Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Snapshot

Any of you who visited this site over the last few weeks noticed my sticky post about going in for surgery.  Now that it is over I can relax a little and fill you in on the details.  Being the blogger that I am I tucked a small camera into my travel bag.  So, lets take a peek around my hospital room.  

This happens to be a room in the ICU (intensive care unit).  The doctors wanted me where I could be closely watched for signs of complications after my lung biopsy. 

I was in a third floor room but the view out my window was nothing more than the roof top of  the surgery unit below.  

There was lots of gravel and some nice blue sky

and lots of big stainless steel bowls and towers

Never did learn if this was heating, AC or ventilation equipment. 

The view from the end of my bed.  I had a flat screen TV and on the shelf on the right was a  VCR and remote control.  That gray square on the bottom shelf was a combination radio and I-pod player.  Behind the door next to it was a small refrigerator.  The long bench became a bed if someone wanted to stay with me overnight.  I have never had such luxuries in a hospital room before.   

The curtain opened onto a nurses work station and I found it rather noisy at night. 

My room was large and had a sofa and work station for the Old Salt to use while I was napping.   

Since I took a picture of the Old Salt he had to make sure and get one of me as well.  That big smile was caused by the news that I was getting to go home and had nothing to do with how I was actually feeling.  

My veins kept collapsing so it took five tries to get the IV started. All that sticking left me black and blue up and down my arms. There were some complications getting the airway tube down my throat which left me with a very sore throat. I have three incisions in my side and some badly bruised ribs from the procedure.  But, overall I am recovering nicely.  

Now why did I need this biopsy?  

While being treated for cancer last winter I developed some unrelated complications.  After months of visiting specialists and a battery of testing it was discovered that I am suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis. The doctors feel that it is rather advanced since the bottom lobes of my lungs have started to collapse when I lie down.  The only way to know for sure was by doing this lung biopsy.   

The lab results will come in slowly over the next two to six weeks as all the different cultures the doctor requested are grown in the lab.  The doctor is checking for both obvious and rare causes for my fibrosis. On the list are TB, chemical and asbestos exposure as well as a number of bacterial and viral causes. The doctors hope by finding a cause they will find a way to slow down the progression of this condition. 

I have never been a smoker but my first husband died from COPD and smoked heavily until his death. I breathed a lot of second hand smoke both at home and in my working life.  However there is no proof that smoking is the cause.  Doctors have said that currently there is no known cause for this condition and the only treatment is a lung transplant.  But, I have also been told that due to age, cancer and diabetes I am a poor transplant candidate. 

In fact, one specialist very bluntly told me he believes I only have two good years left before I end up on full time oxygen and that he felt I would be dead within five years. 

I am hopeful the doctor's diagnoses is wrong.   Current studies show that doctors are mistaken about 15 to 20 percent of the time on average. And, of course, some doctors more than others.   If that fails I am certainly going to do everything in my power to defy the odds.  Studies we have found say the median life expectance for this condition is ten years.  That means that as many people live beyond ten years as die before then.  But, a relative  had this condition and lived almost twenty years with it.  Admittedly her last few were difficult for both her and her children.  While my diagnoses is not the same as my first husband's was, he did live for fifteen years after he was told he had six months at best.  

Having already lived through being a caretaker for someone who was dying of a lung disease I know what to expect when my condition reaches the point where I cannot get enough oxygen to sustain normal activities.

My worry however is not for myself, it has to do with the tole this is taking on the Old Salt.  He is not dealing with it very well and I can't fall apart because he does better when I am not upset. 
Caring for my first husband taught me to live life in the moment.  That knowledge is certainly serving me well now and it is what gets me through all this waiting for the final verdict.  

I want to assure you the state of my health is not going to become a major topic on this blog.  In fact, this will probably be the last time I discuss it this openly.

