Getting Ready for the Cut

I had my last consult with my surgeon this Monday. They have pads of 8.5″ x 11″ paper with the stomach and all the blobby parts all around it, intended for surgeons to use explaining the procedure they’re going to perform. So he was drawing all over it since the Whipple procedure takes out a lot of different blobby bits. One encouraging thing he mentioned was that attaching the truncated pancreas back to the now stretched small intestine is a lot like “sewing a stick of butter to a steak”. I think I like the sense of humor that surgeons have.

We were all jolly actually. I’ve put a few pounds on since quitting the chemo, as recommended by pretty much everyone. I’d strong and healthy, and my surgeon is indeed world class. He did tell me that there’s a 1 in 100 chance I’ll die, and asked me how I felt about that. I gave him my standard answer, that I’ve worked out my feels about dying and my biggest concern was more about “the hole that I’d leave afterwards”. He took that as a good sign and we just moved the conversation forward.

We went over all the stuff to do before the surgery, what I can & cannot eat leading up to it, when to show up, etc. Per your questions, they told us it would be just fine for Melissa to hang out in my room at the ICU and later in my hospital room. Yes there’s a place for her to stretch out and sleep in the ICU, next to my bed. We’ve compiled a list of emails and phone numbers of people to inform as I’m going through the surgery and the recovery in the hospital. We’ve also compiled a shorter list of people that Melissa can call on for help if she needs it.

We also went over the 3 phases of recovery while I’m in the hospital over the expected 7 days of an average stay; which tubes stay in, which come out and when, the point where I’ll switch from an epidural to pain meds, and so on. I’ll be on my feet almost immediately after getting out of the ICU. It is key that I get on my feet regularly throughout my recovery, more and more. The body does not heal the guts very well unless it perceives that there’s a need, so lying around is just out. Good, I get bored easily.

The folks at work have been great too. I’ve got assurances all the way up to my VP, and my team members are awesome, picking up on all the threads I’m leaving behind for a month or so. Their number one message is that my focus is to heal and not to come back until I know I can do the work without knocking myself out. Cool! Special kudos to my boss too. I have a genuine friend there.

OK, so that’s it for now. 5 days and counting….