itself? Who knows... But I really am trying to stay positive and hopeful.

I will write an update sometime after the surgery so if this sounds exciting, stay tuned for more!

Jun 13, 2012

Sedona Dream

This is a poem I wrote while camping in Sedona.

Not coming down for a long long time
Never been so high
In all my life
Up on this mountain I can touch the sky
And I feel like I can fly
All the negative energy
Has blown away
Now I can see
A lot more clarity
The dreams I’m having are so intense
They’re telling me things
That I used to miss
And guiding my spirit
To a place of bliss
Every night
My soul takes a ride
To a sacred place
Where I can confide
And on this mountain
I have no pride
Only when I’m still
Can I see inside
This is the magic pill
That takes me for a ride.

Stacy Young  ©2009

Jun 12, 2012

Depression, Anger and the desire to Give Up... yet keep trying.

I've been massively depressed lately, although there are times when I probably don't seem all that depressed from my outward appearance to other people. This is because I've always been the type of person that has gone out of my way to seem happy, even if I wasn't. This personality disorder or difference or whatever you want to call it has been a blessing and a curse.

Lately, with these 2 stupid collapsed lungs, I've been more aware than ever that I and all humans are mortal. No matter how healthy we think we are, we are all susceptible to horrible health events and even death. The fact is, every one of you reading this blog right now will someday be dead, whether you like it or not. Life offers no guarantees or insurance. We are born into this twisted and demented planet, we live a relatively short life, then we die. I don't even believe that any human being has ever been able to really know what happens to us when we die. Some say we go to heaven or hell. Others say we reincarnate as another human, animal, plant, mineral or rock. And some people believe we just vanish like a vapor into the ether and that is all that is the end of our consciousness. I personally don't believe any of this. How can I? It's all speculation, therefore I believe that we don't know what happens to us, which is probably more accurate and scientific than any number of the array of religious beliefs and dogma.

So, here I am, just another person on this planet trying to figure it all out and get on with my life. I'm 41, have been a vegetarian for 15 years. I drink a lot of water everyday, which is usually about 10 to 15 glasses a day. I am very much the optimist-glass half full kind of person. I have no ill thoughts towards anyone, even those who may consider themselves to be my enemy, but here I am with 2 spontaneous pneumothraxes in the last 7 weeks and now my lungs ache and throb every minute of every day. I try to just walk for exercise and have to turn around and come back home due to my chest feeling tight and feeling anxious that I may just collapse right there on the sidewalk, unable to do one of the most basic human functions, which is just merely breathing. Yeah these recent realizations have definitely made me more cynical than I ever have been and have led me to feeling quite depressed too. Other things leading to my depression is the freaking lack of response from employers that I apply to. I don't know what it is. Am I coming across the wrong way to them? Is my resume all wrong? Do they not believe me when I say that I want to work for them? Is my 4 years of not really being officially employed scaring all of them? Is there any hope at all? I feel scared, helpless, anxious and am starting to feel quite angry. Angry at the world, at this economy. At the person who laid me off in 2008 during the housing bubble collapse? Angry that out of 5000 Facebook "friends" lately when posting things, maybe 2 of them will even reply or like or anything. Angry that people like Rand Paul have seemed to sell out by endorsing Romney, who is basically a white Obama, in my stupid fucking opinion. Angry at all the people who are lashing out at Rand Paul for doing this. Angry at myself, my thoughts, my carelessness, my innate trusting of most everyone. My lack of being too forward with looking for a job.

Maybe I just need to pretend like I'm just some asshole type of sales person and be really pushy with the employers I'm seeking employment at. Maybe I need to stop putting on this front that despite everything bad that is happening, that I'm really very happy. Maybe I need to frown more, instead of smiling most of the time. Maybe I need to just succumb to this lung problem and let myself move on to the "afterlife", whether this means reincarnation, or just turning into food for the grass and plants. I really don't know what to do anymore, but all this is really, really, REALLY getting me down.

Yet, my nature is to keep fighting and not just give up. Yet, this is all wearing me down really fast. I've never been so cynical in my life. For those of you who do think of me as your enemy and have "wished" for me to die, well I hope you believe in karma, because I have never wished that on you... and maybe your wish will come true, but then you just may have it come back to bite you.

I'm not God and I'm not perfect, but neither are any of you. I guess my main wish is that everyone would just at least make some effort not to be so judgmental... including myself.

Jun 7, 2012

Spontaneous Pneumothorax #2 and chest tube that falls out

OK so there's been a few things that happened since I last wrote. The job search is starting to piss me off, well  the job search isn't exactly doing that but the lack of response sure is. This is how I know it's definitely time to learn some new skills and make myself marketable again, which is one reason I'm learning web development. Sure, I won't have a degree or years of experience, but I personally think that with my creative graphic design/art  Photoshop skills combined with the ability to follow logic and the capacity for analytical/problem solving skills, and hopefully a few good websites that I designed to use as my portfolio that maybe, just maybe I can gain an entry  level job in that field at some point in the near future. That would be nice since I really enjoy that type of work. But I do have a long way to go still, however I've extremely excited and motivated to learn all that I can, so just  don't bust my bubble, I do that well enough on my own thank you very much.

