We got home from the hospital yesterday evening after a week’s stay. I’m as weak as a kitten, but it was glorious to wake up in my own bed this morning.
As Debra updated earlier, surgery was wildly successful. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wave of prayers and support that has helped me get through this part.
WARNING: SERIOUSLY GROSS THINGS ARE ABOUT TO BE DISCUSSED. READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
First of all, I am going to have the most awesome scar in Dallas. The incision is 14 inches long and closed with 38 giant staples. My torso looks like a Mad Max costume.
The goal of last week’s surgery, as you may recall, was to “de-bulk” or trim down as much of each cancer tumor as possible while leaving my vital organs as intact as possible. My surgeon, Dr. Jayanthi Lea (better known by her hip-hop name of J-Lea), exceeded all expectations by removing 100% of all of the tumors. It took her a full eight hours of surgery, but in a result I did not even dare to hope for, all of the little buggers are 100% gone.
Of course, there are still about a million microscopic cancer cells down there that could wake up and become tumor factories at any time. Hence, we still talk about remission rather than cure. And hence also, we will be starting follow-up chemo in a week or two to discourage that sort of behavior. Until follow-up chemo is complete, we won’t know whether remission has been achieved, or for how long.
As for my innards, J-Lea and her team were able to avoid damage to lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas, and just about everything else I need – all except my intestines. My poor intestines had to be carved up and then put back together like Legos. Until they heal, I will be wearing the latest in fashionable ileostomy bags. That is, a portion of my intestine (called the “stoma”) has been pulled through my side and now reports to an exterior bag rather than to the rest of my digestive tract. The ileostomy is temporary, and given the overall result of the surgery, dealing with it for a few months is – though definitely gross – okay by me. I have named the stoma “Bilbo”; and the bag, of course, is “Baggins.” Sometimes I call the whole thing “Little Buddy.” It gurgles a bit, but no more than the redhead does after fried food.
Speaking of the redhead, and on a serious note, he spent virtually every minute of the past week at the hospital with me. I am more blessed than I have the words to say. Yesterday he kneeled down in front of me, and I was reminded of the day he proposed 35 years ago. But this time, he was kneeling to help me empty my ileostomy bag.
Please have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and know that my love and gratitude will be right there with you.