Monday, February 2, 2015

De-Liver Me Tour ~ Sisterhood of Traveling Body Parts

January 7th: Oh boy surgery day. The game plan was to remove the tail of my pancreas (home of said adenocarcinoma) and my spleen with a combination of a laparoscope, robotics and the capable hands of my doctor. The surgery took about 6 hours. I was, of course, on another planet and haven't a clue as to what was going on. Since the doc was in the neighborhood she also checked on my liver and found a small hepatocellular tumor and with Rod's permission removed it. 

January 8th - 9th: Me and Mr. Wheels my best buddy and travelling companion for 3 days. Patients are encouraged to get up and walk as soon as possible, as it helps get your digestion system moving again. You are also encouraged to make good use of the patient regulated pain medication day and night. It's easier for your body to heal if you're not dealing with pain. Sounded reasonable to me. And who knew a catheter could be such an asset when the simple act of getting out of bed was to much to contemplate. 

Day 2

Clear liquid and liquid diets suck big time. I realize it's necessary, but where's the nutrition? They kept trying to push soy milk, fruit juices, vanilla pudding and bouillon, holy blood sugar Bat Girl. The one positive note is that I developed a new fondness for Cream of Wheat. Once I graduated to real food on Day 4 the menu was a lot better. 

I can't say enough about the doctors, nurses and staff at Kaiser SF. Some of them were working long shifts, but always made sure their patients were their first priority. They were professional, caring, supportive, and full of fun. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine.

Got unplugged day 4 and graduated to a walker and free range of the corridors. Also got to take a shower. I had a little private bathroom with a hand held shower head. The stuff they gave me for shampoo (I use the term loosely) was the consistency of snot and didn't soap up. It made my hands slick and it was hard to control hand held. I ended up spraying down my nurse, the towels and my gown. We both about collapsed in a fit of laughter. 

You know those little things in life you often take for granted? Well surgery brought the concept to a whole new level. Farting, pooping and walking were manna from heaven in my book. Whining, being cranky and cursing like a sailor are part of the healing process, so attitude is encouraged. 

Rod busted me out of the hospital on the afternoon of the 12th. Evidently one of the side effects of surgery and being on your back for 5 days is inflamed joints. I walked out of the hospital unassisted but Holy Knees Louise I could hardly walk the next day. I went to see my primary doc at Kaiser SR and had to have a wheel chair. She came in, gave me a smile and said "You are human, this is the first time I've seen you even look slightly tired during this entire journey. You must be related to the Energizer Bunny." 

Show me the exit

Things are pretty much back to normal and then some. We're back to walking 1.5 to 2.5 miles a day. My belly still looks like I walked into a load of buckshot: four holes for the laparoscope and drains and one incision with five or six stitches. All were closed with Steri-Strips that were supposed to fall off in two weeks. Mine seem to be related to NASCAR 200 mph duct tape, 19 days and they were still holding fast. Got permission to gently pull them off. Oh Yeah!

WTF moments: Since the surgery my platelet count is adequate for the first time in 2 years and I'm not bruising at my insulin injection sites. The answer is no spleen, platelets can once again roam at will. I'm sleeping better, my acid reflex has abated, the sporadic leg cramps have ceased and my alligator skin has improved. You just never know.