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
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: Inspire.com. 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 chucklesAfter 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 InformationNow I have been scheduled for surgery on December 11th. So we are back on track.