Whew. And I thought all previous doctor visits were information overload. They pale in comparison to today’s meeting with my doc. I took about 6 pages of notes (on a small note pad, but still). I’ll try to break it down in a consumable manner.
Prior To Surgery
- More blood work! Check.
- Post-opp pain med pick up. Check. The doc allowed me to pick them up now so I don’t have to worry about waiting for them once I’m released from hospital.
- 24 hours before, I’m on a clear food/liquids diet. Thankfully, coffee is included in the list of what’s allowed. Meals of broth, jello and juice await me Sunday.
- 4:00pm on Sunday, I take a dose of Magnesium Citrate. I got lemon flavored. It’s an effervescent laxative. As the nurse said, “get comfortable because you won’t be leaving your house…”
- I’m the first case of the day! This means the hanger won’t have completely taken over.
- Arrival at 5:30am
- Surgery at 7:30am, surgery will last 3-4 hours
- They will cut from the base of my sternum to the top of my pelvic bone. They will close it with staples. That’s going to be a wicked awesome scar.
- They will start by removing the mass, and while they wait on the pathology results will move onto the liver and the lymph nodes.
- The other surgeon working on me is Dr. Krishnansu Tewari
- The liver specialist who is consulting is Dr. Julio Vaquerano
Here’s the various outcomes listed from good to not-so-good:
- No cancer. There’s still a small chance it could be benign and the liver and lymph nodes have nothing wrong with them. Here’s to hoping!
- Definitely borderline. Nobody dies from this kind of tumor. There’s a 8-12% chance of recurrence in the other ovary, but the doctor’s recommendation is to preserve fertility if the other ovary looks normal. We’ve agreed this is reasonable and will take her advice if this is what we’re facing.
- At least borderline. This means they’re not quite sure and that it could still be malignant. The mass is pretty massive (pun intended) so it’s possible we won’t get definitive results. If they’re even remotely unsure, everything comes out. A port will be installed in my abdomen for chemotherapy, which may or may not be needed. (But, it’s easier to remove than to go back into another surgery.)
- Malignant. Speaks for itself. Everything comes out, including the fat pad, lymph nodes, and the appendix (4 for the price of 1). Port installed, IP chemo will begin 4 weeks after surgery.
- New things for me to worry about. Ugh. There’s a lot unknown until they get in there. If there’s anything on my bowel or bladder, I’ve given consent to take what they need to make sure any cancerous anything is gone. This could mean removal of sections of my intestines and bladder, which could mean a temporary or even permanent colostomy/urostomy. Um, fuck that.
- Bleeding is a risk because the liver is involved. They’ve typed my blood (O+) and a blood transfusion may be necessary. My chance of getting HIV/Hep C is 1 in 2 million.
- Infection is a risk. They are putting antibiotics in my IV prior to surgery. If any surgery is required on my bowels, I will also get antibiotics after surgery. (Please, please, PLEASE, let there be nothing wrong with my bowels.)
- Bladder infection is a potential risk as well. I’ll have a catheter in place for 1-2 days.
- I will be monitored in ICU for 1 night and then I’ll be transferred to a regular room after that. I should anticipate being in hospital for 4 days total. Merry Christmas to me! (Again, if you want to visit me at hospital, coordinate with Kenji.)
- I’ll be on a dilaudid pump until I start eating. They may switch me to pills if I get really nauseous.
- The staples will be removed approximately 2 weeks after surgery.
- I will have a post-op meeting with my doc the first week after surgery, and probably every week thereafter until the end of my recovery (6 weeks).
- My doc stands firm that it will take 6 weeks for recovery, where I’ll be 80% and it will be 3 months until I’m completely normal. I am not allowed to work those 6 weeks (we’ll see about that…).
At Home Care
- No lifting ANYTHING. (10lbs is the limit)
- I can shower!!! THANK GOODNESS. I will not be allowed to shower at the hospital, so this is glorious news. No soaking allowed. I have to make sure the wound is super dry (doc even suggested using a hair dryer on cold to ensure absolute dryness) and I have to use a new towel every time.
- No dietary restrictions, just have to go slowly.
- Physical activity is allowed in moderation. Nothing that involves the core, but walking around is allowed, and encouraged. So those visiting can expect to take long, romantic strolls with me to the park.
- No driving allowed the first week (this is because I’ll be on a lot of pain meds).
- I should anticipate lots of fatigue and I should listen to my body.
Other Cool Stuff
- They will totally take a photo of the mass they remove so I can see it! I know, I know… super weird. But I’m strangely excited to see what it looks like.
- My doc gave me her cell phone number should I want to reach her this weekend or during the first week of my recovery. THIS IS HUGE. They don’t do that usually. Have I mentioned how much I like my doctor?
- Chewing gum has been medically proven to aid in passing gas. (Apparently, gas pain is something I’ll have to contend with the first couple of weeks.)
That’s the run-down. Feel free to comment with questions. Kenji will be live-blogging on Monday so everyone can hear as soon as possible how it’s gone.