Before I get on a roll here, let me tell you how wonderful all of the Doctors, Nurses, and Staff at St. John's Hospital in Joplin have been for me. They have been very kind and supportive over the past year, and even with the nature of the beast that we are fighting, we have had a lot of fun with most of them, sharing stories and showing them just how attitude equals quality of life whether your sick or not. However, there is one universal aspect that just cracks Lisa and I up.
We first noticed it when I was recovering from the first surgery when the Doctors went in for a "routine" biopsy and I woke up a few days later in ICU with tubes in every body orifice and an unanticipated tracheotomy. Things didn't go quite as well as they hoped, as one of the tumors exploded and they had to do a lot of work to keep me from bleeding out on the table. So now, for the first time in my life, I couldn't talk. Now, with a metal tube protruding from my throat and all the new hardware in my body like feeding tubes in my stomach and a brand new chemo port in my chest, I was a sorry sight.
Now the funny part. When people came in the room, even trained medical personnel, they would speak to me in a volume that was very weird! "GOOD MORNING JOHN. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? Oh, and hello Mrs. Longaberger , how are you?" Loud enough at me to scare the hell out of me, yet, ever so quiet, almost a whisper, to Lisa! The tube was in the throat not my ears. The first time it happened, Lisa and I just looked at each other and smiled. Then we found that this was happening with just about everyone. We couldn't help but laugh harder each day, which I am sure, they had to wonder what the heck was wrong with us that we would find anything in this situation so amusing.
In a few days, or it might have been weeks, I learned how to speak by putting my finger over the end of the tube so that air would come out of my mouth, and yes, a voice again, ending my silence that some my have been enjoying.
After 20 days or so in the hospital, I got to go home for three or four days before starting my seven day in hospital chemo treatments. All the Nurses and Doctors stopped by to visit and give me their best wishes and it was still at a volume that would put Jimi Hendrix or the Led Zeplin back in the 70's to shame. So I had to, out of pure orneriness, return fire with all the decibels that my sore throat could muster. Lisa gave me the dirty eye, so I had to tell everyone what, and why, I was speaking so loud. We all had a good laugh about it. Everyone said that they didn't even realize that they were doing the sliding volume thing.
Now Lisa and my Mom would be the first to tell you that I do suffer from "Selective Hearing" in that sometimes I just don't hear everything that they are saying to me. I believe this to be an affliction that many men may have, however, for the most part, my ears do a pretty good job.
The trach tube was removed last winter just before the 36 radiation treatments. And now the only time someone yells at me is when I have earned it. When you see someone with an obvious medical mess, understand that they probably would like it if you just speak to them in the same way, and manner, as everyone else.
Thanks for reading. Next post will be about our camping experience (something I felt like we needed to do this past summer). Until then, support cancer awareness, and especially early detection. If you, or someone you know, has a bump, lump, or other strange item, don't ignore it. Have it checked out.
Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,
Visit the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/