Surgery Went Fantastic, I’m Recovering Well, HBO Ended Nicely
Wednesday November 02nd 2011, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family, Friends, Leukemia, Me, Myself, and Reid

Thank you to everyone for the thoughts and prayers and checkings-in about my surgery two Fridays ago, and how my recovery from that surgery has been going. These things always mean a lot to me, even if it takes me a couple of weeks or months or some further highly inappropriate span of time to say so.

My surgery went very well, which in itself was a huge victory for me. Furthermore!, once the surgery was underway, the surgeon decided that it was unnecessary to remove–by manner of chipping, yanking, wielding, or otherwise–any part of any of my vertebrae. I found this to be quite a turn of good luck, seeing as how much I love using my spinal cord on a daily basis. Not that my spinal cord was ever in that much peril, but not having to touch its shell sure made me more comfortable. Or it would’ve, if I’d known about it beforehand. Oh well. Still good news!

Everyone involved with the surgery was fantastic. Of course, there was the surgeon, who I am forced to assume did very well for two specific reasons. First, he must be very good because everyone in the know says my back looks very good. Second, I must take those folks’ word since the surgeon never showed me how it looked when it was finished, like my barber would’ve done with his little mirror, so I could see the the back of my new back. Then, of course, there was the anesthesiologist, the surgery team (whose individual job titles I never really caught), the pre-op nurse, the post-op nurse, my family who waited outside (some farther away than others), and finally me, who waited inside the whole time. Every single one, fantastic.

The inpatient situation was laughably bad now that I’m nearly two weeks out from it. Before now, it was laughable and stupid, before that, it was stupid and dangerous, and before thaaaat, it was dangerous and frightening, while at the time, I didn’t quite fear for my life, I may have spent several hours, curled up in my bed, wondering what small straw it would take to break that camel’s back. Ha ha ha! Hilarious.

Those nurses of the nursing staff with which I personally interacted during my short stay at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital were not up to the same standards of not invading my tiny, irregular pentagonally shaped room at 3:37 AM, of not moving the only chair out of said irregular pentagonally shaped room, of not requiring an hour’s worth of trigonometry to move said chair, and of not not trying to choke me with my canula several times and tipping over my IV tree, from which dangled tubes and whatnot that went into the veins in my hand, which I think might work their way back up to my heart, which probably could’ve just been yanked out right there but it fell on the chair, all while performing said trigonometry that I’ve experienced at other hospitals.

Moving away from that tiny bit of unpleasantness (well, a lots of unpleasantness in a small amount of time), the morning after my surgery, I was wheeled down from the aforementioned irregular pentagonally shaped room to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO). It turned out that Saturday morning HBO was only attended by me and veteran HBOer Tucker. Tucker was not all that fond of me invading his usual solo HBO excursions in a chamber built for 12 people. Tucker was six (making this particular session’s average age far below the standard 83 years old, at a mere 11), and by the time he and one of the HBO technicians played two hours worth of tic-tac-toe under 45 feet of pressure, Tucker didn’t seem to mind me much anymore.

The next day, I switched back to my normal afternoons in the chamber, where no one would play tic-tac-toe with me, and I was the one dragging down the average age. I was the only one whose hair hadn’t all gone gray or fallen out. I stopped bringing anything to read for those two hours in the chamber, because somebody liked me and kept giving me a bunk to sleep on. But, honestly, I loved all those folks. I really enjoyed this past month getting to know them. We’d talk before and after treatment, and inside the chamber, on breaks from wearing our various oxygen headgear. Everyone was so damn nice. Every single one of us were cancer survivors, and until the last few days when a new patient joined us, all of us had been wounded by radiation. It didn’t matter how old any of us were. There was as an amazing strength of spirit amongst us. I wish all of the friends I met in the hyperbaric chambers very good luck, and the best of health.

I finished hyperbaric oxygen therapy on Monday, on condition that if my back looks even the slightest bit wonky while healing, I’ll go back. At a checkup with my surgeon on Tuesday, no wonkiness was detected–he said said it was looking great and healing as expected. Someone simply looking at a wound and saying “this looks like expected” for me is another victory.

I really only have the highest praise for everyone in the HBO center at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital. From the doctors, to the nurses, to the hyperbaric chamber technicians, to the office staff, everyone made me feel like part of a community of mutual respect and support. They’re great. So if you find yourself in the Rocky Mountain Region any time soon with any sort of major radiation wound, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or just a case of the bends, I recommend these folks whole heartedly!

Hyperbolic Therapy Technician

P.S. I’ve discovered that if too much air gets into my tummy while under pressure, that air then expands, and I have massive, largely uncontrollable burps for the next 18 hours.

4 Comments so far
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You should go back and see if they can turn the HBO chamber in the opposite direction for you one day. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have at 25,000 feet without leaving the ground!

Comment by Martin 11.02.11 @ 10:07 pm

Woohoo! Victory! I’m glad to hear that Reid, the HBO technician is doing well. It’s amazing what you learn on the job. Here’s to more victories. * picks up imaginary drink*

Comment by Krista 11.02.11 @ 11:02 pm

Thank you, as always, I appreciate the support.

Disclaimer: Just to clarify, so there is no confusion, legal or otherwise, I am not a hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician, because that would require a level of attention to things like numbers, dials, and staying awake that I do not posses. I am merely a hyperbolic therapy technician, which requires only that I knowingly and egregiously exaggerate things for my own fancy. As to the former, this is good, because I think those hyperbaric chambers could be really dangerous without the right technician. As to that latter, no one gets hurt unless they can’t detect sarcasm.

Martin: At first, I thought your reference to turning the HBO chamber in the opposite direction for one day was a fart joke, since I’d mentioned burping when going 45 down. Then I realized that, no, you were just talking about simulating cruising altitude from the chamber. Sadly, since there is no in-flight movie, no food allowed, and my bags cost $25 a piece to stow, this probably is not an experiment I am willing to try.

Krista: Thank you! But, I hope that imaginary drink is outside the hyperbaric chamber. Because even imaginary drinks in imaginary glasses are highly pressurized at just 1-3 feet under wat–


Great! Now, I have imaginary champaign all over my imaginary tuxedo! Okay, it’s no problem, don’t worry, I’ll just imagine myself a new tuxedo, a new bottle of champaign, and a new location to celebrate. Excellent! Tux: check, looking good. Champaign and glasses: check, everyone gets a glass, there we go, fantastic. And let’s see, where are we? On an imaginary airplane? $25 per imaginary bag? That’s preposterous! And why am I sitting in the back of the plane? In front of two imaginary kids who are kicking me and screaming at one another?! This isn’t right! I made up this airline! Why I oughta…!


Comment by Reid 11.07.11 @ 11:01 pm

Have you checked with St. Jude Childrens Hospital or Shriners about pnovidirg a hyperbaric chamber? I asked my mom who is an NNP and she thought you might want to inquire with them and see if they can help.

Comment by Nilce 12.07.15 @ 9:35 pm

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