Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Joys of Having Surgery with CML!

Getting ready
First things first! I apologize for my disappearance and I thank all of you that have messaged me privately, to make sure I was alright, and had not fallen off this side of the earth!

As per my last post, I was scheduled to have rotator cuff surgery on Oct. 27, 2017. I had no idea what I was in store for, and had no idea, just how out of commission, I would be!

As with all surgeries, you must pass a pre-op exam, to be cleared for surgery. Mine went something like this...."While otherwise healthy, you do have cancer. You are at risk for bleeding, and you have a significant pleural effusion, of your left lung."

I quickly explained that I would be ceasing to take my leukemia medication (Sprycel) prior to, and a few days after the surgery, to deal with the minimal risk of bleeding, and that I had had a thoracentesis a week prior, with 1.7 liters removed. I explained that I had spoken to my oncologist, and the pulmonologist, and they had both given me a green light.

The surgery "Poo-Bah" said while all of that is fine and dandy, he wanted me to have ANOTHER thoracentesis the day before! He said that if I did that, with the other precautions in place, he would clear me for the surgery.

Sooooo, I bit the bullet, and had another thoracentesis,which removed another, 1.3 liters of fluid, which shows the seriousness of the recurring fluid; I showed up the next morning with my fingers crossed; for surgery.

Of course I had already spoken to my surgeon, in depth, about the surgery and the risks, all surrounding my left lung, so he was pleased that I had had the second thoracentesis. There was concern that the nerve block might cause some respiratory distress; this coupled with anesthesia and pain meds, it was determined that the typical outpatient surgery, would be an inpatient surgery, for me. We figured on a one night stay.......HA!

The competence and concern of the surgical staff, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon and his assistant, were top notch! I felt that I was in very good, caring hands. After speaking to the anesthesiologist, and having another chest x-ray, (yes, there was still fluid) we decided to do a moderate block, hoping to help get me through the most painful hours, following surgery.

I have to tell you, that the block was the weirdest feeling sensation I have ever felt! I watched as he located the nerves by ultrasound, and then injected the medication, this, was facinating, to me; then as my hand and arm began to lose sensation, I marveled at how quickly my arm became completely paralyzed. No matter how hard I tried to use my brain to move my arm, it would not budge, it felt as though it weighed a literal ton. I have such empathy for those who are truly paralyzed, and cannot even begin to grasp how frustrating, and infuriating this must be.

What a disturbing eye opener.

The surgeon came in and said that he was optimistic that the surgery would be successful, and then we were on our way!

As with all surgeries, I suppose, it seemed to be over in a flash; I woke up in my sling, which fortunately I had adapted with a wool-like, soft fabric, to protect my sensitive skin.

I was told that everything went really well, and that now I had to face the most difficult part; healing and regaining use of my arm.

I was medicated for nausea and sent to my room. The most difficult part of post-op, was getting comfortable. The block wore off in the middle of the night and the pain began! NO FUN! Every single nurse that came in, told me that shoulders are the absolute worst orthopedic surgeries; which is the reason that I did not allow myself to research the surgery, prior to having it, as I don't think that I would have gone through with it! They cared for me with great empathy, and did their best to keep me comfortable.

I quickly realized that my hope of not having to take anything stronger than Tylenol, was not a reality, so I took the Hydrocodone that they offered, which caused me to itch, and become nauseous, which was no surprise; but did help with the pain. I took Zofran, and Benydral,to help with the itching and nausea, and lots and lots of ice!

I survived the night, but quickly questioned my choice to have this surgery in the first place; I was miserable, in pain and wondered how I was going to survive! I told myseslf I was being a big baby, but I am telling you, this surgery SUCKS! Not only is it difficult to do anything, the pain is quite severe. Protect your shoulders at all costs; you do NOT want to have to got through this!

Heart Light!
The surgeon came in after the surgery, and again in the morning,and said that it went really, really well;  that helped to deal with the pain; having hope for a strong shoulder without constant and continual pain, in my every day life. I just had to "get there"!

I awoke, thinking that I was going to be going home, and I was quite surprised when they told me that I was going to be staying another night; apparently my oxygen saturation was too low, to even consider letting me go home; but truth be told, I couldn't even begin to imagine the trek home, so I was grateful to just stay put.

 I settled in for another night of misery, and noticed that the compression bandage that was on my shoulder, was begining to irritate my skin. I started to lift it, around the edges, away from my skin, and tried to get myself as comfortable as possible. My oxygen monitor kept going off until they insisted that I stay on oxygen continually; which meant yet another, miserable night in the hospital. Between the pain, and the itching that was beginning to happen on the backside of my shoulder, I really questioned my decision, once again, to have this surgery, and I just wanted to cry.

The surgeon came in bright and early in the morning, and I told him about the itching that was starting to occur under the compression bandage; he immediately removed it and said it was a bit red, but glad I told him, so it could be removed before any more irritation could occur.

He told me to keep on keeping on, and that things should start to get better over the next few days.
At some point, I remembered that my "personal" doctor was on call for the weekend, which I knew was a great thing. She came in, checked me out, and got busy discharging me! Because of my low oxygen levels, I had to go home on oxygen, but she had that set up in no time. Thank God for small favors.

The ride home was no fun at all, and since we live on a dirt road, the last few miles were the worst; but to my surprise,  waiting in our driveway was Norco; the oxygen people! I swear, every single place should be as on top of things, as the medical community is here, in Boise.

It didn't take long to get the oxygen and ice machines, up and running, and for me to settle in and try to figure out a way to be relatively comfortable, for the next six to seven weeks; this was going to be an easy task, but I was up for the challenge!

THIS is why I disappeared, and neglected my blog, and all of my other online, social connections!
I am sorry, but I promise to get all caught up, ASAP!

It seems, that having surgery, while living with cancer, really is a bit more complicated!


  1. Glad the surgery went ok and that you are home!

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog but certainly have sympathy for all you're enduring. WE do wish you well, strength, no more complications and healing that will get you back to a pain-free way of life. Love and hugs to you. z

    1. Thank you Steve, I hope to be back on the dance floor, soon!

  3. Well I’m glad you’re recovered from that surgery. I hope you’re able to use your shoulder again too. I have to tell you, that sensation you had in your arm is the very same sensation I had in my arms and legs when I had my Stroke in September. It lasted for about 8 hours and then then it took about 36 hours to completely go away. I thought to myself as you did, this has to be so difficult to live with. My best to you. You’re a strong person!

  4. OMG Michelle! My daughter has had 2 rotor cuff surgeries, but at least she didn't have all the CML related issues you have.
    After my hip replacement last November, I was on PCA assisted oxycodeine drip for 2 days and our protocol is you must be on continual oxygen, so with your lung issues would have been essential.
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery and keep taking the strong meds to cope with the pain. You won't do your physio properly without it xxxx


Bricks for the Brave!!