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  • I have a small (1.8 cm x 0.8 cm) tumor in the upper lobe of my left lung.
  • I'm having the tumor removed on Wed., 2009/05/13.
  • I don't know whether the tumor is malignant or benign, and won't until I awaken after the surgery.
  • Even if the tumor is malignant, my MDs don't think that this is a really big deal, based on the info they now have. Then again, it's not their tumor.
Those are the headlines, here are the rumors behind the news:

On around March 22nd, I came down with a nasty chest cold. As my lung capacity is ordinarily about 67% of normal (the reason I've mostly disappeared since early 2004, and a long, sad story for another time), I felt like the discharge from Beelzebub's nether orifice.

By April 3rd I was no better, so I saw the doctor. She figured it was bronchitis, wrote me a Rx for antibiotics, and told me to get some chest x-rays.

I goofed off, and finally got the x-rays taken April 8th. The next day the doc called me to say that I was to get a CT scan of my chest, as there was a spot on my left lung.

The anomaly on the April 9th CT scan caused the internist who'd been handling my case until now to a) tell me to get a PET scan and b) (quite rightly) dump the whole mess into my pulmonolgist's lap.

After I had the PET scan, my lung doc ("Dr. K") called to say that he'd consulted with colleagues, and that the consensus was that there was a tumor, and that it had to come out.

There are several varieties of lung cancer, "small cell carcinoma" being the nastiest - grows fast, metastasises like crazy, and will kill you of seemingly paradoxical things like "lung cancer of the brain". Fortunately, on the PET scan the tumor didn't "light up like a Christmas tree", so nobody thinks I have that kind of tumor. In fact, the tumor might even be benign; unlikely though, as it's in the part of the lung that's most damaged by emphysema.

Doctor K referred me to a surgeon ("Dr. H"). I saw him and so far I like him. Here's our agenda for May 13th:
  • I show up at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. Dr. H says "hi" and introduces me to my Special Guest Anesthesiologist, who proceeds to sedate me, paralyze me, make me unconscious and impervious to pain, and make sure I don't croak on the table.
  • Dr. H cuts a reasonably small hole in my left side under the arm, and shoves a thoracoscope into me (like a laparoscope, only bigger).
  • He hacks the tumor and a kiwi fruit-sized piece of surrounding lung tissue out, dumps it on a tray, and sends it to the pathology lab, where they study the I Ching to reach a diagnosis of the tumor.
  • While awaiting the decision from the Oracles ("To hell with owl entrails - let's go right to the source! We'll auger the patient himself for our augury!"), Dr. H will "poke around" (his words) inside me to see if anything else looks amiss.
  • Upon getting word from the lab, Dr. H will either sew me up, leaving a drainage tube sticking from me, or slice a much bigger hole in my chest, insert the rib spreaders, and use a ginsu knife and an ice cream scoop to excise the entire upper lobe of the lung. I suppose I'd get sewn up after that, too.

Dr. H doesn't expect to have to go with Plan B, as he's in agreement with Dr. K as to what they're most likely to find in my chest. Depending on the pathology report, I may have to undergo chemotherapy; the docs say I may well avoid it.

If all goes well, I'll spend a total of two days in the hospital. I then go home, become a grouch, bitch, piss, moan, whine, kvetch, complain, fress, whinge, snivel, want to hurt people but be too weak and wracked with pain to do so, and generally entertain my family, who will be so glad to have me back. I should feel really lousy for a couple of weeks and then slowly return to the miserable physical condition that is my life.

This just in: When I saw the surgeon, he did a routine EKG. Got a call a couple of days later, saying that there were differences between that EKG and the last one I had on record from 2007. He wants me to have yet another EKG. The soonest that I could schedule one to be done and read by my cardiologist is the day before the scheduled operation. I love a mystery.

So there ya go. You know what I do, and if you want to tell anyone about what's going on with me, you have this handy fact sheet. Kathy will keep you up to date via this, as in my very own, the one you're looking at right now, live journal. Cards and letters are appreciated, and if anyone is familiar with Alice B. Toklas and likes to bake, I simply adore brownies.


( 38 comments — Rap On, Sibling, Rap On )
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May. 7th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
Well, that's quite a set of facts and rumors. Thanks for the info & 4-part harmony. Here's hoping that a sufficient quantity of mighty fine painkillers accompany the rest of whatever they end up doing.

I have a friend who has gone through this sort of thing twice -- the first time was a little bit, the second was a larger chunk o'lobe. No chemo either time, so it's not impossible that your docs are right about maybe avoiding it. Fingers crossed for that, and for clarity on the EKG front, too.

Love you!
May. 7th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)

I never know what to day about now. This will have to do for a card and/or a letter.

To cheer you up, however slightly: Much of the reason your prognosis is good is because of the US Space Program, the most successful endeavor in human history. And you, as a science fiction reader, helped it happen, if by no other means than will power.
May. 7th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Will Power?

Golly! There's a name from the past! I remember flopping on the floor every Sunday afternoon in front of Grandma Berlien's 1930s Zenith four-foot-tall art deco radio -- which, for some odd reason, only played 1930s radio shows -- to hear how Will and his gorgeous, brilliant, mysterious, inscrutable, transvestite Asian sidekick, Yoo Kum Soon, were going to evade the nefarious Process Server (or his almost-as-nefarious hentgesman, Peter -- some called him "Rocky") this week.

I saved up my cereal box tops and delivered them to Kellogg's (by hand; I lived in Battle Creek), along with a dime and a note requesting my very own Will Power Secret Encoder Ring, guaranteed to encrypt Top-Secret Messages so well that nobody would ever understand them. Nobody at Kellogg's seemed to recall such an offer, but they were kind enough to return my 10 cents shipping and handling fee. Dad finally found one in a junk shop, but it was broken and would only decrypt Top-Secret Messages so that just anyone could understand them. The incident upset me, and I believe that it was the aegis of my eventual turn to nihilistic atheism.

