18 Feb, 11

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Been waiting in the hospital for the last couple of hours to check out.  Correct terminology would be to receive “discharge” papers.

It was a relatively uncomfortable night half sleeping.  The new plastic thing poked in my neck hole was not comfortable and felt like it was pushing into the neck.  But I had to balance that with the fact that this thing was capped and I didn’t need to suck mucus through the neck hole with the suction tube (while coughing).  Kind of a huge tradeoff.  Still, the new outfit felt like it was jabbing me in the neck.

The big thing that worried me was eating.  Or rather swallowing.  I can’t leave the hospital with a feeding tube running through my nose and I can’t leave without the ability to eat.  I had them take out the feeding tube last evening — a quick snip of the suture in the nostril and it was yanked out from my stomach.  I thought I’d be able to swallow better after that.

One thing is swallowing one’s own saliva.  Another is swallowing substance, even water.  My tongue is so swollen that even a teaspoon of water seems to be a challenge to get down.  So dinner arrives from the hospital (all liquid) at about the same time GV arrives from home bringing broth.  I had trouble with everything.  Just in case, I dumped the broth and other liquids from the hospital down the drain in case they wanted to check my success with eating.  No way am I staying longer.  They told me that if I can’t eat, they’d have to put another tube down my nose.  I told them that would not happen unless they tied me down.

The evidence is prepared that I ate well even though no one checked.  The other measure is whether I get through the night with the cap on the new trachea tube.  If I take it off, it means that there is still a breathing issue.  I sure as hell didn’t take it off.  Nor do I want to have a problem at home over the weekend.  So when one of the doc fellows comes in early this morning, stops by my room about 6:30 am to verify if I’ve had my cap on all night, which I proudly did,  he immediately takes out the plastic tracheas contraption and tapes a bandage over the hole.  It will close on it’s own, he says.

And I was just thinking about the anxiousness of getting the thing pulled and poof.  In comes someone and pulls it out.  That’s it.  He says he wants to see how I do with breakfast.  If I can swallow I can go home.

Since I had a large private room with a pullout bed, GV stayed.  Before my hospital breakfast came, she ran out to Starbucks for a coffee and coffee cake so that we could break bread together.  Breakfast was rather tasty, although it was very slow going — still all liquid.  Swallowing was not easy at all.  Neither was holding anything in the mouth for too long.  Breakfast (the edible part) was some kind of watery cream of something, chicken broth, yogurt, orange jello and tea.  I done real good.  The only things I didn’t down were the ginger ale, orange juice and apple juice.

The doc popped back in to check in on my breakfast and I very proudly told him it was consumed.  This time no dumping required.  He said I could go.  That was around 9 am.  It’s now after 11 am and I’m going out to hunt people down so I can get a move on.

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It’s later Friday afternoon and it’s so nice to be at home again.  This chest hole is a challenge because to talk, I’ve to to press in on the bandage.  To cough, same thing.  I don’t want to do either with lots of frequency because it slows down the hole closing, i.e, healing process.  They tell me the hole takes a couple to a few days to close.

Before leaving the original surgeon comes in to answer a few questions for me before I head home.  The most important news he has for me is that the pathology report shows that the lymph nodes he extracted during the neck dissection were non-cancerous.  Great news.  So, the CAT scan showed a small mass on lymph node number 3 on left which is where the ball appeared on my neck last year.  This mass was the reason for the operation.  Evidently I responded well to the external beam radiation and what was left was some kind of scar tissue.  So I tell him, wow, now I have this seven inch scar for nothing.  We really didn’t need to do this.  He tells me we did as there was no other way of knowing, and now we know.

OK, now I know for sure.  But really, if all of this wasn’t enough, and still isn’t enough, the foot (feet) problem I developed in the hospital has me walking like a cripple.  I can’t put any weight on the back half of the left foot, so the walk home was all on the ball of the left foot, meanwhile the right started hurting as well.  Now, in my apartment walking around I’m like a half invalid.  What a pisser.  I’ve never had problems with my feet.

During the hospital stay I was very insistent with them about discovering the reason for this pain.  They x-rayed my foot, did a sonogram on my legs to make sure there were no clots, orthopedics came to look at me.  No one had a clue.  Except that now my feet are swelled on the bottom and it hurts like hell to walk.

I have absolutely no medical background for which to say this, but my theory is that bodies react differently to things taken out of them.  The surgeon who does neck dissections all week every week for years has never had anyone with a foot problem.  I could be all wet, but I think that this body, the one I’m in, is reacting to those lymph nodes that were yanked out.  Those lymph nodes were doing their job.  They didn’t really need to come out.  Now, there is an internal struggle that is affecting the soft part of my feet.

Whatever.  Another thing to grit my teeth about while I’m back to eating baby food.  Hopefully this recovery will be much quicker than before, although they tell me in about three months I’ll be very close to my old self.

Next step is going back the following week to get all stitches pulled out.  Between my neck and stomach, must be 40 or so.  Guess that’s not many.   Meantime, I need to keep the taking and coughing to a minimum and get this lovely throat hole closed.

8 thoughts on “18 Feb, 11

  1. Mother

    You are on to something. The natural flow in you body was interrupted. Also, and I cannot say this more strongly: see your Internal Medicine Doc. who will consider you
    whole body including your feet.

    Reply
  2. Meredith, daughter of David

    Love you Fred. So glad you’re home! As Dory says, “just keep swimming” (if you haven’t seen Finding Nemo, it’s worth the rental). You’re doing great man. How’s the chin swelling?

    Reply
  3. Stryker Warren jr.

    Fred: Delighted you are at home with GV; and, especially impressed by your mischievious disposal of food trays down-the-drain. . . hoping the healing process begins in earnest and that your feet ressolve quickly. Thankfully you are a well-tuned athlete with a prescriptive approach to diet, exercise, meditation, and rest. All the best Fred.

    Reply
  4. Stryker Warren jr.

    Fred: I wonder if the lymphatic surgery is the culprit re: periphehral edema. Keep your feet significantly elevated, with pressure hose on should you have any compression stockings. Your friend, Dr. Quack

    Reply
    1. Freddie Spaghetti Post author

      Dr. Quack. Yes, I think the sore feet and left calf is absolutely related to the lymphatic surgery. Not sure if the culprit is edema or edamame but there’s got to be a connection. The lymphatic system is a beautiful thing, not sure why they would have yanked perfectly good nodes in the name of “just being sure.” Too late to look back but do much appreciate your suggestion. Right now I’m in a reverse lotus position with my feet over my head watching a horror movie.

      Reply

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