My Own Experiences with a HUGE SURGERY

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by docuw, May 30, 2002.

  1. docuw

    docuw Senior Member
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    An interesting and scary finding was made over this school year in my own health. Upon my acceptance to medical school, I received a stethoscope as a gift. While listening to my own heart and comparing it to my medical text books, I found it to be on the wrong side. When school started last fall, I had one of my professors, an Internal Medicine physician, listen to my heart while at one of my physical diagnosis classes at the hospital. After a few minutes of listening, she agreed that there was indeed something unusual about the finding and suggested that I visit a cardiologist. I waited a few months until school let out for the holiday break to have it looked at. After an abnormal chest XRay, and a CT Scan, we found a watermelon sized tumor growing from anterior mediatinum into my left hemithorax, pushing my heart over to the right side while collapsing my left lung. As you might imagine, this was an extremely frightful finding, especially since I had been asymptomatic for so long. I only had DOE when working real hard (full cort BBall, Moving up several flights of stairs, etc.) After a biopsy, and talking with the doctors and surgeons here in Omaha and a Thoracic Surgery specialist in Seattle, we determined that the tumor was benign, but definitely needed to be removed. I was able to convince the surgical team to postpone the surgery until after the end of the school year. This allowed me to finish my first year of medical school and have time for recovery over this summer.

    My surgery was last Thursday and took about 4 hours. They wound up doing the lateral thoracotomy (rather that his other option, a median sternotomy that I was not too thrilled about). They got the tumor out 99.9% in one piece, and scraped the rest loose too. The incision went through my 4th ICS and removed part of my 4th rib. He then spread the ribs wide open and tried to get out as much as he could. Unfortunately, he couldn't reach the bottom of the tumor down by the diaphragm, so, using the same skin incision, he moved down and opened up the 7th ICS at the same time. He stuck both of his hands in there and carefully freed my left phrenic nerve which had been severely stretched out by the tumor. He said that he was sweating pretty profusely trying to maneuver it out of there and when I saw him the next day, his hands were pretty bruised and swollen from banging on the rib spreaders. The tumor weighed 4.3 kilos (about 9.8 pounds), and was the size of a watermelon (it didn't fit in the large pan that he had ready to catch it when he took it out).

    The left lung has reinflated and looked very healthy, and my heart slid back over into it's
    natural position on the left. When I had the chest tubes pulled, they covered the first one up with some foam tape and gauze. Well, later in the day that started leaking and it felt
    like I was sucking in air ? hard to breath, voice change etc., but breath sounds were still present, so my lung wasn?t collapsing. Apparently it was only allowing air in subQ. The problem was that the nurses and residents weren't believing me, and I was getting really upset. The tube on the left came out much more easily and sealed well - well, that is until I had to cough and blew a bunch of blood/exudate into my bandage. So, we later had to
    reseal that hole as well.

    Anyhow, I have had quite an experience. Even though I wish I didn?t have to be on this side of the knife in order to learn about medicine, I have learned a lot about how to treat a patient. That movie ?The Doctor? is similar to what I have just gone through.

    I am currently on oxycodone/contin +VIOXX+ Clonazepam (for my anxiety) so I am feeling pretty good right now.

    Who know what would have happened had I not gone into medicine!!?!??!
     
  2. Dodge This

    Dodge This Senior Member
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    Thank you for sharing your story. I can't imagine what that would be like. It's scary that it wasn't picked up on your entrance physical. How did your family, friends, and classmates react when they found out? Best wishes in your recovery.

    What has the exact diagnosis, if you don't mind me asking?
     
  3. docuw

    docuw Senior Member
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    We dont really have an entrance physical, just have to have all of our vaccines and titers known and documented. Plus, I am not usually that sick either, so I really didnt visit the doc that much.

    My family and loved ones were incredibly shocked. They could not believe it, especially since I had been able to play varsity sports all the way through High School. They have been extrememly supportive though, and this week, at least one person has taken time off work to make sure that they are here with me and getting me anything I need.

    The Dx = Thymolipoma. It is likely the largest they have ever found and I might be involved in getting it published, so that is pretty cool.

    Take Care
     
  4. analu

    analu Senior Member
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    Get well soon, docuw, and thanks for sharing your story.

    P.S. Hope you're treating the nurses well! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     
  5. gel1

    gel1 Senior Member
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    docuw,
    I would never wish what happened to you on anyone, but now that you have gone through it your experiences will help you be a great doctor. I met a second year student who had cancer before starting med school, and really admired her strength. Your health is always more important than anything else, of course. Thanks for sharing your story, and I wish you the best for your future health and career.
     
  6. shorrin

    shorrin the ninth doctor
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    what a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Here's to a speedy recovery!!
     
  7. md03

    md03 Senior Member
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    Glad it worked out for you. I, too am a veteran of serious, major big time surgery. I'm not going to go into the details here. Just to warn you, though, you might want to be careful about making it known. Many of my fellow students know about my story, as do some of the residents and faculty. I recently had a faculty member who is also involved in residency selection give me a stern talking to. This individual basically doesn't think I can handle the demands of the residency in the field I have decided to pursue, mostly because of my medical history. Which leaves me in the position now of having to leave that out of my personal statement I am writing for residency applications.

    Like me, you have a very cool story (rare disease leading to big time surgery) to tell (now that it's over) and the experience helped you gain insight that many people don't have as to what it's like to be a patient. Just be aware that you might want to be very careful about discussing your story.
     
  8. 2003doc

    2003doc Member
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    Wow- interesting diagnosis- here's to a quick recovery and good luck w/ second year in the fall!
     
  9. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Moving to Everyone Forum...
     

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