Tag Archives: Pulmonologist

Does a tumor mean Cancer? Part 3 of 4

Does a tumor mean Cancer?  Part 3 of 4

Glimpses of a patient’s life and the medical folks who helped save my life.  The University of Washington Medical Center(my lung doctor is here) and the Cancer Alliance of Seattle worked together to give me a life again.

One of the cheeriest technicians I have been around is right there at the University of Washington Medical Hospital.  Washington State first class teaching hospital.  The U – students and staff – alike is loaded with inquisitive, open minded, brilliant medical doctors teaching students to seek answers to patient’s medical woes.

Of the tremendous group of my tumor surgical medical team, this superb doctor stood out by his mention and appreciation of my first iPad covered Otter when he spotted it at my bedside table.  I appreciated his comments and conversation about a non-medical related product.  Btw… I think younger people are generally surprised many of us older folks appreciate and use new technology.

The view from my window was of one of my favorite bridges, the Montlake Bridge by the U. Beautiful views helped lessen the pain.

Need you ask?  This is without doubt the best-arranged toilet area of any I have had the privilege to know and love. The shower is just on the other side of the low wall.  The toilet was at a comfortable height and I let go of the walker, hung on to the low wall, and grasped the support bar on the other side.  I gently lowered myself and my new equipment onto the throne.

The day I was standing by the bathroom door when my incision opened and the blood flow began through the popped seal to the machine.  The bloody fluid flowed through the fingers I had pressed against the gaping open belly wound trying to hold stuff in where it belonged.   Instead, bloody fluid flooded the floor and formed running rivers downhill through my room.

The professionals who answered my call light moved swiftly to stem the bloody flow and no one raised a voice in alarm – not one.  I was immobilized in place hanging on to the pole with one hand and feeling the warm blood rush through the fingers of the other.  The warm blood flowed on down my legs while they quickly, quietly told me where to move.  They did their job with aplomb and took care of a horrified patient…like another normal day.  I had an incredible feeling of well-being in spite of the thought other belly parts and stuff might flow past my open fingers over the wound trying to hold back the blood flood.

Checkout day… the dried remains of one of the bloody flows remain under my soon to be vacated bed.

…Inhalers are important to lung patients.  The order we take them is also important.  I mention it here because my inhalers are rarely dispensed in proper order for the full benefit of my lungs.  Luckily, I know the right order to take them and do pass on that information.

I take Foradil first – a fast acting inhaler few nurses have heard of.  It is one of the best for me – opens my airway fast.  Spiriva is long lasting and second, while Qvar (inhaled steroid) is third.

Harrison Medical Center, University of Washington Medical, and  Martha and Mary in Poulsbo – none dispense Foradil…and I do not understand why.

I hope patients and med dispensing folks using other inhaler combinations see they are taken properly.

One nurse told me she did not know there is a proper order to taking inhalers.  Why not?   One possible answer…  If I were in the cancer area recovery, the nurses would be cancer oriented, not lung patient oriented for inhalers.

One of the terrific and friendly docs from my informative medical team.  Another super University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance doctor that I cannot name due to misplacing my notes/business cards.

 Kristin, physical therapist…

 

Meet Gretchen, one of the outstanding nurses I had and now, my discharge nurse.  She is putting together the little vac machine that will collect the fluid from the tube sealed inside the unstapled lower belly surgery site.  I will wear it day and night for the next few months…while Harrison Home Health nurses will change it out every three days, per doctor orders.

Gretchen showing how the vac – the entire devise works.

 

Gretchen read directions and showed me how to change the container when it got full of the bloody belly fluid.  I was told an alarm would sound first giving me plenty of time to take care of it.

…Goodbye Nurse Gretchen …another patient going home – another patient tomorrow.   Thanks for your care and kindness.

Thank God for nurses like you…and…your detailed instructions on the belly vac came in handy the very next evening at home.

I am very lucky.  They found no wingding blooming cancer – only some strange looking cells that bear watching every four months for a while.

Please understand – Kitsap County has first class cancer docs and treatment  – I’ve talked to enough cancer survivors to know it.

That said…My first and primary medical condition involves my lungs – COPD first and Sarcoidosis second.  I will not do any surgical procedure that involves anesthesia without my pulmonologist as part of the discussion as a consultant.  While Karen Eady, MD, is my wonderful primary doctor, right here in Kitsap County,  Christopher Goss, MD is my lung doc  at the U .   Thanks to you all!

Harrison Home Health.  Part 4 of 4,  next time.

Thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

Good-bye and thank you, Lisa Marie.  You’ve moved on to a  fabulous person and  forever home, and we’re grateful for the eight years we had with you.  Mom S

 

 

Oximeters Save Lives – Be Aware

The Oximeter can train the COPD patient to check our own blood/oxygen levels and to learn to trust our own body awareness.  That’s why I bought my own Oximeter some years ago.   I didn’t want to guess and needed to prove to myself that Pursed Lip Breathing (plb) really works.

It does work and the oximeter shows our sats rise as we plb.   Rehab teaches us to use the 1 – 10 level of awareness and it certainly works great for guessing pain level.  I don’t think it works as well guessing our blood/oxygen level.   I want to see those numbers rise back into the safe mode.  My oximeter actually once helped save my life on an airplane ride and I’ve told that story before.

Harrison Medical Center gave me a chart to use on my last hospital visit and discharge.  I liked it and began using it every morning to track my daily statistics.  It shows progress or lack of and I began to add a few other things to track including first thing in the morning oximeter reading, temperature and how long I slept.

