The doctor came in this afternoon to fill Joe in a bit and explain the surgery. Normally I'm squeamish, but it was interesting the way he described how Joe's kind of tumor works. He said it's like spilled glue, it sort of spreads and drips and fills any available crevice. And then he described how he cut it out.
Alright, squeamish again.
But he was really happy that it worked so well and again said that when he met Joe in July he really didn't think that he was looking at a future happy conversation with a patient in recovery. He told us of a patient he just saw today, a young guy who first went to a doctor in August with Joe's same symptoms, but never was given a chest x-ray because, as we've said in this blog before, this diagnosis is so rare that it doesn't even come to mind to look for it.
He didn't tell us what's going to happen to this guy as far as prognosis and treatment, but at least the doctor has Joe as an example that there is hope even when things look impossible.
(Sidebar: Joe's file is VERY thick...I think that those notes are going to be pretty handy when the doctors write up how they did this treatment and the results they received. They seemed to have made every right choice so far knock on wood).
Joe started rehab treatments today including breathing exercises that involve two very different devices to get his lungs back in to shape. We didn't realize it, but they had needed to deflate one of his lungs during surgery so that they could peel the tumor off of it. But they were happy about how well he felt, how little pain he was in and how he could, very slowly, get himself out of bed and into a chair even with yesterday's major surgery.
One last thing to note, but NOT to worry about. If you recall (or if we told you) there was a huge chance that the tumor had impacted the nerves to Joe's vocal chords. There was a chance that his vocal chords would be paralyzed, maybe even permanently. Now, as it turns out, there is a little paralyzation in the middle of one of his vocal chords which will lead to gruffness in his voice as the day wears on. But only for the next couple of months.
The speech therapists that came in today and did their tests (which included stringing a camera up and through Joe's nose so they could observe his vocal chords in action...yikes, we BOTH closed our eyes) were pleased as well that Joe was in such good shape. BUT, if you call him, especially later in the day, his voice will sound very strained and exhausted. They said as long as he isn't "pushing" and it doesn't hurt, it's all right for him to talk. BUT you've been warned. So don't ask "what's up with your voice Brenda Vaccaro?"