Back in 2007, a wonderful lady named Tricia started a blog entitled "I slept with Robert De Niro, but about my Cancer."  The Old Salt and I read every post from the announcement of her diagnoses to the day her best friend posted a final entry on her blog telling all of us she had died in 2009.  He said he would leave her post up so that her followers could share their comments.    Tricia was a wonderful screenwriter and did a great job of mixing her life story around the details of her cancer treatments.  She wrote an honest narrative  of her illness using humor and suspense to keep you waiting for the next installment in the story of her fight.  She never gave up and fought the good fight right to the end.   

I do not have Tricia's talent with words and I have never been known as witty.  Besides, I have a hard time getting my family to read this blog (which they find dull and boring) so there is no way I will turn it into an essay on my health woes which my family already believes I exaggerate.  

I have been dealt a rough deal, that I am now trying to get adjusted to.  But, I will continue to live my life as full and active as my situation permits. When I no longer have anything I feel I can contribute to this blog that you, my faithful readers, will want to tune in to read--- I will simply let it go as we must let everything go in the end.

I take my inspiration from Tricia.  I, too, plan to fight the good fight and never give up.

Let me end this with a poem by Dylan Thomas that speaks volumes about how I'm feeling right now.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I am linking this post to Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall


  1. Well you certainly have had a bad plate dumped on your lap. Attitude is a major factor in how one survives and the longevity of the good days, Giving up doesn't get us anywhere good .... I will add you to my daily prayers ..

  2. Oh(!), thanks for this update, Rita! So glad to see your great smile. Sending scads of good wishes and hugs,

  3. I am smiling through my tears - smiles because you have such a great attitude, and tears because of the pain you are experiencing. Your attitude will do you well - know we are all sending you prayers and good wishes. Still hoping to catch up with you when we get home to MO later this year!

  4. Oh my I'm sorry you are having to go through all of this. I think some doctors could do with going to school to learn a little bit about compassion and how to talk to patient.
    I've not been reading your blog for very long but I have to say what I have read I have enjoyed - what a shame your family don't read it.
    Anyway keep your chin up with lots of positive thoughts. Sending you warm hugs across the sea.
    Take care of yourself!!

  5. I'm so sorry about this. It sounds like you are well equipped with an attitude to get through this. I wish you the best.

  6. Hey now that family of yours isn't all bad and there are a few of us that do read your blog or I wouldn't be posting on it right now. I love you and have your back!!! You are always in my prayers. You are the best biggest sister a little sister could ever ask for.

  7. Hi Rita ... thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave such a heartfelt comment...and thank you for directing me to this post of yours. What a trying time you are having, I will keep you in my thoughts ... I agree with everyone above that your attitude is wonderful and I believe it should be a lesson to us. Thank you {again} for sharing and reaching out.

  8. Well, Rita, I just can't tell you how sorry I am to hear this. But, with prayer and a positive attitude, you will do well, I am sure of it. I will lift you up in my prayers. If you ever need anything, please email me. I don't know what I could do so far away, but sometimes just a word of encouragement is all one needs. I'll pray for the "old Salt"'s hard on loved ones when there is a serious illness....hope to hear some good news if possible on the biopsy results. Keeping blogging! Keep up that wonderful positive spirit!

  9. I missed this when I was away visiting my granddaughters.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you Rita and the best attitude is to 'fight the good fight'.
    Many blessings to you and your 'Old Salt'!

  10. Thank you everyone for the outpouring of well wishes and promises of prayers. So many of you preferred to send your message by e-mail that my inbox has kept me very busy trying to answer all the messages.

  11. Good Morning Rita...
    So happy to hear that you are back home now, and out of the hospital. (I know about ICU and 10 days there was enough for me.) You had a very nice room though and that is nice for the Old Salt. I know he was happy being close to you and having a few comforts of home.

    Those Dr.s do not know everything, and we all know the power of prayer. You dear friend have many, many years to live yet, and we will accept nothing less than that. We are going to stay positive and focused on what the next step in the process is going to be. I will be storming the heavens in your behalf sweetie. I am right there at your side.

    Please keep me posted on updates. You have my addie. So happy to hear that you are home, and now the process of healing will begin. Hugs, hugs and more hugs sweet friend. All my love, Sherry


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