Thursday I will be having a surgical procedure called VAT (video-assisted thorascopy) assisted talc pleurodesis. The procedure involves various tools being inserted into the lungs to first clean out the area between the lung wall and the pleural wall and then pumping talc into the area to coat the two walls so they will adhere to each other. In case all of the fluid does not drain from the bottom of the lung, the surgeon will also insert a tube into that part of the lung, extending out the side of the body where it can be emptied by the patient or a helper. The patient keeps a record of the amount of fluid removed, and it is the hope of the surgeon that the fluid collection will diminish to the point that he can remove the tube.
The procedure is used when metastatic breast (or lung) cancer patients develop malignant pleural effusions. After this occurs it will keep happening until a procedure, like the one I am having Thursday, is done to curtail it. Last time they took an x-ray before the thoracentesis, my left lung was nearly full of fluid, and the procedure removed 1800 ml of fluid. Today, less than two weeks later, the x-ray showed my lung was again already half full of fluid. I have been breathing with increased effort the last few days, and this morning seemed markedly worse than just yesterday. Despite the trauma from the procedure, I am looking forward to getting this done. Mostly looking forward to recuperating and being able to breathe freely again.
I also want to thank everyone who has posted such supportive comments during this crisis here and at Facebook and Twitter. It really means a lot to me and helps more than you can imagine. What an amazing world it is to have these kinds of connections with people we have never even met. Thanks, again.