Posts Tagged ‘Health’

The Über-Boober: A Final Report

3 comments Written on September 17th, 2011 by
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It’s been a week since I’ve commented on the state of Valerie’s health. The main reason being that we’ve been waiting for the lab report to come back and tell us exactly what it was that the surgeons took out of her chest. That report came in yesterday.

We are very pleased (and relieved!) to report that it was indeed a thymoma, and that it was fully encapsulated. This means that we’re done. There’s no other cancer to worry about. No further surgery to do. No chemo or radiation treatment or anything else.

All that’s left to do is manage the ongoing pain (which as it turns out, even after ten days is still considerable) and heal.

My thanks once again to all of you who emailed or posted your concerns and well wishes, who kept us in your thoughts, lit candles, rang bells, invoked nameless deities, sacrificed small woodland creatures, and all the rest. You’re the best, and we truly appreciate all the positive energy you put out into the universe on our behalf.

third day of the Über-Boober

2 comments Written on September 9th, 2011 by
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The second night was much like the first, with orderlies and nurses showing up every hour to take X-rays, check vitals, deliver injections, and basically prevent either of us from getting more than an hour’s sleep at a time.

A bit before 6am, one of the surgical residents showed up. And just like that, they removed V’s catheter. We discussed the needed changes to her oral pain meds, and notes were made and passed on to the nursing staff. We had V’s pain under control!

That left only two drains, and we were told to expect members of the surgical team to return in late morning (after their first surgery of the day) and remove the drains. After that, we’d see how Valerie was doing, and it was likely she’d be going home the next morning, assuming she managed to urinate some time in the next four to six hours.

Except that’s not what happened. V had moved from the bed to the chair, and was resting comfortably, waiting for an orderly to show up with breakfast. Instead, the surgeons returned. It turned out other people involved in that morning’s surgery were running late, and so they returned before breakfast and quickly removed the remaining drains!

Then the nurse came back, and even though Valerie was no longer on an IV drip, someone had decided she needed a couple hours’ of Magnesium added to her system. So a new line was put in (after she’d worked so hard to have all of the old lines removed). A very crappy hospital breakfast (with almost nothing that V had actually ordered brought to her) was picked at, and I took that opportunity to sneak off myself to the cafeteria (where the food was actually pretty good). When I returned, they’d managed to bring some of the items Valerie had ordered, but they were horrible all the same.

Valerie took a trip to the bathroom and lo, managed a tink! Soon after, the Physical Therapist showed up and wanted to take a walk and see what Valerie could handle. V was a star! She strode back and forth the length of the hallway with ease, and climbed up and down a flight of stairs without any problem. The PT was well pleased, and announced that she was done with V.

When the Magnesium was done, free at last of all drains and tubes and monitors (but with a massive dressing where her chest drains had been), and having successfully regained the use of her plumbing, we proceeded to wash off a couple days of grime and bed sweat. Valerie looked and felt a million times better afterwards, and settled back into bed in a clean gown to await the arrival of sister at noon.

Her sister showed up, as did the lunch tray. After a bit of chitchat, I left Valerie to her sister and went off to grab a bite myself, and to get some work done. A little over an hour later, they called to say the senior surgical resident had come through and completed Valerie’s discharge order. Prescriptions for her meds had been written up, and I headed up to the room to pack up everything while we waited for a wheelchair to come around.

We were on the road a bit after 2pm, and despite massive traffic all the way home, we arrived just after 3pm. I unloaded the car, made sure Valerie was settled comfortably in bed, and then headed off to the pharmacy to fill her scripts before she needed her next dose (I made it with fifteen minutes to spare).

So, we’re home. All the danger is past. All the anxiety is over. No more sleep interruptions, no more juggling medication schedules trying to find out what works. The plan for the rest of the weekend is sleep, broken up by scheduled pain meds, and such getting up and walking around as suits V’s desire.

As for me, I’m happy to have my wife out of the hospital, and I’m looking forward to being able to sleep for more than an hour at a stretch tonight. Good night!

Valerie’s Über-Boober Adventure (day 2)

No Comments » Written on September 8th, 2011 by
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It’s been a long but mostly good day, despite the oddity that when we were trying to sleep (silly thing for us to want to do after 11pm) the nursing staff managed to come through at least once each hour for a test, or a reading, or an injection. Sleep, such as it was, came in dribs and drabs.

The surgeons (or rather, the surgical residents) began coming by at about 5am, in ones and twos. In turn, the thoracic surgeon himself came by too. Each of these doctors were professional and helpful and informative. We like V’s surgical team muchly.

Local area flooding delayed the shift change, but a bit after 8:30am the charge nurse who had taken such excellent care of Valerie all night finally left (her shift had actually ended at 7am) and the new nurse, while well-intentioned, managed to do most things with a modicum of pain.

Other highlights of the day included V moving from bed to chair, and back again. The initial move caused quite a bit of pain (her lungs suddenly having to work much harder than they had for the past 24 hours), but once she acclimated, the trip back to bed was anticlimactic. Valerie’s sister came by, which gave me an opportunity to go out and get a late breakfast. When I returned, her other sister, that sister’s partner, and a long time family friend had all arrived. Valerie was in good spirits and her pain was well managed throughout the visit. V had started the day on fluids, but moved to solid food around lunch time. Another bonus of the day was the removal of Valerie’s A-line, one less needle sticking in her.

