Walking into a new and brighter life.

Walking into a new and brighter life.

The healthy me

The healthy me

Finding your way around

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This I know.................

This I know.................

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is a letter that was posted on BecomeAnEx.org a quit smoking site that I joined to quit smoking once I was diagnosed.  It touched me so much I wanted to post it here.

Dear Kellie,
August 27, 2010 by pir8fan Comments (9)

You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I sure would like to meet you! I have read your words and marveled at your courage for a while now! I look around and see so many with so much to be thankful for who "try" to quit smoking! We sit around our keyboards and pat each other on the back and talk about how hard it is to quit! We do not discuss the hardships associated with not quitting! Those reallties are a little too scary to talk about! Where is our courage?

Then we come to you! In an open and frank discussion of your real life, you force, us to look into the mirror. And often we turn away, at a loss for words. How hard it must be to spend your life trying to divert us from the trap you fell into, and seeing the indifference to your warning! Yet you summon up another snifter of courage, and and battle on. You struggle for everyone of us, in a tireless manner, and never looking for anything in return! I wish I had something to offer you, besides my unwavering respect! That and this salute to true courage!

One day we shall all take our last breath before we go and stand before our Maker. Shakespear said thru the words of Jullis Caesar " Cowards die many times before their death, but the valiant taste of death but once." I pray that we might all face our future with the courage you display everyday. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you face each new challenge. Forever, Tommy


hear! hear!

Dawn 2 days ago

well said! Thanks

onvacation 2 days ago

Thank-you for including us in this moving letter to this awesome woman!

LaurieA 2 days ago

Tommy - You are such a dear man! Thank you for this beautiful letter to Kellie. I have always said that I can't even imagine how difficult this journey of quitting would be if I wasn't in the best of health. Those who do it amaze me...those who do it and help others do it - have "true courage" as you said! Thank you!

Strudel 2 days ago

I feel privileged to be part of this letter. God bless Kellie and her efforts to help save others from the ugly truths of the effect of smoking. Everyday I see more and more people here that have been touched by her and there lives forever changed for the bettter. I have no doubt many lives will be saved because of her courage. Thanks Tommy for your beautiful touching tribute.

marie Burgess 2 days ago

Very powerful. Everyone needs to read what she has to say. I dare anyone to feel sorry for themselfs afterwards. God bless this dear woman.

daisy 2 days ago

I came in this morning and saw this, looked away, started reading, stopped, and then through teary eyes finished reading it. It took me a little longer to be able to read the comments.

Why is it that hearing nice things is more difficult than hearing the bad? Thank you for the beautiful words, it is humbling, As much as you say I have helped someone else, I feel they have helped me. Anyway, I am trying to find of a nice way to show my appreciation and how much it means to hear such nice and kind words.... I am just stumbling. Thank you too <3 br="br">
Kellie yesterday

I went back and read my blogs today and noticed that the very first day I quit, on my very first blog, the very first person to reply is our dear Kellie!!! <3 br="br">
Dawn yesterday

Mom, I love you and this sweet man Tommy has made it clear what an incredible woman you are and what strength you have. Through all of this pain and sadness there will come happiness. You helped me be the strong woman I am today so I know with the strenth and power in you, you will make it through this and help people along the way. I love you and I am glad others are seeing what we've seen all along! You are my strength... You are my world... I love you!

Brittney yesterday

Getting used to the new me

I got home yesterday from my post-op appointment with my surgeon.  
First they removed all my stitches and said my wounds are healing nicely.  They said 2 or 3 more weeks and I can swim again and take baths (yeah!!).  They still want me to stay on my pain medication full time and take the next 2 weeks easy.  But, then I can begin to exercise again!

I have an oxymeter which tells me by putting it on my finger what my O2 saturation level is and my heart rate.    Since surgery I have used it often to see if the surgery worked.  Most the time I had really good stats, but as before when I got up and worked a little my heart rate would sore and my O2 level would drop.

The doctors told me to try very hard not to use it.  To listen to my body as to when to slow down, sit down and deep breath, and when I may need a little O2.  That I have to build up my core again and become stronger before I can cut down and come off the O2 while exercising, or activity.