Not all COPDers doctors use the Oximeter to check their patient blood/oxygen level and so the COPDer should track their own stats and take it to doctor appointments.  A daily record taken first thing in the morning is a far better record of the patients real stats compared to the moment in time measurements during a doctor office visit.  Maybe not… maybe a medical person would tell us.

I have no idea if this chart will be useful for the average doctor or not.  I’m seeing my pulmonologist this week and I’ll let you know what he thinks about it.

Heartfelt thanks to the Old Guy who formatted the chart so I could show it here.  I sometimes wonder if he would have stopped to offer water in his Sierra Cup to the strange blonde who smoked when she finally stumbled into the first rest stop on the Olympic College Mountaineering Class climb on Mount Washington going on forty years ago had he known what was ahead.   I’ll never ask.

My oximeter has gone through three batteries in the years I’ve had it…seven or so years and was calibrated at Harrison Medical Center about the same time.

These are the tools I use…  they can be calibrated on a doctor’s visit.

More later…thanks for listening… Sharon O’Hara

The University of Washington Rocks!

The University of Washington is a God send to us. I wrote the following in answer to a letter to the editor and decided to add it here as well.

“The University of Washington ‘elitist’? If ‘elitist’ means dedicated fine professors teaching a subject they they live their work. They teach what they are passionate about to kids eager to learn.

It was the University of Washington’s Medical Center Specialties and Dr. Raghu specifically with then, Super Fellow, Christopher Goss, who gave me an open lung biopsy and found the granulomas and fibrosis in my lungs to prove Sarcoidosis added to emphysema (COPD)

When I had a sudden loss of ability to breathe, the local pulmonologist just handed me a steroid inhaler to add to the others he had prescribed and I was on my way out the door.

Mom’s worry. My mother worried that her daughter all of a sudden lost even more ability to breath and nothing was being done. She strongly pushed for me to get evaluated through the U or the Mayo Clinic. We needed to know.

I went to the U. The following letter is a direct quote from a Thank you card I have written out but forgot to leave there last week after my appointment.

Dr. Raghu -
Dr. Goss -

“Thanks for all you do for us now and in future to make the next generation of lung patients fewer, I hope, living quality lives.
When I first came here I never expected to live out the year much less be here years later and looking at tomorrow.”

The doctors at the U are open minded, they look and think about the entire body, not just lungs. Had I not gone there, I would not be sitting here now.
Their doctors are open minded and actually THINK. They treat their patients like partners in their own care and work together.

The old type doc and his “I Tarzan, You Jane’ mentality is over. Patients have a right to be involved and understand what is going on and what they can do to help themselves.

The University of Washington offers stellar, quality, educated medical people and professors. Who wouldn’t want the best training available?

That said, my own primary care doctor, Dr. Eady, is right here in town. If she ever moved I’d have to move too…same with my pulmonologist at the U. They, and others, are examples of medical care and caring not easily found these days.

I haven’t even touched on the superb Nursing Program at the U…in fact they lead THE COUNTRY…ask US News and World Reports…they are #1.

Is this what you call ‘elitist?

University of Washington – you rock!

Read more: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/jun/09/my-turn-is-university-of-washington-only-for-the/?comments_id=233309#ixzz0qyxBonTy

COPD is Scream Worthy according to a Kitsap Sun Blogger.

COPD and Other Stuff …
…came about for several reasons…because people do not seem to know much about COPD, this disease seems to attract friends in the form of other diseases for the COPDer and the Kitsap Sun is willing to allow this shared adventure.
COPD is not a death sentence but it sure is a wake-up call.
I have a theory that the more informed we become about our condition and the more active we are in our own care, the better off we are. Our doctors are trained in medicine and indispensable but the responsibility for our life is ours.
There are a million things I want to say but for this first post, I am using a copy of a letter in part, I sent to my daughter when she told me that good friends had serious Emphysema hit their family.
“I’m sorry, but if they get on the right track from the beginning,(friend)may not go on to develop other ‘Stuff’.’

For starters:

Has (friend’s husband) Pulmonologist described the healing his lungs will do – the improving – for the first six months to a year after he stops smoking?

My doctor drew a graph showing the approximate lung improvement over months until the lungs have dispelled the last of the sticky smoke residue and healed until they are as good as they are going to get. His lungs will then continue normal aging.

The wonder though is that he, with full knowledge of his damaged lungs, will not be further destroying his lungs by continuing to smoke…like kicking a sick horse and adding insult to injury.

Today the idea of actually inhaling the foul smoke into my laboring lungs is noxious.

Another aid to stop smoking is for (friend) to visualize his impaired lungs and imagine inhaling the smoke into a distressed airway and down through his sick lungs. Yick!

Also, tell him to keep fighting to be the best he can be. THAT fight includes EXERCISE for a quality life. Tell (friend) not to give up and accept a role as an invalid…NEVER! (Some of the most invalid people I know have not got a thing medically wrong with them)

Tell (friend) (state) has a good teaching hospital she might want to run (husband) through for a second opinion.
(His) Primary Doctor is the key…the hub of the health wheel.

(State) also has the BEST Pulmonary Rehab Center in the whole country – right there.

That is enough for starters.

Life is not over for (husband and new caregiver, his wife)…far from it.
They are on an adventure of their lives and do not kid yourself.
Any disease that affects one member of a family affects ALL members of that family.”

Together, here, I hope we can help each other and others share hard-earned information about COPD and Other Stuff.
My comments are mine as a patient and in no way reflect medical advice. For medical advice, talk to your doctor.
Together I hope we can communicate and narrow the distance between the physician, patient and caregiver.
As Yvonne says, “We are in this together.”
Sharon Blomlie O’Hara