3/17/14 got up in an almost joyful mood. This is the day they get that dang tumor out! Praise God!
Arrived at the hospital about 10 a.m. Checked in, went to pre-op. There was a nurse there that I know. What a blessing! They got me prepared and then it was wait, wait, wait — the previous surgery had delayed mine. No problem. Whenever I got scared I would recite the 23rd Psalm, sometimes out loud. There was a wonderful thing on TV — “Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment” — C.A.R.E. for short. It showed relaxing pictures from nature with soft music. So Tom and I watched a lot of that.
The anestheologist came by and asked questions. My blood pressure was sky high, probably from nerves. Finally the O.R. (Operating Room) nurse came with the release form, and I knew the surgery was imminent. As they rolled me out to the O.R. (two hours late), I gave Tom a thumbs up. There were several nurses and doctors in the O.R. already. They helped me scooch onto the operating table. There were the big round operating room lights above me, not turned on yet. It would be about a 3-hour laproscopic (robotic) surgery.
Pretty soon they came with an oxygen mask. The anestheologist said a few things, and then, “Okay, here comes the sleepy stuff in your I.V.” I said, “Okay.”
I groggily awoke in the recovery room. I talked to a very pleasant male nurse, but could only open my eyes once. He asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your pain?” I said, “About 3 or 4.” I do remember telling him, “You’re a good nurse; God bless you,” and he replied, “Awww.” His name was Todd. I don’t remember being taken to my regular hospital room, but eventually I woke up there. They explained the little button I could push to give myself pain medication if needed.
The “highlights” of the night were: eating a liquid dinner (consommé, gelatin, hot tea), having Tom and Rebecca visit, going for a walk twice while holding onto the “I.V. tree” (got nauseated; second time not as much), and of course, every hour or more often someone coming in to check something. But it wasn’t too bad. Also had a private room!
In the morning (3/18/14) they brought a breakfast similar to my last night’s dinner. This time I could take in a little more. Perhaps about 7:30 a.m. my surgeon came in to check on me. He seemed pleased at how I was doing. He was pretty confident he’d got all the tumor.
In a little bit, a second breakfast came! The “waiter” said, “You’ve been upgraded.” There was some solid food on the tray. Can’t remember much, but there were a lot of carbohydrates and I didn’t eat much of those (I’m Type II diabetic). I mentioned that to the nurse and it was corrected for lunch.
So, the rest is a bit of blur, but soon they took out my catheter, had me go to the bathroom and were pleased with the results. By about noon, Rebecca came to visit (Tom had come about 9:15 a.m.), with flowers for me. Two friends also called on our cell phones, and my sister on the hospital phone. Everyone was surprised that I might go home that day. Laproscopic (robotic) surgery is much less invasive than traditional surgery; thus a shorter recovery time.
A nurse came in with some medicine for indigestion and I said, “I don’t need that,” and she threw I out. Lunch came and I was able to eat quite a bit of it. I did get up at one point and was walking around the room, with Tom nearby to make sure I did not fall. At some point, the nurse learned that I’d walked on my own, and pretty soon she came in and said something like, “You can eat, you’re not nauseous, you can walk, and you can go to the bathroom — time to go home!” First she had to remove the drain, which is a device with a thin tube from the inner surgical area to the outside of your body, that drains excess blood into a grenade-shaped receptacle. She said, “This is going to feel weird, like a snake slithering through your body.” I said, “Okay,” “trying” to relax. “Ready,” I said. She said, “It’s already out!” I didn’t feel a thing!
Pretty soon I was in a wheelchair headed for home. Recovery has been good. It took me until 2 a.m. the first night to find a good position to sleep in (sitting up against a bunch of pillows on a corner bed). The main tasks were: get your bowels working again, get the gas they insert during surgery to dissipate, keep walking to get your body back to normal. I was pretty sore but nothing unbearable (took Tylenol) and was able to sleep well. As of today (3/29/14), still sleeping sitting up.
With a follow-up appointment on 3/24, the surgeon told me there’s a slight chance that they didn’t get all the tumor cells, but he was pretty confident that they did. The tumor was malignant and had been growing faster than previously thought, BUT it had NOT spread to other parts of the body. I’ll be seeing an oncologist in April and they’ll keep an eye on me for a while.
When sharing about my surgery with others, I’ve heard of so many people who’ve had cancer in their life. I did not know it was so common! On one website, if I recall correctly, one in four Americans, at some time in their life, will have some form of cancer. By 2030, it is projected to be the major cause of death in the U.S. Let’s pray and work for prevention and cures!