Dr. Carl Brown and his entourage of students came by this morning to tell me how well the surgery went. He says he is very happy with the results and is sure he got everything he went in there after. He also found some considerable clumps of dead cancer terminated by the radiation. A very good thing to see. He said I gave him a pretty hard time, being a big man with a narrow pelvis. I promised I would try to be wider next time. He said that is an impossible promise to keep. I am admonished.
The events of last two days would easily fill a book but I’m not quite up to that task this evening. So I will try to hit the high and low points for you. On the high end they are keeping me sufficiently high. The press of a little black button adds a healthy dose of morphine to the saline drip. They had planned to fix me up with an epidural to numb everything between my sternum and pelvis, but, being the wimp (or whimp) I am, I passed out on them and they had to postpone that idea and revive me with some nice iv drugs and oxygen. Then I threatened to puke on them and they pretty much decided to abandon the whole epidure-idea.
Despite my lack of cooperation they wheeled me into the operating room and proceeded with the most important part of plan. It was approximately 0 Kelvin in the room. I thought they were either preparing me for storage or there was some esoteric medical purpose to conducting surgery in subarctic conditions. Turns out those in the know, the doctor, had concluded that the thermostat in that room is a placebo. I needn’t have worried about freezing my bits off because within a few moments it was 6 hours later and I was being very reluctantly awakened by a nurse in Recovery. She was persistent. I was reluctant. She won the day.
Once I had regained a general awareness of self, I patted my tummy to locate the stoma bump. It was on the left. I had shat my last shit. The left side is the colostomy. The worst case scenario. Definitely a low point.
What happened in the lost hours I can only relay by hearsay but I’m pretty sure the information is reliable as I have the scars and the bag on my belly to back up the unlikely story. Dr. Brown, with Dr. Gill as backup, went at the job by the most direct route. Splitting me open from the bellybutton down, they reached in there and took about a foot of large intestine along with all of the cancer both live and irradiated. I found out later that it occurred to the good doctor Brown while he was in there that I am likely to have liver surgery sooner than later. So he had the good sense to put the ileostomy where the colostomy belongs so that it is out of the way for the liver doctor. We have, my friends, no less than 100% success. He apologised for the scare it gave me. I forgave him, as those points beat the hell out of even the morphine high.
So I need a new low to hit on. Other than the food, all I’ve got is the roommate situation. Turns out all the semi-private rooms were full so it was into a ward room after all. Under the impression that I was sporting a brand new colostomy bag, I really didn’t give a shit about the room I was in. I learned to care when they brought in the guy who would spend last night and all of today directly across from me. He was in some serious pain and the nurses had instructions to administer morphine at a particular dose every 4 hours. The trouble came from his apparent tolerance to the drug and the fact that the effects didn’t last anywhere near 4 hours.
He was a moaner. Now that may sound to you like a petty complaint and I really should be more understanding. Especially with my own recent familiarity with exactly the sort of pain he was in. But, if he hadn’t been very recently drugged, this guy moaned with every single outward breath. No exaggeration, I would barely doze off in the sweet silence of his brief morphine high and he would start up again. I firmly believe his litany was completely voluntary and meant to chastise the nurses for what he perceived as irrational servitude to authority. Last night may very well be the longest night I have ever had the displeasure to experience. I was exhausted by morning. Almost as exhausted as you must be from reading those last few sentences. Then he moaned all day until his doctor came and changed the nurses’ instructions. He abated into morphine oblivion not ten minutes before my nurse came in and told me I was moving to a semi-private. Where my new roomie sat in stone faced silence while his mother fussed over whether any of my visitors were carrying a germ. A welcome change.
Which brings me to a BIG thank you to all the Trustys and the two stepdaughters who were here to keep my spirits up and, more important, help Wendy through a stressful couple of days. We are blessed. As a bonus, stoneface and germaphobe mom have gone home having declined the plan suggested for him by Dr. Brown (Go Figure!) and I have the room all to myself tonight.
So it all boils down to being pretty sure I’m cancer free below the bellybutton and I’ll sleep in a private penthouse room with a view of the city lights. Pretty tough day huh?