I can’t believe the surgery is over. The weeks leading up to it flew by. I was so focused on getting everything covered and in line for the time I would be out that I didn’t really have time to obsess over the surgery. I was literally moving non-stop until we left the house for the Depeche Mode concert at 6:30 on the 24th. I know many people thought I had truly lost it when I said we decided to go to the concert then head down to LA after. We gave our options a lot of thought and in the end felt like an evening of live music and friends is just what was needed pre-surgery. Looking back I’m so glad that is the decision we made. The concert was fantastic and the laughter with friends even better. We made the right choice.
We arrived at the hotel just before 1 am and the alarm went off at 4:30 am so I could shower and prep my skin for surgery. They give you these wipes that you need to use on each part of your body. They make you feel kind of sticky and a bit itchy but it was all in the name of no infection. We left the hotel at 5 am and made our way to the hospital. We arrived at about 5:20 am. As we were about to walk into the hospital up walks our dear friend Jody and our godson Jake. When we left her after the concert I didn’t quite realize what she meant when she said I will see you soon. Jake was full of smiles while we waited for me to get called up for Pre-Op. We waited till at least 6am for my name to be called. Jon and I left Jody and Jake and followed the administrator through a maze of doors. Apparently the pre-op area was already full of patients so we were headed to what usually is the recovery room. Once we arrived we met my pre-op nurse who was super sweet. I was told to put on a gown which was literally big enough for 3 of me. Then came the hospital cap to top off my ensemble.
The next discussion was whether or not they would be able to use my port rather than attempting to get an arm vein for anesthesia. Luckily the anesthesiologist gave the port a go. I was asked over an over again the exact same questions. Not sure why that can’t all be done by one person but apparently everyone needs the same info. While all the info gathering was going on another nurse came over to my nurse and started complaining about everything from who was on the shift to someone being moved to who knows what else. I looked over at him and said hey there is no crankiness in my little area here. I’m going in for surgery and this is a positive only zone. He was shocked but stopped and walked away. My nurse apologized and I said there was no need for apologies I just can’t have that around me right now. She thanked me for saying something and cutting him off. Apparently she wasn’t enjoying the bitch fest either.
My port was accessed and they began getting me ready for the epidural. There was talk that the team was behind and that they needed to have me in the OR by 7:30am or else there is whole post op discussion on who was slow, who dropped the ball etc… At this point I’m thinking to myself hold on now I don’t want my epidural to be rushed because you have to get me into the OR in the next minutes. The anesthesiologist was very nice and reassured me they wouldn’t rush anything. When they saw I started to get a little nervous about the rush they decided to hold off on the epidural and wait until we got into the OR. I think we made it through the doors right at 7:30am. They sat me up and leaned my chest over a table to ready me of the epidural. From that point on I don’t remember a thing until I woke up in the ICU sometime on Wed. night.
My surgery was slated to be about 4-5 hours but apparently the actual time was more like 7 1/2 hours. They brought in a colorectal surgeon at some point because they found a tumor that was not previously seen and he took it out. Dr. Genyk believes he took about 20% of my liver which is not bad at all and Dr. Lecht ablated the remaining tumors in my liver. Bottom line is THEY THINK THEY GOT IT ALL! It is still kind of surreal. I’ve gone from the worst case scenario to truly the best case scenario. Here is a photo of what Jon calls my zipper:
The incision continues down below the bikini line. The white bandage is covering the whole where a drain was placed. The hole hasn’t quite healed up yet so need to keep it infection free.
While I was in surgery a number of my friends made appointments to give it up for me at the blood bank. Some I know cant stand the sight of needles, put their fears aside, and just made it happen. Thank you!! Here’s a picture of the Weddle’s giving it up:
There is still much more work to do on this climb to the top of the mountain but I know I will be hitting the crest sooner rather than later. I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Genyk on Friday and then I will be setting up appointments to meet with both Dr. Lenz and Dr. Wolliver to figure out the next plan of action to achieve the final obliteration of cancer. From what I know so far I am facing at least another 3 months of chemo but it could also be 6 months to 2 years. I am told that the research on patients who are stage 4 and become surgical candidates is slim so the doctors don’t really know what to recommend. I’m going to be looking at this from a holistic approach. I’m not sure that my hands and feet can handle years more of chemo and at this point I’m not sure that is what is needed but I will need to do some careful consideration before making that decision.
