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Friday, June 15, 2007

Birthdays and Anniversaries Part Two

Back to the story.
My appointment was set with the Thoracic surgeon for June 19th. My mom had come home from cheerleading camp and was around to try to comfort me. Just so you know, both my parents felt pretty bad that I went to the Dr.'s appointment by myself, they had no idea that it would be such a big thing.
June 17th we celebrated my 24th birthday. Before I knew it, it was time to go to Tulsa to see the surgeon, Dr. Loughridge. We had planned that my mom would take me down,but my dad would be at work. Until the surgeon's office called the morning of my appointment to make sure that I packed a bag, just in case they wanted to admit me that day. So my dad came home and we all went to Tulsa. I saw Dr. Loughridge and he told us that I had a tumor in my chest somewhere around the size of a baseball. He scheduled me for surgery the next day.
I was admitted to the hospital. They did all sorts of checks on me. My blood type, (A negative. That freaked my mom out, she wanted them to test again. No thanks, mom, it's my arm they poke not yours! Both my parents have positive blood types. I got a recessive gene I guess.) They checked all the levels of everything. My potassium was low so they gave me two pills. Guess what was in my throat all night? That's right two potassium pills.
I didn't sleep that night. I kept waiting for them to come put an IV in me and they never did, they should have, but they didn't. My surgery was 9 or 10 that morning. They wheeled my bed out and took me all over to get to the surgery area. I was so nervous, I was teeth chattering nervous. I talked to the anesthesiologist and Dr. Loughridge. Then they wheeled me into the surgery room, where they moved the IV line I'd been given and put in an artery line (those hurt a lot. Note, if a nurse tells you something might hurt a bit, that's really a code for 'this will hurt worse than anything you've ever felt before'). Then they put the mask over my face and I don't remember anything until I woke up in ICU. At this point I had two options for what this tumor was, benign or cancerous. My gut instinct was that it was cancer.
My parents and Dr. Loughridge filled me in on what went on during my surgery a few days later when I was becoming more coherent.
My surgery was supposed to last 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. It lasted somewhere between 3 or 4 hours I believe. They had to basically do the surgery the same way they would open heart surgery (many people who see my scar wonder if I've had open heart surgery).
They cut through my breast bone and went after the tumor. The tumor had grown around my windpipe,my vocal chords, esophagus, and arteries. Dr. Loughridge had to dissect the tumor out in tiny pieces. I lost my thymus in the process. The surgical team was calling my parents about every 20-30 min. My parents told me later that there came a point when the phone call didn't come for a while and they were getting worried. My heart had stopped during that period of time, but Dr. Loughridge massaged my heart with his hand and got it going again.
After my surgery Dr. Loughridge talked to my parents and told them what had gone on during surgery. He told them that there had been a lot of stress to my vocal chords and he didn't know if I would be able to talk again or not.
When I started waking up in ICU I wanted to know what the results were. Did I have cancer? My instinct told me yes. Dr. Loughridge came to visit me and tried to explain a few things. My parents were there, too. He told me that he's called in the oncology team and I remember nodding and thinking 'what kind of Dr. is that?' Somehow, it was conveyed to me that yes, it was cancer.
I was in ICU for two days, I think. They had me on morphine, so don't quote me on that fact. It might have been three days. The last day I was in ICU they needed to take out my swan line and get me settled. I remember sitting up and trying the food they brought me and feeling so sick. My mom was in front of me and I didn't want to get sick on her so I asked her to move. She didn't and I ended up growling at her to move so I could get sick.
When the nurse took out the swan line, she had to hold it to stop the bleeding. She checked to see if the spot had clotted enough for her to no longer need to put pressure on it and I splurted blood on her uniform. I apologized and she laughed, it was involuntary. Blood pumps.
They moved me upstairs to the same floor as the open heart surgery patients. That was pretty funny because most of them were very old and by now I was feeling pretty good. I could breathe and eat and swallow and I felt good. I wasn't even in pain. Dr. Loughridge's partner checked on me and told me I should take pain pills, that they weren't going to make an addict out of me, but I didn't hurt. I think it was the power of prayer. I had so many people praying for me.
Well sorry to do this, but this will be continued next time.

1 comment:

Miscellaneous From Missy said...

Hee-hee! I don't have to wait for next time! :)