Good News: Lungs Partially Collapsed
This hasn’t been my best week. The aftereffects of the surgery linger, making me tired and grumpy. I’ve been taking it out on our mailman, berating him each day for the assortment of coupon books, landscaping ads and women’s clothing catalogues with which he clogs my mailbox. “You can’t find a personal letter?” I ask him. “Something written in ink? Or a rebate check? Is it too much to deliver Ed McMahon and ten-foot cardboard check?” He’s not very friendly, though. He just looks at me. I don’t think he’s had a good answer to any of these reasonable questions. Just shoves another stack of fundraising letters in my face.
Discomfort. This is the term that best captures the medical condition within my chest. Or maybe cancer. It’s one of these things. I had expected to be fully functional by now – back in the gym working out, staying up after the kids go to bed to get some work done, winning back my national Twister title. I’m not there yet, though. I find myself sore and tired and coughing a lot. Falling asleep early. If I note this frustration to people, they stare at me and say: “You just had major surgery three weeks ago.” True — but they did it via television. Can Desperate Housewives Meets Grey’s Anatomy constitute major surgery?
In any case, prior to the surgery the doc mentioned that I should count on being out of commission for maybe two weeks, as I’d be on heavy pain meds and should not drive. I took this to mean that pain wasn’t really the issue that would prevent my going back to work but the drugs and the potential to be caught driving like Lindsey Lohan during a night out with the girls. And while it’s true, as my mother points out, that the hospital discharge papers handed to me by the nurse said I could not go back to work for three weeks, that timeframe did not gibe with what the docs said and seemed more like a CYA salute to liability than actual medical advice.
So what’s the problem? My chest incision remains both numb and stingy. (Don’t give me grief over the word stingy; I like it and this is my blog.) I find that my incessant coughing freaks out people who assume I’m spraying bacteria and virus all over the place during flu season. My lungs feel constricted, like they did when I was a child and would get serious asthma. Something feels swollen but I’m not even sure what. And fatigue. Earlier this week I put in a long day at work – 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Keep in mind that I’m a PR exec, not a lumberjack. My work is not physically challenging (except for one particular client that always requires me to break dance before sitting down for a meeting). And the “long day” was simply a reception and dinner I had to attend after work. So the “work” was eating a plate of mushroom ravioli followed with an exquisite chocolate tart.
I couldn’t get out of bed the next morning.
I woke up sick and exhausted. I took a shower, went to work and drank three cups of coffee figuring I would snap out of it. No deal. I had to go home and sit on the couch with my laptop to finish the day. When the mailman came, I was even too tired to go out and yell at him. All I could do was open the window and shake my fist at him.
Here’s the good news: I received the radiologist’s report from the x-rays they took of my lungs last time I was down in Durham and it turns out that my right lung is still collapsed. I feel that this explains a lot. I excitedly forwarded the news to Dena who responded that she too was “thrilled my lungs were collapsed.” Her comment may have been ironic; sometimes I think Dena mocks me.
Why is this good news? Well, the lung is gradually re-inflating, and we’re moving in the right direction so I don’t think there is any concern about this being permanent. But the asthmatic feeling of my bronchial tubes being closed suddenly makes sense – because they are! The unceasing coughing makes sense for this reason as well. I would think it would also partially account for the fatigue (along with the natural recovery process from reality TV surgery )
This is comforting to me. This means it’s not something more sinister – like Ebola. It means that these frustrating symptoms will fade sooner or later.
It means that when Kate beats me at Scooby Doo Wii or Josie completes her puzzle faster than I do, I can still blame it on imploded lungs. This lung thing is something I can milk for the foreseeable future. When Dena asks (tells) me to clean the kitchen tonight, I can gesture at my lung and say: “Really?”