Right now I'm still recovering from my second collapsed lung, which they like to call a spontaneous pneumothorax. I also had the great pleasure to experience a large plastic tube being shoved into the side of my breast, through the  tissue and between two ribs, into the thoracic cavity, which is where my lungs reside. The ER doctor felt pretty  strongly that I would be safer if I didn't go under with anesthesia, just local numbing on the skin for the  incision. After interrogating him about the consequences of undergoing such surgery without anesthesia and while remaining fully awake and completely aware of the whole process, I decided to take his advice and just go for it.  Let me tell you, that was the most painful and utterly unpleasant thing I've had to endure, ever. I was thinking about how they should record someone getting a chest tube put in without anesthesia and use it for an anti-smoking  commercial. It would be quite effective. But who am I to know anything like that. I'm just an unemployed moron, with no health insurance. Anyway, I made it though the surgery with the help of my friend Dilaudid, which is  hydromorphone administered through an IV... and a lot of clinching, crying and some screaming too. Once the surgery  was over and I had the chest tube installed, my breathing started to return to normal as my lung filled up, and with the Dilauded fully kicked in, I felt pretty decent as I lay there backed in to the ER bay in my sexy hospital gown  and nose tubes. This is where I waited for a few hours until they had a room ready. It was like I was watching a  movie or TV show and since I could breath quite well and was really high, it was sort of entertaining to watch everyone performing. After I got my room, it was really difficult to get comfortable and especially sleep with all  the wires, tubes and tape all over my body, not to mention that big plastic tube that was protruding from the side  of my left breast that ended in a little contraption sitting on the floor next to my bed.

I used this time that I was bed-ridden to work on my website and to study web development, using a laptop and a  horrible Wi-Fi connection. Basically every time I clicked anything, I had to "repair" the connection, sometimes  having to refresh the browser too. It was excruciating just to do anything, but at least it worked enough to slowly  make progress and keep my mind off of everything. At one point the next day while I was plugging away at my site and  flying high from the "legal high" that I was experiencing, along with the continued pain in my chest that never  really went away, no matter how much Dilauded or Norco I had, I noticed that my chest tube was not where it was  supposed to be and not where that nice doctor put it the day before. It just happened to be lying on the floor next  to my bed, all covered in dried blood and not doing it's job. Damn it! I went though all that, just to have it end  up ineffectively lying on the floor! Oh well, they said my lung was mostly inflated and it would probably be OK. They would just watch me and take a lot of X rays for the next few days and it should all be fine.

So here I am a couple days after getting out and I can breathe quite well, but it still hurts to breathe deep and especially to cough. I'm not convinced that I'm out of the woods yet with this and to be honest, I'm a little scared  too. Now in the course of just 6 weeks, both of my lungs have collapsed... for no apparent and obvious reason, other  than I used to smoke, but I've known a lot of smokers and I don't think I know of any who have had a collapsed lung,  but what do I know. I'm just an unemployed moron. It was one thing when I just had the one lung collapse, because I  have another one, but when the other one collapsed too, and after a 3 day hospital stay, that I still feel a lot of  pain and tightness that I felt before going on to the hospital, I'm actually scared and not really sure what to do. It also doesn't help much that I don't have health insurance. If I keep having to go to the hospital, will they eventually tell me to fuck off, or what?

Well, in the mean time I will try to stay positive. I will keep applying for jobs and will continue studying and  learning web development, which at least gives me some hope. My site is still under construction and some of it has been rewritten (and actually works). http://www.StacyYoungPhotos.com

The new pages that I made are the index/Home, About Stacy and Retro 80's Arcade. The other pages were originally made using a drag and drop web builder and I will get to those soon I hope, ultimately making the whole site original while learning a lot at the same time. Right now, I feel like I have intermediate HTML knowledge, beginning CSS and just being introduced to JavaScript and J Query, I hope to be  more proficient with all of these within a month or so and even though I have so much to learn still, I'm very motivated  and excited by it. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time and I'm finally doing something about it! This can be compared to the difference between how when someone learns to play guitar because their parents wanted  them to, verses someone learning guitar because they really want to.

I also realize more than ever how fragile life really is. The ability to just breathe, is something most of us take for granted. I sure appreciate it a lot more and now that I've damaged my lungs all these years from smoking, I realize this. Hopefully at least someone reading this will learn from my mistakes and quit smoking or never start if they don't smoke already. We only have one set of lungs in this life, so it doesn't make sense to purposely fuck them up!