Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 2 : The day before Surgery!

So this morning I woke up feeling much better. I ended up only taking 1 of the hardcore sleeping pills but that combined with the “rest and relax” Ipad app and lots of camomile tea really did the trick. Connie left the hospital bed in the morning to sleep some more in her dorm which is totally understandable (the nurses wake my ass up early every day). I slept for about 7 hours which is GREAT for me.

Morning - The Bike Test

At 9AM I had to do a cardio/lung capacity bike test. They stuck a bunch of electrodes on me and had me put on some kind of a mask which is hooked up to a computer that reads the amount of air that comes out of my nose and mouth. They were also monitoring my blood pressure changes during the stationary ride. As I was peddling the nurse was increasing the resistance until I started feeling tired (my legs became tired long before my lungs, I have been running almost daily at the hotel gym in Dresden so that helped). While I was sweating on the bike this other nurse was trying to take more blood/tissue samples from my right ear ( just like yesterday). It took her many tries since my earlobes are big and difficult to work with. This was the most painful part so far, it’s kinda like when a nurse can’t find a vein when taking blood and ends up piercing like 8 holes in your arm (which happened to me during an older physical exam years ago).
They were impressed by the amount of sweat I generated within the 10 minutes but that caused the burning fluid they put on my ear to drip all over my shoulder and arm (which burned for a while afterwards). I was kinda annoyed at the nurses afterwards but I learned long ago that most people do not sweat like I do (Cryder called my body’s cooling mechanism very efficient when we used to work out together).

11AM - Learning how to use the Lung Rehab Devices

A different nurse came into my room and gave me 2 plastic bags with more epic snorkel looking stuff in it.  The first bag had a portable lung capacity tester in it. This is mainly used to track my lung rehab progress after the surgery. Since my right lung is going to be collapsed after the surgery I can use this to see how much air I can hold.
The other bag is an attachment to a machine in the hallway which pumps air into your lungs causing them to expand automatically. It’s like an air compressor with a personal tube attachment. I used it a few times and it’s kinda relaxing (it does the breathing for you and theres a little blow off valve that exhales the air automatically when your lung hits its limit). They told me the more I use this thing, the quicker my lung will return to its normal size.
LASTLY for lung rehab I have to go to this special room ( looks like a row of small personal phone booths) every 3 hours to breath through these vaporizers for 10 minutes at a time ( damn, no THC options available says one of the Anesthesiologists ). BTW after telling at least 8 doctors from different hospitals about my nightly vaporization of marijuana not a single one cared and a few didn’t even classify it as a drug. The drugs they cared about was the crap the pharmaceutical companies make that kill a small/moderate percent of their users ( hmm, but natural remedies that can easily be grown by the individual don’t make billions of dollars!).

Early Afternoon - Evaluation of my CT scan with Dr. Rolle

Dr. Rolle visited my room and wanted to show us my CT scans.. He told us that there are still more than 100 tiny tumors between both my lungs. With his laser tech he has removed more than 50 at a time with past ASPS patients, not like there are many patients to compare since I am the number 10 ASPS patient in 16 years, but the past surviving patients have had hundreds of tumors removed.
The good but expected news is that my lung tumors have barely changed since my last CT scan in May. The fact that he couldn’t see obvious growth is a great thing but he said that’s normal once the primary tumor is gone (the main hatchery that Dr. Eilber removed in Jan/February). He also said the tumors are not always predictable, it could go from not growing at all for 3-6 months to growing and zerg rushing other parts of my lungs so I have to keep track of the growth once I get back to the US.
Dr. Rolle explained to me that the people that have died from ASPS have consistently not kept track of their tumor growth, thinking that it was “cured” or relying completely on standard cancer treatments (chemo, radiation, alternative medicine) then waiting too long. He had to deny a few patients because the tumors were too large which made the lung unresectable. I know this cancer can be as stubborn as I am (since they are little evil versions of myself ). So in order to live past 7 years I have to really do a shotgun treatment approach (lots of surgeries, an aggressive anticancer diet, alternative eastern medicines and lots of green tea). Luckily I caught it early enough to actually have a chance. My situation might have not as been as bad if I would have been more responsible about taking care of my chest tumor early and actually eating more vegetables than tomatoes in hamburgers and pizza ( or starving myself which is equally as bad).
I will have to warn all of my friends early that I will probably treat and preach health like a religion from here on out ( and probably be a big bitch about it). I am one of the youngest patients in this hospital and there are a ton of older lung cancer/breast cancer patients. Dr. Rolle also told me on Monday that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that lots of smoking and drinking cause cancer but most people ignore the research. My attitude about dying early changed. Dying a quick and painless death is easy, but dealing with cancer as an old person with a weak body? That is going to be much worse than a quick death for many people. Anyways, that’s enough of my preachy talk, on to my little scare of the day!

