In early 2010 I had surgery for a recurrence of mesothelioma. Although the procedure was successful, since I had already suffered so much pain, I felt some apprehension. Because of the cancer’s strange remoteness, my chest frequently became abnormally bloated and there was often an overwhelming feeling of physical discomfort and heaviness.
During therapy, a therapist encouraged me to begin to watch and incorporate as much information as possible into the healing process. She suggested I formulate my own list of questions in order to identify specific physical and emotional symptoms. Some questions I devised in the beginning have since become part of a short-term recovery process. I thought you might be interested in hearing about the other questions that are core to my recovery.
Q: Since I was diagnosed with heart disease I felt my left ventricle was ‘under water’. Has this condition been corrected and what are your expectations?
My left heart has experienced very strong enlargement and my left ventricle was estimated to be about 61% of its original size. After my current surgery, my left ventricle is about 50% smaller than the original size. But I felt better than I had in a long time. The surgeon removed the left ventricle and my heart work has been very helpful. I am always pushing myself harder to make sure I am doing all that I can. It has been a very positive experience. My chances of having another heart problem are a very small percentage. The only time my left ventricle has had to work overtime is when my right ventricle is working. My heart’s main function now is to deliver blood to my lungs. However, when my right ventricle delivers oxygenated blood to my brain I feel very fatigued. It is difficult to maintain my level of energy for a full day, especially as we are so busy here at St. Johns. We are expected to be patient in spite of the unacceptably long hours that we work and the long commute to Birmingham. After this operation and our care we have been very pleased with the excellent aftercare that our nurse Kelly Booth gave us.
Q: My upper left incision is of 4cm. It feels like a big spot and every time I go to the toilet it hurts. Do you have any suggestions for improving the pain, and any warning signs for me to watch out for?
The image above shows my upper left incision. You can easily see that it is approximately 4cm long. I was diagnosed with sternoclavicular (OC) (rhabdomyolosarcoma) IBD sometime during the period in which my upper left arm was fused. The pain came back shortly after the first operations and it can be quite painful when I have a bowel movement. I am conscious of the mark, so I find it helpful to avoid long stretches of time with the incision open. A frequent visitor since last January, my father recently suggested I attach a bandage and clip it with an elastic loop to address this issue. Although it would be better for me to remove the bandage and then clip the loop, he suggested that tape would be better for the time being. Although tape is recommended when an incision is so large, it is very painful and frequently causes aches in the muscles of the lower arm. After about 2 hours of direct shooting pressure, the bandage will gradually relieve the pain. I am now cutting out good material to keep the edges smooth and smooth.
Q: What about my back and knees? I have a hard time sleeping with them as they are not put together correctly. Do you have any suggestions?
When my right leg has collapsed, I often find myself trying to keep my left leg up, and in the process my left knee can move over to my left side. My legs are just lumpy and this combination of positions puts stress on my knees.