Well, another surgery and three night hospital stay is in the books. This one was particularly special because the day of surgery was my 24th anniversary with the amazing, and ever-improving, woman that sits by my side (or in waiting rooms) on this journey. I’m now resting in the chair that isn’t occupied by the dog, who responded to my homecoming with about the same amount of sustained excitement as the kids. Feeling much better, and wanting my kids to know I’m feeling better, I shaved and showered and presented myself as best I could as the unconquerable warrior when they arrived home from school. To their credit, I received a warm hug from each, and I think they were comforted to just see their Dad in better condition than we he left the house Monday morning, excepting the new holes and incisions that escape their sight under my t-shirt. But as I sat down to engage with the first wave of after-school kids (2 go to one school, 2 go to another and thus arrive home at different times), it was leisure time as usual with their eyes and minds engaged with their phones.
I mean, really, they hadn’t been able to use their phones all day! How could I expect special attention after yet another abdominal surgery, and second in a little over a month? This is old hat for old dad. Ha! I’m kidding, kids. I’m glad you’re all feeling relaxed and able to keep with routine. What’s for dinner?
I feel very confident that this latest surgery will help alleviate the extreme symptoms that I was experiencing related to my fistula nemesis, though I don’t expect the symptoms to be fully eliminated. For now, I think the situation is manageable. The next step is to figure out if more surgery (and much more serious) is the best option or some form of treatment.
The good news from the surgery is that the physician was able to clearly determine that there is no second fistula, which was our primary concern going under the knife. When he came to see my in recovery, he explained that he lifted all of my small intestines out of my pelvic cavity and looked everywhere for problems. Satisfied, he put me back together, made a few tweaks with his scissors and forceps, staples and sutures, and sewed me up. He also took a few pictures of my innards. So, as I lay in post-surgery discomfort, wishing for a tad more morphine, he pulled out some pictures from his surgery notes and showed me a picture of my pelvic wall. On this picture were two white, suspicious looking spots. To me, they looked significant in size, but apparently they were tiny. He removed them and sent them for pathology.
I close my eyes in disbelief. No, I thought. It can’t be. Remember what I said about a previous surgery identifying cancer seeding in my pelvic cavity? Is this evidence of that seeding or recurrence since I have been off of treatment so long? I went from the peace of knowing I wasn’t fighting a second fistula to the fear that my disease was about to get much worse and probably would not have surgery to remove the large and growing tumors in my guts removed.
I wanted to crumple in a ball, but it hurt too much.
A day passed, and on Tuesday, the surgeon paid me a visit in the early afternoon, he along with his caring PA. He inspected his work and inquired of my pain. Honestly, I joked that he had pulled my rib cage apart and hit my left shoulder with a hammer. Those who have had laparoscopic surgery know that sometimes the greatest pain is caused by pockets of air which can press against nerves in various places. Out of the blue, he says, “let’s see if the pathology is back.” I couldn’t believe it. I expected to wait at least a week, and here he thought it best to chase the results together right away. We may be getting too chummy with all of this time spent together…
Seeing his eyes on his phone reading a pathology report scared the you-know-what out of me. And then he says: “You want me to read this to you? Or can you read from my phone?”
He held his phone at the appropriate, middle-aged distance from my eyes and I read. There were 4 bullet points describing one of the spots. I cannot remember much about the first 3. All I know is the 4th said “No malignancy detected”. I couldn’t help but wonder why that wouldn’t be the #1 most important point. Honestly, I almost cried I was so relieved. All I could do was raise my arms and respond, “air hug,” and this in an embarrassingly weak gesture. To his credit, he came to my bed and gave me a real (if awkward) hug.
I assure you that I was later on my knees praising the Lord.
So, all future options are still available to me. Now I must heal up and then travel to MD Anderson in Houston the second week of May to see if my doctors at that top cancer facility recommend surgery or some form of treatment, be it personalized, experimental, or otherwise.
Now I just need my little red BMW convertible home again, too.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
** The pic is of the flowers that my mother brought to my hospital room. She said they reminded her of the sun, and I needed some sunlight.