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Abbreviated version of preparing for surgery: Think clean happy thoughts, do lots of exercise, don't get upset if things don't go as you planned and live happily ever after.

See how easy that was????????


This discussion will continue its rambling ways,  AFTER the squiggle.

Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.

but we ALL know that I like to give


I feel that fleshing out the why's and how's helps to explain what I have been doing and hopefully can help others as they go through or witness similar experiences either for themselves or family and friends.  This is a chance to see inside the mind of that crazy man from California and to maybe discover why some say that California is the land of fruits and nuts!  teasing wink

The Details:

From the time I first started my 3 cycles of chemotherapy in April, until they were completed in early June,  I tried to walk at an aerobic pace at least 6 miles per week no matter what.  Some weeks I exceeded that distance, other weeks I was under by more than I am willing to admit, damn chemo fatigue.  But I tried to get my 6 miles in every week; I REALLY did try honey honest (that last one is for my wife chuckles).  

My thinking in trying to follow through with this exercise regime was two fold. First to help circulate out of my body the introduced poisons aka chemotherapy drugs. The second purpose was to do my best to increase my cardiovascular fitness so that I could try to minimize the adverse affects of having at a minimum one lobe if not a whole lung removed.  That was my rationale behind this level of activity.  Oh and I was still working  full-time too. I was in training to have a lung removed! it made sense to me, well at least in my mind it made sense and if as a result of that training I actually increased my baseline of healthiness? all the better right?  

So a-walking Stevie went. Walking and walking and walking. Around the neighborhood, down at the high school track, around the block, to grandmother's house I went, drinking lots of water all the way. So by the time I came to the end of chemo and had my PET Scan in late June I thought I was physically ready to under go the stress of big time chest surgery and having some body parts removed.

But there is more than just the physical insult of surgery.  

What about the emotional and psychological?

I had been reading about what other folks experienced with the same or similar surgeries at various online places of discussion including here at MNCC, and especially a wonderful online community called: I realized that I needed to know as much as possible about what I was likely to experience.  Because I have learned this about myself: I don't manage startling unexpected surprises very well, after all they don't happen every day (they better not at least).

The most personally surprising aspect to properly preparing was this:  

Me, the professionally-trained emergency-response dude with decades of experience in emergencies; me the manager-type who is cooler headed in a life- threatening real world global crisis than Clint Eastwood swinging from a rope by his neck, yeah me, that guy, sometimes has problems managing surprises in my own personal life.

We could get all psychoanalytical and such but basically it boils down to this very human trait even experienced emergency folks have to admit:  Every once in a while fear of the unknown keeps chasing that damn squirrel inside my head, trying to make him go crazy with worry. What can I say? I recognize that especially at this very moment in my life, worry could end up being a fast trip to decline and all kinds of unpleasant outcomes.  

So I have the following conversation in my head once in a while  -

"Worry is NOT an option; not this time; and not with cancer; not for me. The emotional poisons associated with worry and negativity are not welcome and will not find fertile ground inside my little pea brain."

Having that conversation helps keep me balanced, centered and even-keeled (well as even-keeled as a person born in California can be anyway).  A Nice 3 finger full glass of wine or (or something lots stronger) once in a while doesn't hurt either. laughs

Warning, brief somewhat tangential discussion to follow

Since my pneumonia I began once again to re-establish walking as an integral part of my recovery from this set-back.  I feel so much better physically, emotionally and spiritually when I do exercise (as if this is a new earth-shattering discovery for the world to learn about, right?).  I have progressed from a few hundred feet per day in those early days of August so that by the middle of September I was up to almost 2 miles per day, all while towing behind me a bottle of oxygen on wheels. After 6 weeks of doing things on my own (exercise-wise) my surgeon had me take a pulmonary function test (PFT) to determine where I was as far as lung function goes, to see if I was ready for surgery.  Unfortunately, testing results were not good, so back to the Pulmonologist to try and figure out if there was an underlying clinical issue impairing healing and recovery.  