Another round of surgical visits included removing one of V’s three drains, and later converting the other to drains which had been paired into a single collection vessel to their own collectors. Valerie also shifted from IV-pain medication to oral meds (made possible by the shift to solid food), though even as late as half an hour ago she was still experiencing the itching side-effect of her last dose of IV-meds.

The hospital room itself is less than comfortable. There are many monitors buzzing and beeping throughout the ward, and several disoriented patients who keep crying out (one is shouting “Melissa” over and over again even as I type this). And the food… the food is as dull and inedible as you might imagine. Fortunately, when we had other people in the room, I was able to go out to some nearby downtown Philadelphia restaurants and pick up some of V’s favorites.

Tomorrow will see the removal of her catheter, and likely the remaining two drains from her chest. At that point we’ll re-evaluate her pain management and determine whether we’re heading home late tomorrow (unlikely) or staying one or more days into the weekend.

It’s been a long day, productive and positive but with too little sleep. Still, all the bad stuff is long behind us, and every hour is better than the one before. I leave you now with the acknowledgment that my wife and I continue to be truly blessed in every aspect of our lives, not least of which being the support of so many wonderful people. Thank you again, and good night.

Night falls upon us at Jefferson Hospital

No Comments » Written on September 7th, 2011 by
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At about 9pm, fully ten hours after leaving surgery, Valerie was finally moved into her room. She is now resting comfortably. Her spirits are good, and her post-operative pain-management is getting the job done.

I’ll be spending the night in her room (there’s a recliner that has seen better days, but it’s more than adequate to the current need). Our trusted house sitter is staying with the dogs back home.

Tomorrow will be the first full day of recovery, and we’ll see how it all goes. I’m sure it will be another very full day. For now though, good night, and again, thank you for your kindness and good wishes.

The surgeon came by…

No Comments » Written on September 7th, 2011 by
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Valerie is out of surgery and now in Recovery. Her surgeon came by and spoke with me at length. The surgery went well. The mass appears to have been completely self-contained, not impinging on heart, lungs, or anything else, and was easily removed from her body. Everything went quite smoothly, and a full recovery is expected.

Early opinions from experts in the lab (where they’d already taken a slice of the über-boober, frozen it, and taken a closer look) confirm that it was indeed a thymoma. A full and detailed report will take about a week.

At this point, the big issue is whether or not we’ll be able to get a private room (otherwise I apparently cannot stay overnight according to hospital policy), but that won’t be known until such time as Valerie is ready to be moved out of Recovery.

I am very relieved to be able to set aside all of my anxieties and the insane scenarios that my brain has been serving up for the past month.

Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes and anecdotes of your own hospital experiences. Likely I’ll have further updates as the day continues.

Now it can be told: V’s surgery

13 comments Written on September 7th, 2011 by
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Back in July, a chest x-ray revealed an unusual mass in Valerie’s chest. The doctor’s reaction was “what the heck is that? let’s run more tests.” And so a CAT-scan with contrast was performed, which yielded up another round of “what the heck is that?” All the more curious, because my wife hadn’t had any symptoms of any kind. Her health was (and continued to be) fine and dandy.

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Post Renovation – Day 1

No Comments » Written on August 22nd, 2011 by
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I left the worldcon behind just after my last panel (which was very enjoyable indeed, thank you very much). I’d been in Reno since the evening of the 12th, but Valerie, Adam, and Lesley came in on the following Wednesday (the 17th).

Anyway… we left the convention center a little after 3pm, hit a Wendy’s to fuel up on the way out of town (this may sound pedestrian, but after so many days of rich hotel food it was a welcome reprieve) and then headed off to Tahoe and the Resort at Squaw Creek. We checked in to our room, and then proceeded down to the pool area for soaking and relaxing. This was followed by drinks and dinner at the resort’s Six Peaks Grille where Valerie and I started our meal with a fabulous, perfectly seared, enormous foie gras with a maple pancake, sprinkled with huckleberries, finely minced walnuts, and topped with butterscotch caviar (courtesy of molecular gastronomy).

This morning I managed to sleep until 8am (note to folks following my tweets, this is a correction from an earlier tweet) and while my roomies slept I snuck down to the pool area and had it all to myself. I soaked in the jacuzzi, I floated in the pool, I soaked some more in the jacuzzi, I lay out in the morning sun and just relaxed.

Now everyone is awake and attired for the outside world. We’re heading off to breakfast. Post-con recovery continues. Catch you later!

Another Rite of Passage

10 comments Written on August 3rd, 2011 by
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A week ago I had my 52nd birthday. And some time in the past year I read through a copy of Fifty Things to Do When You Turn Fifty. One of the things on that list that I’d been putting off was a colonoscopy. So, last week, two years late, I met with the specialist and scheduled the procedure. That happened today, and I’m pleased to say it’s all, ahem, behind me now.

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