Reflecting on my cancer surgery

Over the past week, I have been reflecting that it was 11 years ago at this time that I was in the hospital having and beginning to recover from a lobectomy. Half of my right lung was removed due to a carcinoid cancerous tumor.

I had never had a major surgery like this and obviously I was scared. I had a new will notarized on the way to the hospital. I was never worried about dying from cancer. I was concerned that somebody might make an error during the surgery, despite everyone’s assurance that my surgeon was the best and they wouldn’t want anybody else doing it.

Going under anesthesia is an interesting experience and fortunately happens quickly. I don’t know how long my surgery lasted, but I think I remember my daughter coming in my room first and it was dark by then. Just out, I felt pretty good. I imagine that the affects of whatever was in the anesthesia and the epidural they put in before my surgery kept me oblivious to the pain I would begin to feel later.

I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have had more things sticking in me. I had an epidural in my spine, an iv in my arm or hand, a catheter, and a tube stuck in my side for fluid to drain. If the surgery wasn’t a trauma enough for my body, I was now traumatized.

I suppose the surgery started the trauma. When I woke up, it was like there was a tennis ball under my arm. I kept feeling like they didn’t sew my skin up right. Later I realized it was swelling. For months after the surgery skin under my breast would be kind of slimy and peeling and there was an odor about me that I simply could not stand. After effects from the anesthesia, I was told.

There was one good thing about my hospital stay. My bed faced the Walnut Street Bridge in Harrisburg which has pretty lights on it. It was getting dark early, so I could enjoy how beautiful it looked reflecting in the river. Being a Pisces, the water also gave me some comfort. There was one other thing, one nurse who could inject the morphine without causing the sensation that my hand was on fire. I asked her why her shots were different and began to instruct the other nurses hoping to at least improve that experience. And then there were visitors.

I was only supposed to be in the hospital for four days. I was in for eight, There was air leaking out of my lungs which meant a staple had popped. How is that for a visual? They cut off your lung and staple it shut? While the epidural lasted, the pain wasn’t too bad. After 6 days, I began to feel more pain and wasn’t sure why. They determined the epidural was no longer working and removed it. I began to feel the tube stuck in my side poking between my ribs under my breast. They weren’t giving me more pain relievers to make up for the removal of the epideral. They said I was past the worst part of the pain. The good thing about the removal of the epidural was my allergic reaction might calm down. I had a rash all over my body that also went down my thighs. They gave me benedryl for relief but this rash was so bad you could see where the rash had been for about three months following my surgery. There were other effects from the surgery that lasted five years.

I was surprised by that since before the surgery I was told, “You will be able to do everything you ever could after six months.” I was NOT! For two years following the surgery I couldn’t ride my bike or do aerobic activity without getting nauseous and/or dizzy.

After five years, I was able to go up a long set of steps and not stop to huff and puff when I got to the top. That was exciting! Recently, when I was checked out at the hospital and the doctor was listening to my lungs, he said he couldn’t tell that I was missing any. I suggested maybe it grew back and he agreed. I was sort of surprised since the general mindset is that doesn’t happen. I had stopped all scans and haven’t had an x-ray since I began studying energy healing in 2008. That is another story that I have shared elsewhere and I’ll share here another time. For now, I am happy to be a survivor and plan to live to be at least 120. That is my intention. Some call me crazy and I say after two divorces, cancer and five children, I deserve to be:)

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