Brief somewhat tangential discussion ends here chuckles
After further examination by the lung specialist, more testing and a CT Scan we discovered that I had experienced some significant inflammatory changes in my lower lungs because of one of the chemo drugs called Gemcitabine aka Gemzar. So now I am in Rehab.  Pulmonary rehab that is AND drugs.... oh how I love drugs that actually work, don't we all? rolling my eyes

Current Preparations for Surgery

 Since October 12th I have been doing the following daily routine.

I now go to the Kaiser rehab gym for at least 1 hour per day workouts Monday through Friday.  My workout consists of 20 minutes on a flat treadmill at a 2.5 mph pace making sure my oxygen saturation levels do not drop below 90%. I then do 20 minutes on an arm bicycle machine followed by the final 20 minutes on a stationary bicycle to finish the leg work.  I noticed after just the first two weeks of doing this exercise routine I was already noticing improvements.  My resting pulse rates dropped from 92 back in July to a current rate of 72 at rest.  My resting blood pressures were 139/87 already they had dropped to 101/68.  Now here we are in November and I am now locking in endurance and stamina. So I started lifting light weights last week. And I am still making improvements.  My blood pressure and resting pulse rates are unchanged however, my oxygen saturation levels are slowly climbing higher to 94% saturation levels while exercising instead of my beginning rates.

So between the drugs and the exercise and my not going to work at all since July 21st, yes Houston we have ignition! Actually we have improving health, fitness and dropped a little bit of weight to boot.

Progress is being made and now I have more hope than ever that my lungs and body will be fit enough for surgery by the end of November.   Of course none of this would be possible without my darling wife kicking my butt every week from afar reminding me "NOT TO PROCRASTINATE" and to stay focused; we have a life we want to live together and that the sooner I get all of this "cancer stuff" taken care of the sooner we will be back together all the time.  

Latest Update of Information
Now I have been scheduled for surgery on December 11th. So we are back on track.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm glad that you posted this and that I had the (24+ / 0-)

    time to read it.  In two days I will be going for a consult and then whenever they schedule my procedure after that I will have a biopsy.  From the preliminaries it looks like I may have cancer.

    I haven't told anyone but my husband - don't want to worry anyone else needlessly - but I am very worried.  

    But to answer your question about getting ready for surgery my advice would be to hydrate, meditate, and not smoke before a medical procedure under anesthesia.

    Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

    "If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones." John Steinbeck

    by BluejayRN on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:09:40 PM PST

  •  All good advice I'll forward to my 69yr dad (13+ / 0-)

    He was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

    "It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that a man can always solve his problems" - Kurt Vonnegut

    by jazzence on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:20:42 PM PST

  •  I was very lucky (11+ / 0-)

    to have no time to really plan. Monday "I need about a month to get my classes all ready."
    "I'll see you Thursday morning."
    So much to do! I needed to get a load of hay into the hayloft. I didn't know how long I would be enfeebled. I had promised my buddy I would have his lot cleared by the weekend. I went crazy with the chainsaw in the dark, using a droplight hanging from a branch, loading up wood as I went along until that task was done. I drove to my hay supplier, loaded 30 bales on the truck and stuffed the loft (Only fits 50 bales, 55 were stuck in there).
    I had to make sure the stove was cleaned out and that my wife knew which pile of wood was next in line.
    In school I wrote out a month of plans for a sub. My boss would make sure everything was OK. My calculus classes suffered, for there were no short-order calc people hanging about.
    I was lucky that the surgeon was ready to rid me of a big tumor. I was in tough shape, but cranking along like I was OK (dumbass).
    I was lucky the weather was so bad. I couldn't wait to get back to school after missing a month. If this had happened in the summer I would have been on the water and hard to find.
    No time to worry! Too busy!

  •  Since you've already experienced the wonders (10+ / 0-)

    of chemo, DH, surgery should hold you no terrors.

