"When I found out that I [had a problem] with my lung, I had been in the hospital for a gallbladder surgery, and afterwards I developed pneumonia. The pneumonia didn't resolve very quickly, so they did a chest x-ray to find out, and found a little spot, and at the time, they didn't think it was anthing serious. And my doctor--my family doctor--recommended that I come back three months later and have a repeat x-ray to see if it had resolved. So I went ahead and went on my winter vacation, and had a good time, and came back in February.....around the 23rd of February, I went in for a CT scan....I'm sorry, that was about a week earlier, I went in for a CT scan. A couple days later, my doctor wanted me to have a CT guided needle biopsy. And I had that done, and at that time, they found that it was adenocarcinoma.
It was recommended that I have it removed, and, a couple days later, I had heard that Dr. Hazelrigg did a new surgical procedure called a thoracoscopy. And, what happens with this surgery is t
hey go in with three small incisions, and are able to remove even the lobes of the lung. They do have to open one incision a little larger to pull the lobe out, but they do the major portion of the surgery with the three small incisions. And, of course, that sounded much better to me than the whole surgery.
So I contacted Dr. Hazelrigg, and he explained both procedures to me, because he said he wouldn't know until he got in whether the surgery could be done thoracoscopically, or whether I'd have to have the regular larger surgery.
And, of course, I was hoping that it would be the small one. Before the surgery, I had to have breathing tests to see if I have enough the capacity, air capacity. They also ran an EKG, and, I mean, just basic tests, of course. Dr. Hazelrigg, of course, looked at the x-rays and looked at the CT scans, and showed me on the scan what it looked like.
I went in for surgery; I went to A.M. Admit; couldn't have anything to eat or drink after midnight......you know, the same procedure.
In the holding area, it was about a couple hours later, the nurses prepared me for the surgery. I went in to the surgical suite, and that's the last I remember. Everyone was very helpful, and the anesthesia provider and the nurse just really helped me relax. It was frightening, it was scary, but I really hoped I would have the smaller surgery done. "I remember just barely waking up in Recovery, and the first thing was like, 'Did they do the big one or the little one?' And my husband was there, and Dr. Hazelrigg, and they said they were able to do the surgery through the smaller incisions. So, I was out of the hospital in three days--unbelievably to most people.
They did have to leave a chest tube in a little longer than they anticipated. And, after they took the chest tube out; I had the surgery Wednesday around noon, and they took the chest tube out on Saturday and said I could stay or I could go home, and I chose to go home...and I did fine. Before I left, they gave me a sheet of instructions to tell me what to do...(upon)...how to change the dressing and what to look for, and I got along great with all that. I really felt like most of my questions were answered in advance. I had a phone number I could call anytime; they made me feel comfortable about calling day or night, but I just didn't really seem to need it; the instruction sheet was very clear. I was told that I could return to activities whenever I felt up to it. And, a week later, I had to go in for my first doctor's appointment, and I'm speaking a week after my surgery, and then about 10 days later, I decided to drive, that I felt well enough to drive.
The only thing that I had that was uncomfortable and it stayed uncomfortable for a while was where the scope had laid on the intercostal nerve, and so it was kind of uncomfortable for....well, several weeks. And that was probably the worst part of the surgery.
Afterwards, I found out that they had removed the whole tumor, that none of the lymph nodes were involved; if you had to have a lung cancer, that was the best kind to have...it was the most treatable kind.
And so I feel very fortunate and I feel fortunate that Dr. Hazelrigg was available to do this 'better' surgery, as far as I'm concerned. And let's see, after surgery, about two weeks later, I started walking. I resumed a walking program, and now I'm increasing it. I'm eight weeks past my surgical date now, and I'm walking three miles a couple days a week, and two miles up to four or five days a week. So, I'm back to my regular activities; I even rode horseback two weeks ago.
And so I feel like, I mean if you have to have a surgery, that this was probably the best way to go for a lung surgery."
For additional information, please contact
Theresa M. Boley, R.N., M.S.N., FNP-CS
Stephen R. Hazelrigg, M.D
Professor and Chair
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
SIU School of Medicine