So, I have to share with you some of the hospital follies. After waking up in recovery, which I don’t remember, I was moved to the ICU. I’m not sure what time that was but I think it was in the evening. The nurses in ICU are pretty darn phenomenal. The worst part about ICU are the checks every 2 hours and not only the checks but having to be moved into different positions so no bed sores occur. Luckily I had the epidural in and it was nicely flowing. I had this nose tube in while in the ICU which pretty much sucked. It was itchy and uncomfortable but emptying out the fluids in my stomach so that I didn’t get nauseated. At that point I couldn’t even imagine having to sneeze or cough let alone vomit. Sometime Thursday they decided to take out the nose tube which then made me eligible to move to a regular floor which meant no more every 2 hour checks. My move didn’t come till 11pm Thursday night which was kind of annoying but at the same time just fine given I was being transferred to a private room with a view. Luckily, Dr. Genyk was in my room when the discussion of where to move me came up. His residents had me slated to go to the 6th Floor which only has semi private rooms but Dr. Genyk said no she will go to the 9th Floor. Thank you Dr. Genyk!! I can’t imagine dealing with the pain and recovery and having another person right next to me dealing with the same issues. Off to the 9th Floor I went. Thank you Krista Brennan for staying with me and helping the nurses get my things from one room to the next. I finally got to bed about midnight with multiple wake ups. The lab guy came in to draw blood about 1am. I asked him if he was trained to draw from the port and if not I wasn’t giving him blood. He said there were no orders for the port to be used but he would check with his supervisor. He came back 15 minutes later and said there are no orders I have to take your blood. I told him there is no way he was taking my blood that my port was left accessed for just this purpose and I’m not going through the pain of him trying to get a vein. He went and talked to my nurse who then came in and I explained once again. She said okay Ill get orders from the doc there are only orders that it be accessed but nothing on how it be used. Really, are you kidding me, why else would it be left accessed. Then about 4am another lab person came in to take my blood. She of course got the wrath of me and just walked out. The last wake up was at 5 am or maybe 5:30 so I could get a sponge bath and walk the hall before the doctors made their rounds. That was a bit on the brutal side.
On the 28th the doctors decided it was time to take out my epidural. I knew that meant the pain was going to be worse but never did I imagine how much worse. I was told that it would last about 6 hours after it was pulled and then I would start on oral pain meds. Well the super bummer about the pain pills was it was not a high enough dose. In the early evening the pain started to get bad. The nurse tried to get the on call doc to up the dosage and initially he did but then called back and said he couldn’t without approval of my surgical team. You would think he would then call the on call doc from my team and get approval but no that is not what happened. I suffered through the night. Needless to say my doctor was not happy. Once we got the pain meds all worked out then it was time to deal with the issue of one of my daytime nurses.
I could tell when she came in that she wasn’t going to be the sympathetic, warm and fuzzy type. It also appeared that she just didn’t seem to get certain things. I can’t really explain but if you were there you would understand. One of the most irritating things was she wouldn’t let me know when it was time for my next pain med nor would she write down for me when it was I was given my last dose. Her explanation was that it was on an as needed basis every four hours so it didn’t matter when it was due it was just as needed. The problem with that logic is once you start feeling the pain gain momentum it is too late because by the time you take your pill it takes another 20-30 for it to start working. So you need to figure out the timing of it all so you are taking the least amount of meds but getting the most out of them. She didn’t seem to get this concept. Then I proceeded to tell her that I was on a continuous dose of another drug every six hours and that she needed to make sure I was getting it every six hours. She says to me I don’t think you are on anything continuous. I say I’m telling you I am, go check the computer! Low and behold she returned a half hour later admitting that yes I was on a continuous med and yes it should have been give a half hour earlier. How does this shit happen? I can’t imagine how screwed other patients get that aren’t able to advocate for themselves or have friends and family to come in and light some fires. Once again thank you Krista for pinning down that damn nurse and figuring out when my next dose was!