Mid-afternoon - Heart tests

When the results of my blood pressure/bike test came in the doctors were concerned since my blood pressure actually went down as I over exerted myself on the bike. They said commonly your blood pressure should be consistently going up as you tire yourself out, but mine actually went down. I became super worried. I thought to myself  “ wtf really? Is this going to get worse already? Did the cancer spread to my heart and is going to make my lungs inoperable?” Luckily that was not the case. They did an ultrasound heart test for about 20-30 minutes which showed that my heart was totally okay. I was relieved and really happy afterwards. I am still glowing from the news of my heart being normal and healthy. I then wondered if that would be a good manipulation technique into getting the patient to feel happy before a major surgery, CUZ IT FUCKING WORKS.

Later afternoon - Meeting the Anesthesiologist & Signing lots of Papers

After the Dr. Rolle said my heart was okay he explained tomorrows procedure to me.
He is going to slice open my right side (under the armpit and down) and burn off (using a laser system that HE FUCKING INVENTED) as many metastasized tumors in my right lung that he can see. Yea.. there is something comforting about being operated on by a doctor that invents his own tech. Afterwards I signed lots of papers after he explained everything.
Next I met Mrs. Hoffman, one the Anesthesiologists. She gave me the rundown on the general anesthesia procedure and the epidural which will be inserted into my mid-upper spine. Yea it sounds bad but it’s apparently the best form of pain relief since it essentially turns off your nerves in a large area. I think of my body as an organic machine more than I ever have after today. She also had me sign some papers regarding the risks of anesthesia which I knew from my last surgery ( the risks are pretty bad, but so are a lot of prescription medications).

Early Evening - Final “Preparation” and Meeting the Chief Anesthesiologist

So obviously I couldn’t eat anything past lunch since my body needs to be pretty much empty by surgery time. They did give me some delicious soup as my final meal and are allowing me to drink water and teas.
Before the Chief Anesthesiologist visited me, one of the male nurses had to give me my first ENEMA to clear me out. I will not explain it since it is too undignifying but here is a link.

The Chief Anesthesiologist  caught me in the middle of my enema bowel expulsion but I
didn’t really care by this point. He gave me his cell number for Connie to call once the operation was complete. He was a total badass and spoke English very well, which is really comforting in a hospital where I can’t really communicate with more than half the staff. He told me the surgery will be around 4 hours long and that he will be doing the Anesthesia ( BTW I had the option to pay an extra 2k for the Chief to administer the anesthesia and hell yes I paid, I wouldn’t want anyone else fucking with my spine).

Evening - A Few Final Words before Surgery

Connie has been my greatest supporter during this experience and I love her more than anything in the world. She has infused me with positivity and strength which makes this experience much easier. I see a lot of depressed cancer patients walking around alone and I think I might have enough positive energy to give them once I begin to recover (I can’t understand most of them, but I learned a thing or 2 about body language communication when we visited China a couple years ago and there are some awesome translation apps on my Iphone which I carry around). Maybe I will draw them something.

I am feeling very confident about the surgery. Both the Chief doctors are world renowned badasses and are very specialized in their field. I could not be in better hands. I will post another update once I am able. Connie will probably write the next blog entry.

I am about to shower, take my hardcore sleeping pill, drink more camomile tea and go to bed. The nurses are going to wake me up around 5AM tomorrow and the surgery is at 9AM. I will be totally drugged up before then. In America my surgery time will probably be past midnight on Wednesday/Thursday. When you folks wake up, I will have less cancer in my body. Good Night and wish me a successful resection!


  1. Crazy what you're going through, really puts things in perspective. Best of luck. Eagerly awaiting the next update.

    -Matt C

  2. We send you all kinds of love and support. We need you to get back here healthy so we can do that dinner we owe you. :)

  3. Riveted by all this info. Keep your heads up and hearts strong. I'll check for a progress update tomorrow (likely written by Connie?). Love you both. xo

  4. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with you Kevin, and Connie.
    Hear from you when you are much more cancer free xo

  5. Neal and I are sending every positive thought and vibe to you! Badass Doctors... laser the hell outta that cancer! Keep kicking ass, Kevin!! xoxo to you and Connie <3
    Sarah and Neal

  6. Sending my best wishes your way. The environment pit misses your positive energy! Hope the operation goes very well and all the zerglings get nuked!

  7. I laughed my ass off reading the funny parts of your posts. Phrases that will stay in my humor system: "mid-bowel expulsion", "a laser system HE FUCKING INVENTED". I'm glad you're writing and sharing this.

    You're one strong, brave badass Kevin. I look forward to seeing you and Connie when you guys get back to California.

    My thoughts are with you and I'm giving cancer a big middle finger on your behalf while Doktor Rolle lases them into oblivion.

  8. damn Kev, you're a real inspiration. To have such a great and positive attitude to see things through. Definitely hit the ground running. Hope to hear from you and Connie soon!!!