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Barefoot's 1914 Ford "Tin Lizzie" Saga - 2008

Getting Out -- When I Could In 2008

December 8, 2008 --
This is a long overdue update, having left folks in limbo the last of Decembeer 2007, with a note that I had a VA appointment the day after Christmas 2007...

Well, I made the appointment and since then 2008 has been a rough year for me...

At the VA they did the usual, blood tests and all, to make sure I was still alive, then CT and MRI scans to see what was going on inside... within hours I was scheduled for lung surgery January 24... scheduling me into Seattle VA the 21st.

I drove the old Subaru there throough fog and rain and snow arriving at dusk the 21st and was put up in a nearby hotel. The 22nd was devoted to more tests, and the 23rd I was checked into a bed in the hospital and prepped for surgery..

About 9am the 24th they loaded me on a gurney, IV and all, and wheeled me to surgery.. I don't remember much, if anything of the rest of the day..

The next day, I think???, I woke in no pain, but expecting I had been split open to remove the tumor in the upper right lobe of my lung.... Instead I found I had had a tracheotomy, a small incision in my right chest about 3 ribs down, one in my back about the same level and one in my right armpit...???

When I asked about it the nurse explained how they had done the surgery almost by remote control, using miniature video camera and lights and high tech instruments inside me that went in and snipped it all out, and stapled the incisions closed, the doctor doing his work via a video screen,... A real wonder to me... I did not see the instruments.. but I can imagine.

Pain was minimal, and I was up and about the 26th, with IV and urinary catheter stand as traveling companions, making a short tour of the post-op area.

Monday the 28th they removed the catheter and IV and released me back to the hotel. Tuesday they issued me meds to take home to Idaho, and released me to travel home on Wednesday the 30th.

I did not take the pain-pill Wednesday morning as they put me in la-la land, but by the time I got to Spokane I damn sure needed one, but managed to make it to Post Falls and home and bed...crashed...

Recovery was relatively quick, stitches out in 10 days at the Spokane VA, and with no apparent loss of lung capacity...

Lizzie sat outside in the weather the rest of the winter and spring, driven locally on warm days, back and forth to AA meetings and to deliver parts and pick up material for my nephew's screw-machine business..

I was able to make several AA campouts locally after Memorial Day and through the summer, taking the T to all of them.

The last of September an email friend came from Florida to tour the area with me...

We took off September 30th in the Model T to view the beauties and wonders of western Montana, North Idaho and eastern Washington in the fall as the colors changed....  

We went across US 2 to the confluence of the Yaak and Kootenai rivers near Troy and camped, then on to Glacier the next day, catching a meeting in Columbia Falls and staying witih friends, up Going To The Sun hyway to the top of Logan pass and back to friends the next day.  

I started having daily headaches but controllable with Ibupropen.  

Down the Flathead valley and Bitterroot valley to Lolo and Lolo Hotsprings, camping at the Lee Creek campground, only ones there. The next day a delightful morning in the hot springs, then down the Lochsa river gorge to Kendrick, Idaho, and a meeting, staying witih a friend.  

On back north to St. Maries and Lake Coeur d'Alene, Cataldo Mission, Kellogg and Wallace, Murray and the north fork of the Coeur d'Alene river, and back to Post Falls.....headaches worse but controllable...  

Next day we headed north into Washington via Newport to Metaline Falls, backtracking a few miles to Tiger pass and US2 to Colville and Kettle Falls...caught a meeting there, and as it had cooled and started to drizzle got a motel a block from the meeting hall ... headache became blinding...Ibu brought it down to where I slept and enough in the morning where I could get back on the road Tuesday morning.   

Down the Columbia to theWellpinit cutoff to Spokane and home....and bed...  

Wednesday  morning headache 10-12 on a scale of 1-10..suffered through the day until about 5pm, then decided I better go to Spokane VA and find out what was wrong...  

Got to emergency about 6, only one there, Thank God, told them the problem, blinding headaches, loss of gait and balance... VA doc said "Unh Hunh, we are going to MRI....2 hours later he told me I had a 35 x 35 x 34mm tumor, golf ball size, in the Left cerubellum and that as soon as they could find a neuro-surgeon and a bed they would transport me....  

By midnight or 1am I am loaded in an ambulance bouncing through the notoriously rough streets of Spokane to  Sacred Heart Hospital, a bed and a morphine drip... ahh, a blessing, no pain....Surgeon came in about daybreak, told me he would try to schedule Friday morning.. rest of Thursday is a blank.  

Friday morning early (Oct 10) doc came by, told me I was scheduled for 10am, got my approvals for whatever needed to be done.... said he would get out his hammer and chisels, pistol drill and saber saw and open me up.....he did, about a 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 hole now held in place with titanium plates and screws, all tight, no loose screws.  

ICU about 2pm and the rest of that day...only fleeting consciousness...  

Next day new top floor room with beautiful view all the way into Idaho..until release Tuesday October 14......  

My energy level since surgery has been INERT, ZIP, unable to focus my mind or eyes or body.... the headaches are a little better, not getting much over a 3 and every day a little better.....  

The Doctor said  he got it all, no problem, no metastices, I am recovering a day at a time, every day a little better. I have begun to recover my gait and balance. Although it is slow returning having to learn to walk normally all over again, and headaches are still with me although much reduced and livable. I am told they may continue for several months as the brain readjusts itself.????

The VA oncologist offered me chemo and radiation as a follow on... Surgeon said he would not recommend chemo...I am exploring alternatives so I can make an informed decision... i have refused chemo as I have lost three friends to chemo in the last several years....screws up the immune system.

So today, December 8th, 2008, I am alive and doing OK for an old fart.. sucking air and blowing it back out, still stomping the daisies down.

Love and Peace, Barefoot

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