Lobectomy in 1997.

My lobectomy was my first thought when I woke up that morning. It was 4 AM.  During the type of lung surgery that I would have, they had to spread my ribs. It was an uneasy thought, the removal of my lower right lobe that contained a fast growing cancer. Although it was caught early, it needed to come out.

I’m sure that my aura of fear strode in ahead of me through the hospital doors at 4 AM. The words lung surgery kept echoing through my mind. I was petrified. So far I had been able to swallow all of my dry heaves like a frog swallowing mosquitoes, a lot of them. But it was getting more difficult.


Lung Surgery
Illustration of lungs


I had a very sappy good by with Dave but I didn’t want to let go of him.  Maybe I could take him with me to hold my hand? The transporter guy wheeled to an elevator to bring me to the operating room. I remember trying to hold back tears but my dam broke, tears started running down my cheeks like storm rivulets from rain on a window.

After the transporter guy wheeled me into the pre-op room the nurse quickly gave me a Valium and took my patch off. Then he inserted a needle into my spine to numb me from chest down. https://www.lifespan.org/conditions-treatments/cancer-source/making-the-decision-to-have-surgery-for-lung-cancer

I am a nosy person and before I could ask any questions about my lung surgery or see my doctor, the lead intern said, “Let’s put her out.” And bingo, I went out like a boxer on his last hit. When I woke up again in the step-down recovery room I was not alone. There was a woman next to me, smiling at me and another patient, a male, on the other side of a curtain who was making very strange noises, like a construction worker who whistles at you and then spits.Finally Dave came in and told me what my surgeon had told him. It was a “standard”  lower-right lobectomy. Outside of trouble with an IV I was very comfortable there.

I was finally transferred to a semi-private room a day later. Then the road to recovery really began. The nurse had me try to walk in the hall, but it took longer to load my walker than my very short walk took. She had to load all of the lines and tubes coming out of me into the basket of my walker. I had to push my IV pole around,  I was like a homeless octopus, carrying all of my worldly goods, and looked as miserable. I grew stronger everyday although I was constantly haunted by my cravings to smoke. It made me bitchy and sometimes uncooperative. When the nurse came in to wake me for a “nice” walk I spoke my mind. But I was nice to the doctor who removed my epidural.

Finally the intern who said, “put her out” in the ER walked into my room. He said that he was going to remove my chest tubes. He was rough and just grabbed the tubes and pulled after telling me that it would hurt. And it did, stinging like a colony of red ants on meth.  My own surgeon came in later and removed my third tube. It didn’t hurt any less. He told me to use the Voldyne Incentive Spirometer. It is a device used to help keep your lungs healthy after surgery. It’s such a mean way of inflating my lungs. But I didn’t want pneumonia, so I gave it my best shot. When I exhaled forcefully and tried to get that stupid bead to climb higher and higher it was like trying to discharge a pipe filled with dried cement!

Cancer blog
Voldyne Spirometer



The doctor did not have any gloves on, amazing. He sniffed a lot and should have worn a mask. The removal of my tube was similar but with two tubes and not one.

My doctor finally discharged me on my 4th day. I packed for this operation with abandon, I didn’t know what to bring so I packed all of my cosmetics, lotions and potions and hair products. But I forgot to pack a change of clothing for going home and that put me in an embarrassing situation! Dave also forgot to bring some so I was outside the hospital, in downtown Providence, RI  waiting for his car to pull up, wearing my hospital gown and robe. But I would finally be off, hopefully to a new, healthier life and see if I could get another pain pill. Other than basic instructions for “after surgery” care no one prepared me for real life, both physically or mentally.

When we got home I finally got some welcomed food and rested. My husband would be my major domo ( as my favorite aunt use to say) for the next month. He gave me all moral support that I would need to get through my next steps.



3 thoughts on “Lobectomy

  1. Maureen says:

    Raw, painful (physical and emotional ) honest memories, sprinkled with humor, grace and love. (of course your brought your make up, hair products… it’s why I love you!)

  2. Pingback: Lobectomy | Cancer Blog | My 20 Years with Cancer

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