But hey, Thanks Loads for the trip through Nostalgialand! I had successfully repressed lost those unsettling dear childhood memories, and now I'll be haunted and tortured by carry them with me fondly for the rest of my life.
(no subject) - apostle_of_eris - May. 10th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bibliofile - May. 11th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dr_whuh - May. 11th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bibliofile - May. 12th, 2009 07:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - doclnghair - May. 12th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 7th, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)
Best Wishes!
And a speedy recovery.
May. 7th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
I wish you the best possible outcome!
May. 7th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Intrigue is one word do describe my interest in knowing what's happening.

For the record as you already know lung problems of any sort suck. As do tumors benign or not they have some nerve.

I hope all goes well, the tumor is benign and you make a speedy recovering.
May. 7th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
I thank you all whole-heartedly, as well as partially-lungedly, for your kind wishes. It's good to hear from the family.

Edited at 2009-05-09 10:30 pm (UTC)
May. 7th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, my dear! Hugs and love and health to you! We'll be Away that week, but probably on line, assuming they have the Internet in Poland.


May. 7th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
"...assuming they have the Internet in Poland."

Nah -- just way too easy. I'll leave that one to the amateurs.
(no subject) - minnehaha - May. 7th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dr_whuh - May. 9th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 7th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I hope everything goes all right; the odds are that they will.
May. 9th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
One of the things I thought while writing this was, "Honnesstagosh, I'm not trying to one-up Marilee!"

Edited at 2009-05-09 07:05 pm (UTC)
May. 7th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Good luck. I hope the tumor is benign. Even a benign tumor is a pain, though. I hope you come through it all with flying colors.
May. 9th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
We have a saying around our house: "Pain hurts."
May. 8th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
You, sir, are being far too interesting. Please to make your life dull, routine, and free of excess surgeries or therapies at your earliest possible convenience.
May. 9th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
You're right. Actually, there's no fun in it anymore. All of the nurses and therapists these days have names like "Harold" or "Rocco", with stubble to match.
(no subject) - maruad - May. 10th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dr_whuh - May. 10th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 9th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
I'm just glad there's not hamburger all over the highways . . .

Anesthesiology : Atul Gawande, in one of his books, relates an interesting bit of history about anesthesia—seems that until … the last 10–20 years? … anesthesiologists and the two major manufacturers of the equipment had never put their heads together to agree on whether the valves should open clockwise or widdershins. That had only caused a small, small number of … incidents … over the years, but nowadays that particular risk factor has been entirely eliminated. Ain't that good news?

I then go home, become a grouch… "…and that's why they're so mean…."

I love a mystery. Me too! I'm a big fan of Rex Stout.

See you on the funway!

May. 9th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm just glad there's not hamburger all over the highways . . .
And here I thought they were just indulging me by letting me help with my appendectomy....
May. 9th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
I object
I have a lack of access to certain ingredients in those brownies. How do you feel about brownies without all the herbage?:)

I hope this turns out to be as exciting as this gets and you have a nice swift recovery. Also could you email me your snail mail address? My email address is the same name as here at gmail.
May. 9th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
Re: I object
I love all sorts of Brownies -- and Girl Scouts, too.

E- & snail-addies on the way under separate cover.

May. 9th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
I am torn by the horror which you are going through and humour with which you present the problem. I hope all goes well.
May. 9th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Humor? Humour? (Forgot to write it in Canuck, so's you could unnerstand it; and to think that I'm Conkell Canada on Mom's er, Mum's side.... Sorry.)

My current nuclear family carries on a tradition garnered from froum the one into which I was born bourn:

When tragedy strikes, the first response shall be to find out what's funny about it.

This has worked exceptionally well over the years; someday I'll tell y'all the story of my grabbing my then-recently -- like fifteen minutes -- deceased mother's dentures, so that she wouldn't choke on them.

My sincere thanks to you -- and again, everyone else -- for your yor kind wishes.

Edited at 2009-05-09 08:14 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
Well, the very best wishes, and all, with the modest hope that they'd already been taken for granted.

A little while back, I acquired the line, “You’ll never be this young again.” At our stages of life, though, it's begun to feel distinctly double-edged. I've added You'll never have this few prescriptions again, and now you remind me to add, You'll never have this few specialists again. I have a personal exception, since I discarded a then-perennial prescription when the subject organ was removed -- a loophole with nothing whatsoever to recommend it.

For good and sufficient reason (below), I must correct a common misconception you've repeated. "Alice B. Toklas Brownies" are not brownies, nor do they have anything to do with Alice B. Toklas.
When her cookbook was severely overdue at the publisher's, and only half done (and how many more anecdotes begin like that!), she added a "Recipes from friends" chapter. One of the friends was Brion Gysin, one of the great under appreciated super connectors, who, for a joke, sent a recipe for the North African confection majoun. By accident, it was actually inserted into the British edition of the book . . . The two reasons I'm so pedantic about it here are, first, Brion Gysin really ought to be better known, and, second, the recipe itself is a piece of prose which ought to be better known:

Haschich Fudge
(which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)
This is the food of paradise -- of Baudelaire's Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies' Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by "un e'venouissement reveille'."
Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.
Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognized, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.
May. 10th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
“un évenouissement reveillé”
May. 11th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
Dude that is so like...and then like...and you know it's just...like...gah, you know?



So you know we're thinking of you.

And you'll never guess who we bumped into today.
May. 11th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
Conrad Adenauer?
(no subject) - doclnghair - May. 12th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 38 comments — Rap On, Sibling, Rap On )