My Colon Cancer Updates
Please forgive the primitive look and feel of this page, things are moving by fast and I don't have time to make anything pretty!!!
September 29, 2021 6:25am Surgery Today!
I have to arrive at the hospital at 6:25am and get dropped off at the door. My wife isn't allowed to enter the hospital at that time due to COVID restrictions. They will keep her up to date via text message and will call so that she arrives at the hospital to talk to the surgeon after the surgery is complete. After waiting in the recovery room and getting placed in a room, she will be allowed to visit. I will be getting an epidural for pain management since opiates depress the colon's ability to restart, and besides I don't seem to tolerate such drugs very well. I am allergic to Vicodin and had a nasty experience with morphine during my heart attack.
I was geeking out the other day in the shower and realized that my chances of surviving the surgery are like rolling a saving throw on a 1d20 -- I have to roll a 2 or better.
There is nothing like the night before a surgery to reflect on life and I have had a great one -- a wonderful marriage and family, a life full of love and joy, a great and interesting career and an amazing employer.
September 23, 2021 1:00pm Subtotal colectomy surgery scheduled for Wednesday September 29, 2021.
I got a call today during lunch from the Duke Cancer Center, and a spot has opened up for an earlier surgery next Wednesday. I told them I would take it, and all my lead-up appointments were very quickly rescheduled so that now I have a Pre-Admission Testing workup tomorrow afternoon, and a COVID test scheduled for Monday September 27.
September 21, 2021 7:45am Appointments with surgeons at Duke and UNC REX Hospitals.
First thing this morning I had blood work done at the Duke Cancer Center. There were at least a hundred people waiting, so I didn’t get called up until 8:15am and the CBC blood draw went very quickly. There are dozens and dozens of phlebotomist cubicles so despite the crowd, people do get seen very quickly. After the blood draw I rushed to my appointment with the colorectal surgeon, and after filling out several pages of paperwork and getting my vitals checked by the nurse, I soon got to meet the surgeon’s physician assistant, TA.
Soon after that, Dr. CM, the Chief of Gastrointestinal and Colorectal Surgery, arrived. I was very impressed with his un-rushed, compassionate manner. He took dozens of my questions and explained very carefully what surgical procedure he recommended.
The procedure is a surgical laparoscopy, partial colectomy, with anastomosis, where the ascending colon, hepatic flexure, transverse colon, and splenic flexure will be removed and the small intestine will be attached to the remaining descending colon. This will result in about 4 bowel movements a day. The surgeon indicated that since the CT scan indicated no evidence of metastasis or obvious spread of cancer to the lymph nodes, it is possible there might be no chemotherapy if the pathologist analyzes the removed tissues and finds no indications of cancer in the lymph nodes. We made tentative plans for a surgery appointment on October 11, 2021 at Duke.
Next I had my first visit with my oncologist, GB, then after receiving a sheaf of pre-op instructions, prescriptions, and the like, we had to rush all the way to REX Hospital to meet with the colorectal surgeon there. It was a good visit, with a long question-and-answer period where I got to ask questions I didn’t realize were percolating in my head after speaking to the first surgeon. I was very impressed that the REX surgeon sat me on the table and did an examination of my abdomen, finding a hernia at my belly button he said would be easy to fix in the process, and in general leaving me with a very positive impression of him being a capable, hands-on doctor. I was comforted that Dr. RR suggested the same surgical approach, so there was happy agreement on that point.
We were sent into the scheduler’s office after that, and by a funny coincidence their earliest opportunity to schedule me was also October 11. Since their surgical schedule seemed less tentative than Duke’s I didn’t make the appointment so that I would have time to process all the information I took in that day, and decide which place I should choose to have the surgery.
Somehow the Lovin’ Spoonful song “Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?” linked here kept playing in my head while I tried to make a decision. Dumb brain jukebox.