[Day 816] Recovering from lobectomy

The day after my surgery, also Dr. David birthday — Dec 14th, 2018

My lobectomy surgery happened on December 13th, 2018 — just three days before my birthday. I made thousands of hard decision in my life; however, the decision of lobectomy surgery was the hardest.

I still cannot forget the pain when I first woke up from my pleurodesis surgery in July. It was so painful to the point that I feel death would be easier. However, I made it through! I am not gonna lie nor overreact about the pain, people are handling pain differently. My anxiety was definitely not helpful when it comes to pain management.

Pre-surgery

After four rounds of chemo, my tumor reduced by half size — which is terrific. I meet with Dr. David again and discuss the expectations for post-surgery recovery. She connected me with another patient who just had similar surgery about 2 weeks earlier. I didn’t ask her what stage she is but if a 77-year-old woman can handle this surgery, I should be able to as well.

The pain management program starts three days before the surgery. A good friend of mine flew to Los Angeles one day before — and we decided to go to Hsi Lai Temple to ask for Buddha’s blessings.

Joe made steak for my last meal before the surgery — Los Angeles Dec 12th, 2018

Post-surgery

The surgery started around 7.30 am, and I started to gain conscious around 2 pm. However, I was in the recovery room until 4.30 until the nurse started transferred me to my room on the 9th floor. Due to the breathing tube during the surgery, I was not able to talk. I felt really thirsty and kept asking for water. A couple hours later, I felt comfortable enough and asked the nurse to help me sit up. I immediately felt nausea and extremely sleepy — before I know what was going on, the nurses called “CODE MATE” (before Code Blue) because I have fainted.

It was quite a scene when we have at least 20 doctors and nurses responded and ran to my room immediately. I could hear everything and everyone, yet too weak to respond. My blood pressure was too low. They kicked all of my family out of the room and tried to get access to my vein. There are at least 4 nurses, two on each side tried to poke everywhere on my arms. At some point, a doctor asked me if he can poke my neck, and I said NO. I started hearing Dr. David’s voice when she said, “No, I don’t think she needs blood transfusion”

I still need to get a blood transfusion the next day since my blood hemoglobin dropped below 7. It was the first blood transfusion in my life — and I’m an O Rh-positive blood type.

Joe captured this photo the day of my surgery but didn’t send it to me until I was discharged

I started to stand up and walk the next day, very slowly with help, cheering, and support from nurse, my family, and friends. Joe stayed with me in the hospital for 2 nights — we watched La La Land and Breathe together.

Dr. David stopped by every day to make sure that I am recovered well. My friend from Vietnam, Tho, arrived at the hospital on my birthday and brought me my favorite dessert, mungbean cake. We ended up spending a couple hours at the hospital playing “Head Up!” game with Joe, Sara, and Troy. The nurse and physician of the 9th floor came to my room with a cupcake and sang Happy Birthday!

Walking through the desert garden in Huntington Library three weeks post-surgery

Los Angeles, Jan 8th, 2019