At the beginning of last week, my wife had THE Surgery. The cancer was located about an inch above her stomach. Due to the chemo and radiation, the tumor shrank from 6 cm to 3 cm in height. The surgeon went 8 cm above this point to cut the esophagus. The bottom cut removed the top part of her stomach. The remaining tissue was the sewn together. Thus about 5 ½ inches of her esophagus was removed.
If you’re a fan of Forged in Fire and like the part when Doug Marcaida whacks on ballistic dummies with large swords and then states, “It will kill.” Then you might have some idea of how the incisions on my wife looked when the bandages came off. She had a vertical cut from the middle of her chest to the top of her belly button sealed by 25 fairly evenly placed staples. Not to be out done, under her right armpit she had a diagonal incision sealed by another 20 staples. Total staple count was 45.
Prior to beginning the surgery, my wife had an epidural inserted in her back, about even with her shoulder blades. She kept this anesthesia for most of her stay in the hospital. At the conclusion of surgery, she had two drain lines in her chest. One was about ½ inch in diameter and the other was about a 1/8 diameter line. She also was given a catheter. A myriad of IV solutions were given to her thru the tops of her hands. She had a handy dandy port installed about two months ago in hopes that it would be used in the surgery. Sadly, it was ignored for her entire stay in the hospital, and she came home with the bruises on her arms to prove it. She also had a drain tube entering her nose and going into her stomach to keep her stomach empty. Simultaneous with that, oxygen was being given to her via her nose.
Her vitals were monitored via various instruments as well. My wife referred to the whole group of tubes, hoses, wires, and the like as “her spaghetti”.
We arrived at the hospital at 4:45 AM on the day of the surgery. She was prepped and on her way to surgery about 7:30 AM. The surgery was completed about 1 PM. Around 3:30 PM, I caught up with her in the Intensive Care Unit. I got there just in time to hear the following questions asked of my wife:
- Do you know your name?
- What is your date of birth?
- Do you know what has happened to you?
- Do you know where you are?
After three days in ICU, my wife was moved to a regular room on the floor for surgical recovery. Two days later, the doctor authorized a leak check of her stomach. The following day, she began a liquid diet. This was the first food or water that she had had since the day prior to the surgery. The seventh day of her stay, the large drain tube and her epidural were removed (in that order).
On her eighth day in the hospital, she was authorized to be discharged. About three hours before discharge, the small drain tube was removed. I got to witness this bit of torture as about 10 inches of medical grade aquarium tubing was pulled out of her side.
Mama now has a walker to help her navigate around the house and a special pillow to hug when she coughs–which is often. When properly medicated, she does ok, and the pain is manageable. After walking for a bit, she needs to stop and catch her breath. Her lungs and stomach are still coming to terms learning to share her chest cavity.
If everything goes as scheduled, the next steps are going to happen next week, the pathology report and several doctor visits.
As always, thanks for your prayers and we’ll check in as events unfold.