Sunday, July 22, 2012

During, Before and After Surgery

The morning of the surgery-

Here is a list of things that happened before the surgery (I am only posting this since my nausea is almost completely gone and I am able to type again).

1- ( sucks) waking up at 5am because the english "presurgery checklist" says to be ready by 5:30am even tho nobody stops by till after 7
2- (sucks) Getting shaved again by a male nurse that does not speak a lick of english ( no creams, just small cuts and rashes)
3- (not too bad) spinal epidural - Dr. Krassler ( the chief anesthesiologist, Wow I can type that without spell check now) it feels weird having a long needle going into your spine but they numb it pretty well beforehand with standard local anesthetic needles( like the dentist). This is apparently the best form of pain relief since it's instant ( I don't even feel the tube coming out of my back right now)
4- (great) all the drugs they pumped into me to get me to pass out (ending with the oxygen mask and lots of injections)

Waking up after surgery! -
(Disclaimer: everything below may be a bit hard to read for some of you more sensitive folk)

It happened so fast I remember wondering why they haven't started yet ( I was a bit delirious from the drugs which was a good thing). My memory is a bit hazy from the first night but THAT'S OKAY. What I do remember is waking up with lots of different colored wires hooked up everywhere -bloodpressure valve, different nutritional tubes, pain-killers , 2 drainage tubes coming out of right lung and finally my pee-pee catheter (which was the best one since I remember hating life trying to pee into a bucket right after my last surgery in America ). BTW opiate painkillers can make it very difficult to loosen yourself up enough to pee, even with a full bladder. That's probably one of the worst pressures I have experienced in the past so when they asked me for the catheter option earlier I was like HELL FUCKING YES! ( there is a tingling sensation to it but other than that, no pain. plus they installed it while I was passed out)

First Night After Surgery-

I could not sleep the first night, this was normal for me after basically "sleeping" for 4 hours during surgery. The drugs were keeping the pain manageable but I had a decent amount of nausea since the anesthesia was still in my system. After Connie left the room (ICU hours are strict and visitors need to be out by 10) it was me and my Ipod nano audiobooks for the rest of the night. I listened to Fedmahn Kassad's backstory in "Hyperion" (a fucking amazing sci-fi novel) which was incredible. I knew I couldn't sleep even with pills ( I asked for multiple throughout the night) so this was the perfect distraction for the night. Yea, this is a situation where audiobooks wins over books, my vision was contributing to my nausea so listening to an audiobook or some soothing nature sounds really made the night bearable.

The Next Day after Surgery-

I was dead beat tired at 7am when the nurses came in all chipper to guide me through my morning routine (portable X-ray of my chest, in-bed physical therapy where I did some mobility stretches for circulation). I also experienced the worst pain of my life for a good 5-10 minutes when they had to manually suction out a bunch of blood out of my lungs (not enuff pain meds probably since the epidural was running low). I also didn't have much of an appetite throughout the day but I ate anyways and I spent the day in bed trying to sleep while occasionally coughing up some weird black stuff (which looked like tiny pieces of burned firewood...maybe they were dead tumor remains?).
My nausea wasn't too bad this day, I didn't start throwing up until the next day.

The 3rd Day after Surgery-

This was the toughest day. I woke up feeling so sick that I had to throw up every 20-30 minutes for the first couple hours ( I did sleep for a couple hours) . The doctors switched out my painkillers to something else which helped later. Also, coughing up small blood chunks into a small cup(while holding my stitches) became part of my morning ritual. The doctors gave me a medication that forces slime into lungs and makes me cough out bad blood to prevent infection..soo coughing up blood was a good thing.....Btw the all the nurses here are incredibly skilled. Markus in particular. He kept my spirits up and had a great sense of humor while taking care of me.

Later he asked me if I knew what happened in Colorado with the Dark Knight Rises shooting. I quickly looked it up and was pretty shocked. He asked me if it was easy to obtain a gun in the US and I gave him the whole rundown of our process and how every state handles it differently and how some of the smartest people could be local terrorists. Either way that night is going to taint an awesome movie and the movie-going experience in the future which should always be/feel safe. I talked to the night nurse about it as well.

Later in the evening I started feeling better, my body was agreeing with the new painkillers and I was able to keep food down. I asked for extra sleeping pills which they gave me and I was able to sleep for 5 WHOLE HOURS! (which is really good me when I'm in a hospital). After waking up around 4AM ( I slept at sunset 10pm and Connie left around 9) I listened to more "Hyperion" early in the morning. I finished the poet Martin Silenus' story which was also super fucking epic. The visual descriptions are incredible and I had awesome lucid dreams the whole night (flying, blowing shit up, changing my environment like the movie "inception"). Maybe it was the new drugs but this was my first restful night.