Not only do you have a nurse checking in on you there is also the hospital tech that changes the linens, checks your vitals and is supposed to make sure you are taken care of with water, ice etc… For the most part I got some great techs but one of the days I had this lady who seemed totally out of it. She moved at a snails pace and couldn’t remember anything. It was almost like I was in an SNL skit. This woman looked at me like I spoke a foreign language. She dawdled around my room and I think at one point was watching the movie I had on. Then she asked if she could change my sheets. I said yes that would be great I just want to finish this movie. She asked again can I change your sheets. I say again yes let me finish this movie. Then she says oh okay well the stuff is on the couch so let me know if you need any help. I say need help? What are you talking about? I’m not changing my linens. It is your job to change my linens. She says well they aren’t that bad. I say no I want them changed today. I then told her to just forget it and I would have the nightshift change the linens. (No this was not in a calm, cool and collected voice, I was pissed.) She just stared at me and then finally left. 30 minutes later she was back and says now, I say no I just want to finish the movie. Then she comes back again and asks if she can drain my pump which I had already told her 3 times that my pump was removed before she came on shift so there was nothing to drain. I don’t understand how people like that still have a job.
There are a few other funny or not so funny more like sad stories of the incompetence of a few of the nurses but I will spare you for now.
I got home about 8pm Wed. October 2nd. It was so nice to sleep in my own bed and not have anyone waking me up for vital checks. I’ve been laying low since my return, resting and hopefully healing quickly as I realize it is only two weeks till the Friendship Paddle. Buster has been my therapy dog. He can’t get enough of snuggling up next to me. The girls are doing well. Madison has been very helpful not only around the house but also with her sister who seems to be having a much rougher time as we move through this phase of the cancer journey. Jon is feeling positive and grateful that we have come so far. He is also looking forward to soon getting back to a non chemo wife. That will definitely be a day to celebrate.
Thank you to everyone who sent me positive energy and prayers while in surgery and for my recovery thereafter. Thank you Linda for taking care of the girls for us on the eve of surgery and Mary and Peter for staying with the girls on Thursday. Thank you Anda for picking up the girls from school on Thursday and bringing them down to Los Angeles to visit me. I was so glad to see their smiling faces and feel the touch of their little hands. Thank you Krista and Paul for keeping me stocked up on Pom juice, snacks and dinner. Thank you Naomi for bringing me organic vegetable broth. There were no organic choices on the hospital menu. Thank you Nikki, Jody and mom for being at the hospital while I was in surgery. Thank you Gold/Feldman/Lermer family for the beautiful flowers and visits. Thank you Megan and Jeff for coming to see me on your way back from the OC. Thank you Linda, Mike, Kate, Kelly, Devon, Julian, Eden, Eddie and Blake for making a special stop at the hospital after your soccer games. Thank you Justin for flying down from San Francisco to support me and my family and for the long talks. Thank you Cody for staying at our house to watch the animals. Thank you Sarah for coming down to the hospital twice to work on me. Your healing energy not only helped the pain but left me in a place of pure contentment. Thank you Krista for doing distance work on me and for having Lucy over when we knew she needed some mommy energy. Thank you Devon for taking care of Madi on Wed. afternoon. Thank you Anna for taking care of Lucy Wed afternoon and making sure she made it to soccer. Thank you Linda for having the girls ready for my arrival home. Thank you Ginny, Linda, Anne, April, Tom, Chris and so many more for all their hard work on the Friendship Paddle and Pedal. Thank you Bryan, Graham, Jon Z., Hans, Brock, Jason and everyone else who sent me funny jokes and pictures to get me through those final days in the hospital. Thank you Cody for taking all my calls while I’m out of the office. Thank you Bill Makler for finishing up a case for me. Thank you Steve Balash, Sam Eaton and Megan Leisz for your offer to help no matter what the issue. Thank you Steve Dunkle for jumping right in when I couldn’t get the issue resolved pre surgery.
I owe so many of you a personal thank you and I hope that you know I think about you everyday and appreciate everything you have done for our family. Thank you all for your unconditional support and unwavering belief that I will kick cancer’s ass! You are my inspiration.
Hugs and Kisses,