Posted on March 21, 2018
I asked Jill and Jeff to give you all a brief update on Monday to let everyone know I had made it out of surgery and was in recovery. Now, I’ll fill you guys in on more of the details…
Surgery went extremely well! I should have been in surgery for 6 hours but it only lasted 3 hours. Because my surgery was only 3 hours long, I was able to go back to the recovery floor for 3 or 4 hours and then moved to my room, no ICU! The surgeons were able to remove the mass easily. They cauterized 3 lesions on my liver and ablated one other one. The one that was ablated was one they could easily tell had metastasized and was cancerous. The other lesions were caused by the cancer but they are hopeful the lesions were just left over from chemo. They sent all 4 lesions to be biopsied. We have already received the results from one lesion and it was negative for cancer!! We are praying the others follow suit and will also be cancer free! The surgeons did not find anything else to remove!! It was such amazing news to be told after waking up! I had some PTSD going into this surgery after the first one. I remember waking up and everyone else already knew I had cancer and I had to wait through recovery until Stephen could come see me and deliver the news. I’ve been pretty scared of this surgery, and it was weighing me down, always creeping into my thoughts. I had such a sense of relief through most of the weekend and I know that is because of all of you praying for me! The morning of surgery, I told Stephen I was still scared. We decided to say another prayer in the car before heading into the building and laid everything we were worried about at God’s feet. It was amazing to see how God took it all for us and removed a lot of our anxiety, we were even able to crack jokes before surgery! Stephen said when my lead surgeon updated him after surgery he tried to shake Stephen’s hand but Stephen said, “No way man, we’re hugging!” They brought Stephen back to see me once they got my pain under control and my breathing normalized (about 2 hours after surgery ended). Stephen told me the good news and a few other surgeons came to see me in recovery and provided more details, but I honestly didn’t remember much of those conversations due to the drugs, so I had to be retold on Tuesday! But I will take good news like that any day! I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN HOW AMAZING IT FEELS TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE FINISH LINE!!
For my surgery, they didn’t use my port. They placed an IV before I went back to the OR and then placed another IV once I was under. They also gave me an arterial line. I had never had an arterial line but the catheter for it was big so I am glad I was under when it was inserted! They said it was more for precautionary measures, the anesthesiologist can more closely monitor me, they can draw blood and they could also use it if any kind of resuscitation was necessary. My wrist already has a pretty nasty looking bruise and I’m sure it will become more attractive over the next few days. I also had an epidural placed in my upper back, it wasn’t too painful, just some slight stinging. During surgery, they placed an NG tube in my nose (and not the pediatric version). I had to keep it in for 2 days and it was painful to my nose and my throat, I was very happy when we got to remove it!
In order to access all of the lesions on my liver, they had to cut two bands off of my diaphragm, where it was connected. My shoulder hurt when I came out of surgery and got progressively worse into the night. At one point, the pain was so bad I had silent tears running down my face and thought it must have been dislocated during surgery. They sent me to have x-rays done on my shoulder and chest and an EKG to be able to rule out a heart attack. All three tests came back showing everything looked good. After speaking with several of my doctors they determined I had an air pocket in my abdomen/diaphragm from surgery and the pain was being radiated to my shoulder. They informed me there as nothing they could do for it and it would slowly heal itself over time. Thankfully it has improved drastically, and I can hardly feel the pain anymore!
The epidural worked from my rib cage down to my belly button but wasn’t covering anything from my belly button down. Even though the epidural didn’t cover my whole abdomen like they had hoped, it was still very beneficial. However, last night around 2am I was in a lot of pain, so they gave me a small dose of Morphine and Toradol. I got roughly another hour of sleep and then the pain was out of control again. The silent tears were back. My doctors rounded and said they could give me some supplemental drugs to get the pain back under control. After they left to put the orders in, I noticed my arm and back were wet. At first, I thought I had just sweat a lot but it was too wet for that and I still had a catheter in, so I knew I hadn’t peed on myself! Stephen was able to slightly roll me on to my side and see that the epidural line was disconnected. We had my nurse come back and check the site and call the anesthesiologist. Now we knew why the pain was so bad, I had no pain medicines in me less than two days after being sliced wide open. Because the line had disconnected, we couldn’t reconnect it due to the risk of bacteria getting in the line and into my spine. I asked if we could remove the catheter that was still in my back but they said they couldn’t safely do that until my platelets started recovering (for some reason they dropped a lot after surgery). So, for now it will stay in my back. They placed orders for a PCA which allows me to control the amount of medicine administered myself up to a certain limit. It took the pharmacy four hours to get the drugs to my room! Luckily, they were able to give me some small doses of Morphine to keep my pain level at a seven or eight vs. the ten I was at with no drugs.
I’ve managed to get up and walk four times already and will keep trying to increase the distance and frequency. The walking (it’s more like an old man shuffle) itself isn’t terrible but trying to get out of the bed is very painful. That will also improve with time. If I am in a sitting or standing position, I am unable to speak because it causes too much pain. You don’t realize how much you rely on your abdominal muscles until you have none!
My nurses here have been great, and I see a minimum of 4 doctors a day in the morning and evening. I am now on a clear liquid diet, so I only had to go 4 days without much nutrition, which honestly wasn’t too bad! I never have much of an appetite right after surgery, so it makes it easier than it sounds. The lead surgeon has been very happy with my recovery progress and said I could discharge as early as this weekend, but we are prepared to stay longer if needed. Depending on when my post op appointment is, I will either go home or stay with Jill and Jeff. Stephen will head home for work and then come back for me if the dates aren’t optimal.
I’ll post more details about the radiation once I have them.
Thank you again for all of the prayers! We honestly couldn’t have had a better surgery and I know it’s due to all the prayers. God carried me in His hands! So much love to each and everyone of you, I am eternally grateful!