The 4th Day after Surgery - The Day I feel Good again

Today I was able to eat breakfast, piss on my own, walk around a bit in the ICU area with Connie and type this damn blog entry. Great day so far! Connie helped give me a sponge bath which made me feel normal and clean again....and no nausea! ( I know she loves me when she can put up with all this). The doctors have been easing me off the painkillers since yesterday and today I am on a lighter dose from the epidural combined with some oral pain meds, I feel "cleaner". The strangest thing is I don't really mind the 2 tubes coming out of my lungs. Since I had this experience already with my last tumor, this was a cakewalk. Plus the tech is better, the suction device has a charging station and monitors the amount of plasma/blood coming out of it. The biggest annoyance is that I have to carry it around with me like a small heavy briefcase/ball&chain.

  Anyways, I think the worst is over for this trip. The doctors told me that my lung took a huge beating and are satisfied at how I am recovering despite the number of tumors they zapped. I just have to keep using my lung trainer every hour and make sure to get up now and then until they move me out of the ICU and back into general population. I have also lost all physical shame during this experience, having the nurses(both male and female) take care of all my bodily functions and having my wife sponge bathe me is something people don't normally experience until they are past 70. When the time comes to do the other lung I will be a total pro and probably be a lot more bitchy and demanding since I know what my limits are now.

  Thanks to everyone for reading these longs posts, it helps me to know that some of this info may help enlighten some of you to make better health decisions and even reevaluate your current life situation ( please learn from my mistakes) . Please do your own thorough research and keep track of your own body, our western diet is a feeding ground for cancer( and other diseases) and the doctors do not know everything ( and a bunch of them are bought off, just do research on medicare exploits). Sometimes our minds try to tell us things like "hey asshole, why don't you get that bump checked out" or "hmm I haven't gone to the doctor in a while but I'm sure I'm fine" or " hey this doctor is kinda shady, maybe I should get a second or third opinion?". 

Lastly, please check out this TED talk (18min) on how Dr. Terry Wahls conquered her multiple sclerosis with an aggressive diet even when her fellow doctors said it was hopeless and incurable.

Here is Dr. Terry Wahls Book with good info and lots of recipes.

I also highly recommend this book for health and cancer awareness:
Anticancer A new way of Life (kindle version available!)

...this books also talks about ways of preventing other serious illnesses (diabetes,heart disease, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimers, etc) and how they are all related to taking care of our body's natural "terrain".

I will do a future post on why I juice multiple times a day and hows its a more convenient way of following Dr. Wahls' inspirational story.



  1. Hey Kev. You are a hero! Keep up the good fight! Our thoughts and prayers are with you guys.

  2. So glad youre feeling good dude! Looking forward to each update till we get you back to the states. Keep being a badass.

  3. Hey Kev thanks for keeping us posted, it was a really interesting read. We are all rooting for you! See you soonish

  4. Glad to be reading about it, means you are doing better. Keep us updated, we love you guys and want to do what we can for you so let us know.

  5. Awesome news Kev. You'll be back home in no time now! Make sure to push your physical therapy, as much as it sucks. It will only benefit you in the long run.

  6. Kevin, I'm glad you made it through surgery ok, and I was sorry to hear about the vomiting. Nausea and stitches - not a good combination. Ugh! The pain med management is always an iffy thing at hospitals. It must be extra tricky with the language barrier to deal with as well.

    Also, I know your pain when it comes to not being able to pee. I had the same problem after my c-section. That experience also left me with no shame. It's pretty astounding what family members and medical professionals will do for you. I'm glad you have Connie with you for support.

    Good luck, and speedy healing!!

  7. Thanks for the update, Kevin. Glad you got through the nausea. That had to suck. Heal up and come home. We all miss you.
    By the way, Hyperion's one of my favorites of all time. Some really great story-telling. Hope it helps pass the time.

  8. Good to hear you are better now Kevin! Recover well :)

  9. I'm going to be looking up those sci-fi books to add to my goodreads =) I'm currently reading the second dark tower, but also a book called Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Its been the best layman's term book for "get your act together, your american diet is killing you"... and with other personal experiences over the last year, I've watched and read some of what you've recommended already.
    Keep kicking ass, man! Glad you're movin', groovin' and keeping on!
    Much aloha, sarah hoist