Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Sloan Kettering has comprehensive wireless Internet access for its patients and guests, which is great, but Card Blue is inaccessible because of some quirk of the hospital's net-monitoring (er, censoring) software. Sorry about calling your billing staff "pirates," guys. But, as you see, I've overcome censorship and figured out how to get on to the site and update it, striking a blow for free speech... or something.

You might recall that I was set to arrive in New York last week. Which was true. On the long (five hour) train ride down, I started declining, and soon I was dealing with pain, disconcerting bleeding, weaknesss, having difficulty finding enough wind to walk or even stand. There I was, in New York, with my parents and brother all excited about enjoying a "normal" trip rich in shows, fancy meals and companionship, and something was obviously wrong.

My check-up led to a chest X-ray which led to a trip to Memorial Hospital's "urgent care center" which led to getting a tube inserted into my pleural space through my chest wall in a bedside procedure sans sedation. Although I still recommend an interventional radiologist for all of your chest tube needs, having a thoracic surgeon on your case makes a world of difference versus having a regular emergency doctor do the job. Which is good, because the more they intervene on your lungs, the more complicated things gets. The dangerous collapse this time was on the right side, once my "good" lung, which stayed mostly up for at least six months after I had visually aided thoracic surgery. But the VATS procedure and its accompanying pleurodesis left the relevant area cloaked with crunchy scar tissue and adhesions, which complicated getting this most recent chest tube for me and the surgeon. To place the tube, he spent a lot of time feeling around my lung and pleura with his finger, which is an odd and invasive sensation indeed, especially when you are fully conscious and unsedated. (I did get four milligrams of morphine to start with, and more as he poked and prodded my not-tender-enough lung.)

Now what? Limbo. The guy who is in charge is basically busy saving other peoples' lives right now, leaving him too busy to decide what to do with me. So an undoubtedly competent and exquisitely trained member of his time is left to come into my room at six every morning and say in his rolling British/Indian accent, "There has been no change in the lung since yesterday, though we are hoping that it will rise more completely and seal itself. I hope to speak with Dr. B_____________________________ today and arrive at a plan of action soon." I'm hoping that will actually be true today; stay tuned for much, much more.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Dear SG,
I hope that the stubborn lung stops with the tude and reinflates. You're in my thoughts for what that is worth.