I have to say it is hard for me to live now as a healthy person.  I want to pick up that oxymeter and use it always to tell me when I am O.K. and when I am not.  I have a very hard time trusting myself to be responsible for me.  So, I am still using the oxymeter every so often.  

I will get used to the new health plan.  It has changed 100%.  No O2!  Wow!  For a while I will still carry it with me... just in case.  But, chances are I will not need it.  I can control it myself.  I have to keep telling myself that.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My 5 days post surgery

The 22nd as planned I arrived at the hospital at 6:30 for my surgery at 7:00.  Brittney, Bill and Layla were there with me and my brother was on his way from his hotel to reach me before I went "under".

Honestly, I don't recall that day or the 23rd and 24th.  Parts of those days are sketchy.  Bill, Britt and Greg left by Friday the 24th.  I was under the impression that Bill or Brittney would stay with me at the hospital until my release... taking turns and coming back to Klamath Falls in-between.  The nursing staff told them I needed rest and they didn't want them in my room.  I kept telling them to just leave and go home and take care of things, that I had good nurses and I would just be laying around being drugged and the hospital staff could take care of whatever I needed.

The 22nd through the 24th I was in the Trauma ICU.  I was well cared for, fed, bathed or washed off, helped to the commode, had my I.V.'s flushed every day, was given all my medications, had water or ice chips without even asking.  They were good nurses who knew what I needed before I even asked for it.

Then around the evening of the 24th they told me as soon as a bed was ready on the recovery ward I would be moved.  Friday night/Saturday morning around midnight I was transferred.  

Being on such heavy drugs I had been hallucinating the entire time and getting moved late night in the dark surely fed into my paranoia.  So began the worse experience of my life.  Each day several times Bill, Brittney, Greg and Robbin (my brothers) would call and ask how I was doing.  Even in my darkest times I always told them "fine".  I didn't want anyone to think they had to drop what the were doing and run to take care of me.  

I can't honestly remember much of the next 3 days so I will only comment on what I know to be fact.

In this room my door stayed shut and the lights remained off, unless a doctor came in the check my tubes or remove them and my epidural, the rest of the time I remained in the dark.  Yes, there was a T.V. but I could figure out how to change the channels.  I slept most of the time.  I was supposed to be given a shot in the stomach once a day to help keeps clots from forming, out of 3 days there.. I got only one shot.  I would call the nurse to help me to the bathroom and she would say back on the speaker that it would be a while.  So, I always got up by myself to use the bathroom.  They had one of those buckets in it to measure stuff.  The entire time there no one checked it, and I was the only one to empty it.  I never was cleaned up or washed.  I through up one day all over my bedding and I called the nurse, she came in and removed the sheets and changed the sheets.  I asked her for new clothes and a washcloth.. nada.
I would occasionally leak urine on my bed and just sit in it until I had enough stamina to get up and get new underwear and a "leak pad".

Sunday night the doctor came in and took out the last chest tube.  I began to tell him how filthy I felt and that I had asked for help but no one ever showed up.  He was the one to tell me I needed to go home.  That I was at more risk being in the hospital for germs and bacteria and pneumonia.  So, Monday morning I called Britt and told her to come and get me.  

My conclusion and advice to anyone facing a major surgery is this.......
Family is there to help you.  I should have never thought I was a burden to them, and insisted that someone stay there with me.  When you are in the hospital alone you are at the mercy of the staff.  If you have someone there on  your behalf then they can demand a bath, or less drugs, or new clothes, or just better care.  That's my surgical story.

I am doing fine at home.  
Thank everyone for their prayers.  I needed every one of them.

