17 Feb, 11

It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting out of the h’pital sooner than I planned, but at least as planned.  The worst part is over–the pulling out of the wires.  Dr. Rad says sometimes there is aggressive bleeding at this part, which is why two doctors and a nurse were there.  This is all done in my room.  They also pumped up the inflatable whatever it is in my throat which is part of the trachea tube so that nothing could errantly go down the breathing tube.

Last evening the Fellow came by promptly at 9 pm to take out the radiation inserts out of the tube.  She is here from Canada on a one year fellowship and a few months away from completing her term.  There is no one in Canada that does Brachytherapy for base of tongue.  Her plan is to be the first.  She was very good and sensitive while yanking on the wires. Anyway, all that goes smooth, she take out the radiation, then takes radiation readings of me and the room to make sure she’s got it all.

The wire tube pulling this morning was weird for sure.  Feeling the wire tube being pulled from the underside of the chin, over the tongue and back out is not a pretty sensation.  But luckily, there was no bleeding nor complications and it ended up a relatively quick ordeal.

Last night at about one am there was a concerning 10 minutes or so as I was sucking mucus out of the trachea hole and coughing, all of a sudden it was very hard to breath.  I could feel something blocking the hole, but could get at it.  When this happened in the past, taking out the trachea insert helped, but not this time.  Ringing for help brought in the Russian male nurse I’ve been luckily enough to have on duty for the last three nights.  Very knowledgable in his duties and a pleasant personality made him comfortable to rely on.  After several tries himself with the suctioning tube and some liquid that make you cough strong, a hardened ball of mucus shot out the hole in my neck and across the room.  Immediate relief.   Since I still hadn’t been able to sleep, I asked for some pain medication (first since surgery).  He gladly brought by and injected some morphine into my IV.  Finally sleep came in a hot and uncomfortable environment.

And, just about one hour ago, they took off the bandage from the neck dissection and more important, changed the type of trachea tube to one that can be capped.  What does this do?  It let’s me talk.  It also tests whether I’ll be able to breath normally again so with this temporary rig, I’ll remain overnight to make sure all is ok before being released tomorrow morning.

They were going to pull out the feeding tube through the nose, but since my tongue is so swollen, I asked them to keep it in and check back tonight.  The tongue is much fatter than normal from the trauma.  Sitting in the mouth with the mouth closed means it is squeezed in between the teeth.   When sticking the tongue out, the teeth marks on the tongue are clear evidence that its normal home space is smaller than it now deserves.  For this reason, I don’t think I can drink anything just yet.  GV was gracious to go home to make some broth to try later.

If everything is OK tomorrow morning first thing, the plan is to take out the trachea contraption they put in today, patch over the hole and send me home.  So today was a relatively big day.  It looks like I’m right on schedule.  Since I arrived on Friday the 11th, each day has been divided into two twelve hour segments.  I had planned on 15 segments counting the progress along the way.  Right now I’m in segment 14 of 15, so before segment 15 ends I really hope to be shy of here.  Then the second phase of this 2011 process begins, and another map of segments.

5 thoughts on “17 Feb, 11

  1. Elizabeth

    One step (or segment) at a time! Glad to hear you are almost all the way disconnected from hospital tubes and wires. Soon you’ll be home smelling the broth GV cooks up!

  2. JA

    you sound in great spirits and it’s great to hear. onward and upward. way impressive that you did all of this (prior to last night and for sleep purposes) without pain meds – – in the words of Stryker – WARRIOR. What p factor?
    Love you and look forward to hearing how discharge and being home in the comfort goes. May you continue to keep your chin up in this incredible challenging journey. xo

  3. Sister Lynda

    I am so happy to hear you had both a knowldegable & compassionate person at your side through that ordeal. I wish I could take on some of your pain and agony to myself so it would not be so heavy on just you.
    I love you Steve – Know That You Have What It Takes !!!

  4. Meredith, daughter of David

    You rock, Freddo. Healing and de-swelling are just around the corner. Time to get wrapped up in the goodness of GV. You’ll be on the active roster soon.


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