    You'll be sore.  They'll get you on your feet way too fast, you'll think, probably only a few hours after you get out of the recovery room.  The faster you get up, the sooner you'll feel better, the stronger you'll be and the more effective the pneumonia-avoidance, too.  

    And they'll give you good drugs.  Use them.  The trick is to get pain and discomfort under control and stay ahead of it.  The more pain you're in, the more your body is fighting the pain instead of healing.  

    Congratulations on getting past the unforeseen but inevitable side-effects.  Hope the worst it behind you.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:32:57 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (9+ / 0-)

      I know that surgery is surgery and you just have to deal with the outcomes.  I also know that my surgeon said he is a FIRM believer is aggressively managing pain and staying ahead of it.  With that in mind I just have to remember NOT to be all macho that path impresses no one but the undertaker.  After all John Wayne won't be impressed (he is dead) Clint Eastwood is too busy talking to empty chairs on national TV  and Luke Skywalker hasn't actually been born yet since he is from the future.  

      So that leaves me with reality and being smart not tough grins

      Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

      by DarkHawk98 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:28:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect they'll do this routinely, because (6+ / 0-)

    lung cancer protocols appear to be quite different than the ones for my cancer. But one diagnostic I wish I had known about (to be able to insist upon) is a called a chemosensitivity assay. (They may already have done that, actually, since you had a biopsy.) That process is analogous to culturing bacteria to see which antibiotics will kill it. For some cancer centers, it's a standard protocol now, while for others it's still considered experimental. I will always wonder for myself whether I would have had less wear-and-tear and better results from my chemo if that inquiry had been made.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:50:21 PM PST

    •  They will be doing the best they can but..... (7+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately most of the that type of research in the lung cancer area has been for Adenocarcinoma's not Squamous Cell (which is what I have).  In fact it was just this year that they had success with the gene differential studies that will lead to all that kind of testing in the near future.  But we still have a fairly large list of "FDA approved poisons" to choose from.

      Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

      by DarkHawk98 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:33:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just went to a talk on Lung Cancer. (5+ / 0-)

      My oncologist is the head of lung cancer research at the Sarah Cannon Center.

      For lung cancer he said genome testing is the way to go. He was asked by someone in the audience if they were already getting chemo should they still get tested.

      My doctor (and this is why I love him) said "I work with 40 other oncologist at TN Oncology and 39 of them would tell you not to get tested. I would say yes, and I would make sure that any of my family, friends and loved ones had genome testing done."

      It doesn't seem to be very expensive and many insurance companies pay.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:25:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah I know (6+ / 0-)

        Hopefully soon the Kaiser system will be doing so. For now they only do Lung Cancer Genome testing for those will Adenocarcinoma pathology. Mine is not.

        Heck it was just this past summer that the first published research on genome analysis for Squamous Cell carcinoma primary of the lung was published in a few more years the testing will be established and available.   When it is I will have my residual tumor tested, for sure.

        Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

        by DarkHawk98 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:39:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  He named about 5 or 6 genomes that they test for. (5+ / 0-)

          But I wasn't paying all that much attention I was watching him for how he acted with other folks besides me. (He acts the same)

          I do remember something about the testing that has been fast tracked. Something happened in the midst of the testing that showed them they had all they needed to act.

          They expect the testing to get even faster from now on.

          This is my very non scientific report on it. I was also eating fantastic pasta and noticing how gorgeous and kind my oncologist is.

          Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

          by ZenTrainer on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 10:13:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a LITTLE bit o/t, but it's surgery-related (12+ / 0-)

    When OPOL was headed into surgery for diverticulitis, he posted a diary to share his news--and one of the pieces of advice he got from several of the medical types who responded was this: Make sure you have someone WITH YOU in the hospital at all times.
    Fortunately, he took that advice to heart, and it appears that his son might have saved his life--because he had an adverse reaction to pain meds.
    I'm assuming that your wife will be back with you, DH98, but it's advice worth repeating. Hospital staff are stretched too thin and can't be everywhere at once. And furthermore, they may not be as attuned as someone close to you would be about what's normal and what's alarming.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:55:15 PM PST

  •  AND...... (5+ / 0-)

    I land in the house finally! whew I am here !

    Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

    by DarkHawk98 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:12:09 PM PST

  • - great free newsletter (6+ / 0-)

    Worth a look.

  •  I have a MNCC favor to ask: diary on 11/26 (5+ / 0-)

    I think next week will be fine, but the week after that (the day after Thanksgiving weekend), my own DH and I will be busy. We're going to hear Leonard Cohen in concert in Detroit! I am thrilled. We saw him in 2009 in Cleveland (there's a story associated) and I can't wait for this next one. The 2009 concert was the best live show I have EVER experienced.
    So--that means I can't be here that Monday. Any offers? Please feel free to Kosmail me later, if you're not ready to commit now. Thanks!

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:47:29 PM PST

  •  And another request: quilt diary for DarkHawk98 (7+ / 0-)

    If you haven't already done so, please check out the latest call for messages. With luck, Sara R and winglion will be able to finish his quilt before he heads into surgery :)
    Thanks for all your support.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 07:05:49 PM PST

  •  Lovely as usual to hang out and chat. (6+ / 0-)

    I thank DarkHawk98 for his humorous account of getting ready for a major, major procedure. Fortunately, it sounds like he's going to be in tip-top shape for his surgery--and he will be carrying all of our good wishes with him.

    I have to call it a night myself, but you left-coasters are of course welcome to schmooze for as long as you please. I think DH is a night owl too, so that helps.

    Peace and blessings to all--may everyone have a happy and healthy week.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:35:22 PM PST

    •  yeah I can still (6+ / 0-)

      burn the candle at both ends AND from the middle.  We learn how to do that stuff during my years living and going to school behind the "Redwood Curtain" of Humboldt County, Ca. Where the men are men and the sheep tremble in fear it was once said, By Brett Harte maybe?


      side note: Brett Harte was the founding editor of the Arcata Union newspaper.  He was forced out of town and sent packing to San Francisco AFTER he wrote a scathing editorial about the massacre of hundreds of Indians on Tuluwat Island in Humboldt Bay. U.S. Grant was not there but he had been a commander at Fort Humboldt  but not at the time of the massacre.

      Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

      by DarkHawk98 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:58:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      • about timing...sitting waitng for 5am (5+ / 0-)

        when I go get some stents put in my arteries...should be fine etc, fingers crossed....part of  a sequence of operations I have been going thru to correct congenital aneurysms.

        3-4 hours..geez, my poor Mrs least they have some new furniture and art to grok.

        SO far, so good, except for three bad infections with 3 months daily dressing changes and huge scars..I tell the kids I had a fight with a shark and won.

           This will be done by inserting the peices and ultrasound probes thru leg 'zipper club' (chest opening, big zipper/scar) like my brother and a friend have when they got new heart valves put in....fingers crossed, knock on wood!

        And let me also just say there has never been a better time to have hi tech medicine done, be very glad this isn't 1999 or 1899.

        Anyway, mine certainly not as serious as what you have been prepping for, no mistake.
             I really am with you on the prep and exercise thing, I totally get it, and there is one thing you left out, that so much of what is happening to you is really largely out of your control: does one just sit there and wait and brood...some do.

        No, you move your ass, as it is the one thing under your control you can do with positive results....and it helps you and those around gain confidence as well...cause they are fretting right along with you. This helps them cope.

        Thank you for this diary and sharing what is happening with you on this issue.

        And just in addition, fingers crossed, after this, I am moving to Eureka..yeah I know..but 'it's pretty' etc.  I am not totally thrilled, but am trying to stay open to it. Family, can't live with em, can't live without em, so you move in next door.

