Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Recovery is going pretty well so far, better than I had anticipated, given the doctor's warnings that I would have pain. I do have pain but it was far less on Tuesday than on Monday. I need to be careful to not overdo so that I don't relapse - I think I was a bit more active than I should have been on Tue so today (Wed) I will try to nap more. Becky will be home with me as she has strep again, poor baby... but hey, at least I'm already home so neither Jim nor I need to use a PTO day. Always looking for that silver lining!

We had supper at Jim's parents' house on Sunday night, and then the girls spent the night, as we needed to be at the hospital at 6AM on Monday. Becky was not the nervous wreck that she was when I had surgery in August - six months has made a difference in her maturity. She was of course sad and concerned but wasn't crying or clingy, which really helped me to feel better about the situation. She told me that Carly was upset because I wasn't going to sleep over at Grandma's with them. She explained to Carly about me going to the hospital, that I would probably be home when they got home from school on Monday, and that if I did have to stay overnight, that they would be able to talk to me on the phone. I was impressed because I had told B all of this myself, and hearing her using the same words to reassure Carly was very sweet. Even sweeter was this - B wanted to bring her camera to Grandma's because "I have pictures of you on there, Mommy, and I can show them to Carly to make her feel better." Oh my! That was very thoughtful. I'm sure it was self-serving too, so that Becky could "see" me herself, but to my mind, that just made it a better idea.

Monday morning came early and we made our way downtown, checking in just after 6. At the pre-op desk we were told that my surgeon had an emergency and so my time would likely be pushed back from 7:30 to 9:00. At first I thought the receptionist was going to tell me that my surgery was canceled; this news was nothing in comparison. We were told to have a seat in the waiting area, but then were taken back to pre-op pretty quickly. This was because pre-op didn't know about the delay, but that was okay for me because then I got to nap on the hospital bed instead of a waiting room chair. The nurses were all lovely and we all joked around. The research nurse from oncology came to make sure the surgical team knew to save Spot for her, and we talked for a while about kids and other random subjects. I was very relaxed when they came to get me around 9. They wheeled me to a faraway OR, a couple of buildings over, which was really strange.

Outside the OR I talked to the surgeon's resident, who got a purple marker to mark which side they were to operate on; I now have a big purple X and the words "this side" fading on my skin. (Later when I showed this to Carly, she asked if it was a tattoo!) He talked to me for a few minutes, walked away, then came back to say that they might not have remembered to tell me, but that it might be necessary for them to resect (remove) part of my bottom rib. Whaaaat? I immediately panicked, thinking that there must be cancer in the bone that nobody told me about. Fortunately that was not the case; he said that based on Spot's position, they might have to remove a bit of the rib to get to him, so that would contribute to my post-op pain. Oh, okay, I can deal with THAT.

The anesthesiologist and CRNA were both nice, and everyone got me settled in. I took a couple of breaths from the mask and the next thing I knew, I was done. And in pain. This was starting to feel like the nephrectomy, part two. I was in a recovery room for a couple of hours, and they were giving me Fentanyl through my IV line. It wasn't helping as much as I thought it should, though it did help some and interestingly, I would feel a little high after each push, so I can see why people might abuse this drug. I overheard the nurse saying "no way" was I an outpatient, and then I heard the word "nephrectomy" which meant she was misreading my chart. At one point I asked for more pain medication; the nurse told me that they could give it to me but then I'd have to wait another half hour before going back to the in-and-out center. I decided I could live with the pain for now, since I knew they'd give me percoset before discharging me. Finally I was wheeled back through the hospital and got to see Jim and his mom.

Jim told me that the surgery was a bit more involved than they'd anticipated. They didn't need to resect my rib but did need to go in between ribs to completely remove Spot. So, the surgeon said that if I wanted to stay overnight that would be fine with him. I did not want to do that because 1) the pain med they were pushing wasn't my favorite, 2) if I stayed overnight I'd likely have to wear the leg compression things, which make me sweat horribly, 3) I would likely get little sleep due to the constant interruptions and sounds that are part of being in the hospital.

After a bit I was allowed to sit up and try to use the bathroom. I really needed to go since they'd been giving me IV fluids all morning, and had not had a catheter during surgery. It turned out that after the initial pain of getting up, standing and walking actually felt good. After that I was allowed to get dressed and the nurse explained my discharge orders. So, I was free to go around 4pm. It felt great to get into the car with Jim and head home. All the emotion of the day spilled out at that point and I got in a good little cry as he made his way through the garage. So many people tell me that I am very brave, very strong, and that can be so, but sometimes I don't feel that at all and need to let it out. Poor Jim is usually the audience for this but he's a wonderful husband who just comforts me when it happens. I just hope he's letting his feelings out somewhere, for his own mental health.

I was very, very sore, and slept Monday night in a recliner, but I got 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep there, in peace and quiet. It was heavenly. And, I got to see my girls, and they got to see me, so we all rested easier.

I have an appointment next Tuesday to have my staples removed. I have just four staples, with no steri-strips, and I am allowed to shower. Amazing... My only restrictions are that I can't drive as long as I am taking a narcotic, and I can't lift more than 20 lb for a month. Next week I should get the pathology results. So, back to my usual waiting mode, though I don't expect any news other than that Spot is a recurrence of renal cell. My surgeon said the same thing Dr. Rini does; "it's renal cell carcinoma until proven otherwise." I chuckled at the fact that both of them use the same line, and told my coworkers that they must both have read this line in med school in the text about "what to say to not give your patient false hope". Certainly it's possible that Spot is something benign, but I can't let myself hope that seriously. I really counted on the last spot being benign and was crushed when it wasn't; I can't do that to myself again. At this point I am hoping that we don't find anything else growing anytime soon.

1 comment:

sherri said...

PVs for continued bearable recovery. Now that "damn'd spot!" is out, I hope it has lost its ability to cause you trouble.