Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21

It's been six months. Today.

Six months ago, today, I went in for the Mother of All Surgeries.

(Now that I call it that, I can't help but think that I hope I didn't just jinx myself. ... Oh, well. Only time'll tell.)

It's been six months, and I'm still having a hard time taking a deep breath.

Look, I will show you.

This is an incentive spirometer:

(My mom and I lovingly refer to this little guy as "the torture machine".)

It's a pressurized chamber. You stick the tube in your mouth and inhale. As you suck in, the little arrow rises and you can see what kind of strength you have in your lungs.

Please note that the arrow is at 3,000. Believe it or not, that's where they want me to be able to hit WHEN I HAVE JUST HAD SURGERY. (Abdominal surgery, no less. When it hurts to take a shallow breath, let alone try to move this arrow to 3,000.)

Here is a recent pic:

That's right. It's been six months. (SIX MONTHS!) And I still can't hit 3,000.

Good grief.

Methinks the medical staff may have had some unrealistic expectations of my ability to take a deep breath six months ago.

Speaking of how I (still) have a hard time taking/holding a deep breath...

Have I told you that I've noticed that I'm having a hard time singing these days? I mean, at least I can sing now. (It took about three months for me to have the breath control to sing - at all. In the fourth month after surgery, I was able to sing if I was only dealing with a 4-5 note range.) I'm now at the point that I can hit an E again. ... But I can't hold it.

I can sing one, maybe two songs, and then my voice starts to crack all over the place. It's funny, because I don't feel like I'm out of air. I don't get the gaspy, need-to-take-a-breath feeling, but I'll be singing along and all of a sudden my voice will just fail. I mean, the note totally drops and the tonal quality is GONE. I have no control over getting a note back where it needs to be, until I stop singing, take a breath and start over.

I think it may be that 5x5 chunk of my diaphragm that Dr. G took.

That's the only thing I can think of, anyway. I need to do a little diaphragm research and then I'll return and report my findings. ... In the meanwhile, I thought I'd do a little torture machine show and tell. (As an aside: I average between 1,000 and 1,500 in the first few weeks after surgery. So, really, even though I still can't take a deep breath, I'm doing more than twice as well as I was a few months ago.)