Monday, March 27, 2017

Stage Two: Surgery

Stage two of our trial by fire is upon us.  With Bill's permission, I am going to share to keep you all informed about our journey. 

One form of chemo and radiation ended mid-January. Bill  was still in pain with general lethargy for an additional two weeks.  Gradually his appetite returned as did physical strength.  By the second week in February he was ready to fly to Eureka, CA to bring home the last load of our personal belongings.  His surgeon gave him the green flag.  She said he should be feeling great (and he was!).  He was in the honeymoon period between radiation and surgery.  Off he flew to clear and clean out the rented storage unit and bring his pickup and a trailer load of stuff home.

In the midst of this trip Liz and I flew to Eureka for a Scottie Dog Quilting Retreat.  It was a whirlwind trip, a fun and successful retreat and a chance to reconnect with old friends.  

Bill made the last long trip to MN and so we are officially and in fact Minnesotans now.  Our house is slowly becoming our home, the snow (for now!) is gone and the green is beginning to appear.  But I know that Mother Nature is fickle and we could have snow anytime between now and mid-May. 

There have been a few doctor  and nurse visits the past week as we prepare for surgery on Wed. March 29.  One very educational trip was to the Wound Care Nurse who will be following Bill throughout the next couple of months.  She answered all the questions we had (and didn't know to ask) about Ostomys and Stomas...two terms we really didn't know much about but will be so much a part of our lives in the future.  Wednesday the doctor, via robot, will remove Bill's colon and re-route his large intestine to the left side of his abdomen.  She will cut through the muscle wall and insert the end of the intestine and fold it back on itself and sew it to the outside of his body.  This opening is called a stoma.  Then they will flip his body, remove the rectum, sphincter muscles and anus.  They'll sew up the hole.  Even just a few years ago the surgery was harder and the care for a stoma and the output was much more difficult and distasteful.  But now there are great systems.  The picture is the "fitting" of a Two Part system.  There is a "bandage" with a circular fixture that allows for a tupperware type seal.  Bags are disposable and even have charcoal filter systems to cut down on odor.  He should be able to do everything he did before the surgery once he is healed up.

 This surgery will take about 5-6 hours and require a 6-7 day hospital stay.  Then there will be a 6-8 week recovery period before four months of infusion chemo.  No lifting and not much physical activity. The immediate future doesn't look fun, but the down the road future looks great.

Please keep us in your prayers.  The road ahead is still long but we thank the Lord for his mercies.