Lung Volume Surgery benefits to emphysema patients

Lung-volume reduction surgery benefits emphysema patients

By Gila Z. Reckess
A procedure known as lung-volume reduction surgery (LVRS) appears to improve overall health and quality of life for individuals with end-stage emphysema, and these effects last as long as five years in more than half of this population, according to School of Medicine researchers.
The findings appear in the March issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
Principal investigator Joel D. Cooper, M.D. (right), the Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and head of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stephen S. Lefrak, M.D., medical director of the Lung-Volume Reduction Program, and their colleagues found that the success of lung-volume reduction surgery in patients with severe emphysema is overwhelming. – Photo by Bob Boston
The procedure was developed at the School of Medicine in 1993 by the study’s principal investigator, Joel D. Cooper, M.D., the Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and head of the Division of Cardio-thoracic Surgery.
“Evidence of the success of this surgery in patients with severe emphysema is overwhelming, and these latest findings confirm and underscore its potential for treating this critically ill population,” Cooper said. “This publication represents a major, interdisciplinary team effort, which depended on expertise from a variety of areas, including pulmonary medicine, anesthesiology and nurse coordination.”
Emphysema is characterized by destruction and overinflation of the lungs. As the lungs become progressively bloated, they fill the chest cavity and thorax, making it difficult to expand and contract during normal breathing.
The disease relentlessly progresses and is responsible for close to 17,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
In select patients, LVRS provides an alternative to lung transplantation, which until recently was the only option for patients with end-stage lung disease that cannot be controlled with drugs. By removing the most diseased portions of the lung, the procedure provides the lungs with more room to expand within the chest cavity.
Though LVRS is not a cure for emphysema, studies suggest that the surgery increases breathing capacity by more than 50 percent. Such improvements allow otherwise debilitated individuals to resume many normal, daily activities, including moderate exercise.
This study is the first to examine the long-term endurance of patients following surgery.
The research team maintained a detailed database of lung function and quality-of-life assessments for the first 250 patients who underwent LVRS at Barnes-Jewish Hospital between January 1993 and June 2000.
Follow-up evaluations were performed six months and one year after surgery and again each year afterward. Patients were followed for an average of 4.8 years.
All participants first were enrolled in a rehabilitation program for about three months prior to surgery and were given medical and dietary programs to make sure they were as healthy as possible for the operation. They also remained on fitness and medical regimens after surgery.
At the conclusion of the study, more than 60 percent of the 250 patients were still alive, and only 18 patients had received a lung transplant since undergoing LVRS. Without surgery, it is estimated that half of the 250 patients would have died within three years and that those still alive after five years would have significantly deteriorated.
Overall, the surviving LVRS patients still had measurable improvements in lung function after five years. For example, patients were tested to see how much air they could blow out in one second, a measurement known as forced expiratory volume.
Six months after surgery, 95 percent of patients had improved on this test by an average of 54 percent. After five years, 53 percent of patients still had better scores than before surgery, though they were only 7 percent better.
The team also measured the amount of air left in the lungs after a deep exhale, a value called residual volume. People with healthy lungs have low residual-volume scores because very little air remains in the chest cavity after breathing out.
Evaluations six months and one year after surgery revealed that 90 percent of participants had improved residual-volume scores, and that residual-volume values declined an average of 30 percent. After five years, 79 percent still had better residual-volume scores than before surgery, and the average improvement was 14 percent better than pre-surgery scores.
Quality-of-life assessments also were positive: Almost 80 percent of patients still reported better quality-of-life scores five years after surgery than before surgery.
“This procedure is not a cure for emphysema,” Cooper said. “No matter how successful the operation, emphysema continues to degrade the lungs and progressively impairs breathing.
“However, our results confirm that LVRS can in fact extend patients’ lives and allow them to continue participating in normal activities of daily living.”
Determining selection criteria is one of the most controversial issues in measuring the effectiveness of LVRS. Therefore, Cooper’s team analyzed data from patients with potential risk factors.
The team found that individuals who required surgery to the lower portion of the lungs benefited from the procedure, but their lung function degraded faster than in individuals with damage to the upper portion of the lungs. Other identified risk factors include advanced age, male gender and very low forced expiratory volume.
“We strongly believe that patient selection is one of the keys to success for this procedure,” Cooper said. “With rigorous preoperative preparation and stringent participation criteria, lung-volume reduction surgery appears to improve life expectancy and quality of life for patients who otherwise have very poor prognoses.”