Ok, the ENT team came in at 6:30 AM and pulled the tube out of my neck, covered it with dressing, and left me breathing from my mouth. All the backpressure is gone with the tube out (as long as I don't cough or try to talk). The first dressing was too loose…regular breaths were still going in/out of the hole. I think it was because my neck was not cleaned before the first dressing was put on, so it didn't stick very well. So, floor nurse helped to re-dress it and we sealed it better. I do need to hold it tight with my hand when I talk or cough, but all my normal breathing is now going in and out of my mouth and nose.
And, my need to cough almost immediately went away, too. Something about installing a foreign object in your throat must irritate things. Of course, when I needed that to have an airway, it was worth putting up with. But, glad that part is over.
I am now released from the hospital (just waiting for my ride to get here). Still have the tube in my stomach…it takes a release from several specialists (nutritionist, speech/swallow therapist, maybe others) and then the controlling doctor. I haven't figured out who the controlling doctor is, yet. I have so many it is difficult to know, sometimes, who to ask what. But, I can probably get this out of the way in the next week or so. It doesn't really affect my day-to-day, but is a bit of an annoyance I could do without.
Ok, back to the salt mines, tomorrow. Actually got quite a bit of work done this morning. But, with all the night-time interruptions the hospital provides for free, plus the early wake-up call by the ENTs, I suspect I'm going to be ready for a bit of a nap by the time I make it back to my house. Or maybe a snack, first (lunch at the hospital was an uninspired burger that was just a patty on buns…most of the food here is quite good but the burger wasn't so delicious).
Ok, the doctor went in with the intention of cutting out some suspect tissue for biopsy, and to evaluate for trach tube removal. But, when he scoped me, he couldn't find any suspect tissue. So, not nearly as sore as I had anticipated (just a contusion under my tongue from where my mouth was wedged open). I did wake up with the trach tube still in place…but the plan is to keep it fully plugged overnight and make sure my O2 stays good, then take it out tomorrow morning and monitor me for a few hours before sending me home.
So, stuck in a room for another 20 hours or so, but getting a few work tasks (and blog updates) done. I hear the dinner bell ringing…gotta go eat, now.
Great news from my Surgical Oncologist appointment, today. The trach tube is coming out! On the one hand, this can't happen soon enough. On the other…I have an engineer coming from Tokyo next week and must be in the office to work with him. So, soon enough is delayed by a week. Since I'll need to stay in the hospital for at least 24 hours, it looks like this will get scheduled for the week of February 19.
While he's in there, he'll also be grabbing some tissue to biopsy. There are a couple of "hot spots" that showed up on the PET scan that are almost certainly just inflamed non-cancerous tissue areas, but a biopsy will provide complete certainty. Can't have too much certainty.
Looked at the pics from the PET scan, and can't believe how big the cystic areas are. Also difficult to believe that the tumor was actually much bigger than the cysts. Hoping that they go down in size over time…they do press on my vocal chords and trachea and are probably contributing to my not having any voice over a whisper. As of now, we are just going to see what time will achieve.
So, next up will be several spoonfuls of barium on Friday to see which way the food goes. I'm still 100% eating by mouth (with a little aspiration that doesn't get very far down the wrong way and is easily cough cleared). But, I'm about 95% liquid by tube. I'm hopeful that removing the trach tube will allow my throat to better mobilize and improve liquid swallowing so that I can get the stomach tube removed, too.
Looking forward to someday having only those tubes that I was born with.
I stopped shaving my head back last September. Grew a fairly long (for me) fringe. But, my hair is so fine, it tends to drift up and down with wind, static electricity, or improper thoughts. I suppose I could put some hair gel on it, but not fond of the greasy look (or feel). So, Tuesday I shaved it all off.
Between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning that is all I did. But, since then people who have seen me frequently during treatments suddenly started telling me how much healthier I looked. At first I really couldn't figure out wh,y all of a sudden, I started getting that comment. And, it wasn't just one or two people. It was several people in different departments at UTSW, several people at my office…
Then I realized…hair makes me look sick. Not like badass "Dude, that is one sick set of wheels!" sick. More like "Maybe you should go lie down for a while" sick.
So, I'm back to a smooth, healthier-looking pate.