        I have written here a couple of times about that aspect of Humboldt history..very sad, and I am impressed with the tribes there...they are neglected and abused by the Federal govt, currently meth is overwhelming them, the pot grows are taking water needed for the salmon, the pot grow gangs are growing on their land without permission and shooting at the youth, the feds don't do anything to help those and don't go after the worst and largest grows, but instead attack medical mj outlets..and frosting that cake is Gov Moonbeam and his dam tunnels taking the Trinity River water..something the counties and the tribes are coming out in almost unison about.

        And the now Eureka's tea bagger boomers are working to get an east west coal train shoved thru prime wilderness, with eminent domain now openly babbled about.  There is a lot of stupid there...

        Glad you are not living there now? Heh.

        Good luck brother, you are doing it right!

        I will check back on the MNCC, I have never before..and here we are...people I 'know' dkos wise...

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 02:34:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  KenBee! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Thank you so VERY much for sharing your thoughts you have given me more knowledge than when I started my writings.  

          And buddy can we TALK about Humboldt County laughs

          Oh lordy a new fight against the redneck crazies? How I long to be able to help.  Those were the days.  

          It can't be any worse than the redwood log carved into a peanut that wast driven from Eureka to the White House to protest the expansion of  Redwood National Park. or how about the dude in the lobby of the Veterans Building in Eureka who was carving on a 4 foot long 4x4 piece of lumber like he was some Buford Puser from the Movie Walking Tall. He was doing this during Congressman Phil Burtons hearings in the hall that day of field hearings on the park expansion.  Ignorance and intimidation have been endemic with some members of the county for a very long time.  Ignore them. or stand up to them and call them out for their ignorance.

          As a BLM River Ranger on the Stanislaus River, I spent many weeks during the summer of 1979 looking for Mark DuBois who was Executive Director of Friends of the River and had chained himself to a rock (at an undisclosed location along the river) to protest the filling of New Melones Reservoir.  

          Be careful with the dope farmers they are dangerous folks.  I fought fire up in the country many times (last time was Happy Camp, Orleans and Junction City in 2008) and the dope farmers were down right mean and dangerous.  they threatened to shoot fire fighters for doing back fires that saved the towns but burned their crops.  

          Enjoy the city zoo, Cutten School district and the bird Sanctuary in Arcata! and then there are the hours and hours you scan spend watching birds in the Arcata bottoms back roads, the drive to Prairie Creek to see the elk or the hike up Redwood Creek to see some VERY tall tree's.  and THEN there is the sea food, the state parks south of Eureka and oh lordy so much more.  But you KNOW all of that already LOL

          THE BEST & WISEST PERSONS in all of Trinity and Humboldt County's are the Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief's of Hoopa Indian Reservation. The chief is a very wise Kurok he is and a 30+ year personal friend and the assistant is a man I fought fire with during the summer of 1977. Both are very wise men and a very tender caring soles.

          Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

          by DarkHawk98 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:38:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I do a lot of things to get ready for surgery. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, peregrine kate

    Take certain herbs, stop taking others. Arrange for pet care. Clean my house. Heaven forbid I come out of surgery with dirty baseboards.

    When my bronchitis is gone I'll post more.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 08:34:59 AM PST

    •  Hmm. I can't say that clean baseboards (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      were high on my list. Though maybe I would have felt better if they had been....
      I really hope you're all better soon. Thanks so much for popping in when you feel so poorly.

      I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 03:48:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is a funny thing isn't it? I have that goofiness going on now myself. Heck I will be cleaning my oven in the next few days, go figure LMAO

      Thank you ZT for your pearls of humor and wisdom as always they help so very much.  Oh and about that lung  tissue you keep coughing up. what's your blood type? Put it in a jar and send it to me winks I will be able to make use of it after the 11th of Dec.! cracks up

      just kidding!

      Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

      by DarkHawk98 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:42:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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