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Does a tumor mean Cancer – Part 2

Christopher Hooper Goss, MD, UWMC is my lung doctor at the University of Washington and was part of the team preparation for my operation.  It was clear to me that this operation was mandatory.  The huge and growing tumor was killing me and it might be cancerous.

I could and did live with the bone on bone left hip problem.  A hip operation is not mandatory.

The growing tumor I hadn’t known about was choking the life out of me.  Quality of life had turned into an existence – an existence squeezed with the tumor that filled my belly.  As a lung patient, I believe the best chance for a good outcome requires my lung doctor involvement.  Luckily, wonderful surgeon and Assistant Professor, University of Washington Medical Center Dr. Urban and her team agreed.

I know Kitsap County has wonderful cancer doctors and professionals.  I have been told by survivors and written about them.

In my patient point of view, however – my lung diseases were primary and meant that my best chance for survival and a good result – was including Dr. Goss, my lung doctor with the operating team.  I believed then and now that his involvement was vital to my waking up after the operation.

Christopher H. Goss, MD and Sherryl Davey, Medical Specialties Center, Scheduling/Appointments UW Medicine

The aftercare machine was large and the University of Washington Medical Hospital nurses regularly changed out the container holding the fluid.  My camera was usually ready whenever I heard the ‘okay, shoot’ from the nurse or technician.

The machine’s tube stuck in my belly pumping the excess fluid away.

To come home the ACTI  V. A. C.  is the device that let me come home after six days at the University Hospital and into the capable hands of the Harrison Home Health Care folks.  Otherwise, I was willing to learn the wet to dry method of wound care and do it myself.

The University of Washington Docs and nurses were universal in their patient interest and I enjoyed listening to the different ideas flow until there was a consensus for treatment.

I have misplaced most of the business cards I had asked for – including for this photo.  The girl here was extraordinary in her care and helpfulness.  Interesting too, she is a shop steward for the local union – a bright girl.

 

I write this blog for reasons I have stated many times before.  As hard as it is sometimes I have to tell the whole story or I cannot write about them at all.

The fact is there were too many times I had to pull myself into the doorway of my room out to the hall to find someone to help me.  It was hard not to notice all the folks at the end of the hall doing nothing but talking together ignoring the light I had on – time after time.

I progressed quickly into pulling myself and whatever I was attached to into the bathroom.  I could not wait long enough for the light to get someone there to help me and remember feeling surprised that the aides at Harrison are incredible in their zeal to help patients while the U aide folks were different.  Most of the aides I encountered at the U were just the opposite.

One person told me “If you don’t trust me, I can’t help you.”  He wanted me to let go of the bed and hang on to him while he lifted me into the bed. (A rule of thumb…a patient needs to be able to get into and out of the bed before they can go home)  At that point, another person had helped me discover I could get into bed using the other side of the bed and just needed help lifting my legs up at the same time to lessen the left hip pain.

Trouble is, if he dropped me, I was the one to get hurt not him. I could not do it.  Patients need to do for themselves as quickly as possible to heal quickly.   Often times, after a while, a nurse answered my call light…not their job – but I’m grateful they did.   Incidentally, I rarely called for help.

Truth be told, had those folks worked for me, I would have fired every one that refused to do their job and hire folks with empathy and concern for the patient – such as the aides at Harrison.

On the other hand – the flip side of this coin – if wanting to do things for myself makes me a difficult patient…?  I hope not.

This person was wonderful in her care.  The plastic is part of the machine that steadily drew the excess fluid and blood out of my belly.

My left leg was still healing from Lymphedema and traces of the recent bloody waterfall show on my upper legs.  The machine had apparently lost its suction when I strained in the bathroom.

When I stood up and moved, the backed up fluid burst like a waterfall through the opening in my belly.  My hands tried to help the wound close and stem the tide but the bloody fluid burst like a waterfall through my fingers and formed little rivers over the floor.

 

The portable machine had arrived and the plan was for me to go home the next day.  However, after the bloody waterfall I wouldn’t leave until I knew it would stay in and so I stayed one extra day.   The doctors, nurses and many of the staff are extraordinary, fun caregiver professionals but I wasn’t comfortable about leaving.   The next series of photos show the machine connected in the opening below my staples.

Seeing the gloves go on, I knew the suction tube was ready to be inserted into my belly and the machine turned on.

The tidy row of staples above the opening to be soon filled with the black sponge and suction tube.

Measuring the opening width

…and depth

The black sponge is cut to size and placed inside the open wound with an empty clear tube inside to gather the fluid and run it into a small reservoir on the side of the machine.

The black sponge is inside the wound.

The tube is inside and the plastic type sheet, cut to size will help seal the opening

All finished, the tube and little machine and I were new best friends and almost ready to go home.

More later – Part 3 of 4 next time.

Thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

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