Last night Lois and I had an hour to talk and pray together. Words fail to express our appreciation for all your prayers, calls, emails, and visits – both for us and the whole family. We’re amazed at the outpouring of love and concern.
This morning we learned that the Dr ruled out an epidural for pain management following the surgery due to the fever which they can’t get to stay below 100. That means we’ll be using narcotics to control pain and they will make Lois very sleepy most of the time for the next couple of days.
I was able to stay with Lois in pre-op until they took her into surgery. Joy and Kari each had a turn with us as well. The surgery started late due to the epidural decisions and another surgery running late so they didn’t actually start the procedure until 1 pm. They finished up about 5:45 and then Lois was in recovery for 90 minutes. Lois was out of recovery and back in the room she left this morning by 8:30 pm. I’m writing this from her room while at the same time, reminding her that she can push the button for more pain medication every six minutes.
The surgeon spoke to us at 6 pm and this is what we learned:
- The mass in and around the cecum was larger than anticipated but they could’ve opened her up and found her full of cancer. That was not the case. They removed the large tumor/mass along with about 2 feet of large intestine.
- The surgeon was able to reattach the large and small intestines and no colostomy was required.
- The mass had tentacles which reached her pelvic region and involved much of her right ovary so they removed that ovary and the right fallopian tube.
- The mass had also attacked the bladder so they took part of the bladder and repaired the hole.
- There was no mass in the pelvic area, however there was some fluid collection and they inserted a drainage tube at that site.
- All the lymph nodes in the abdomen looked inflamed and they were removed.
- A leak or infection in the bowel where they reattached the small and large intestine.
- A leak or infection in the repaired bladder.
- Infection at the incision which is 12 inches long and runs vertically from just below the sternum.
- The fluid in the pelvic region did not explain the fever. That is still somewhat of a mystery and will be the cause of a lot more tests. . . .
What we have to look forward to:
- Seven days in the hospital – the first couple of days will be mostly pain management.
- 6-8 weeks at home to heal and work with the oncology team on possible plans to tackle the carcinoma in the liver. (The surgeon did visually inspect the liver but didn’t touch it. He could see the larger of the three tumors and one small tumor.)
- Chemo and/or radiation to attempt to reduce the size of the tumors in the liver.
- A PET scan to try to determine the status of a very suspicious but small spot on the lower lobe of the right lung.
- Possible surgery on the liver (but not for 4-6 months).
The family’s priorities:
Managing pain. Although Lois did not complain of any pain prior to the “flu” on Sunday, she will have pain now – not only during recovery from the incision, but from all that has been moved around and removed from her abdomen. They also suspect that taking out the mass in and around the cecum was kind of like hitting a bee hive with a baseball bat and hoping that the hive hanging on the next limb won’t be upset. In other words, they’ve prepared us for the possibility that the tumors in the liver could become aggressive.
Quality of life. We’ll put a lot of effort into making certain every day includes family, laughter, and grandchildren. We’ll make as many memories as possible. Lois will continue to fully participate in decisions regarding her care and we’ll vigorously protect her dignity. We will not withhold any information from her and she will make as many decisions as she wants to make. We will not sacrifice quality of life for future unknowns.
Plans for dealing with the carcinoma in the liver. We will work with an oncology team to determine the best method for dealing with the cancer in the liver without sacrificing quality of life or causing unreasonable pain. We recognize the risks associated with the reality that all the blood in the body continuously passes through the liver which is full of cancer.
This is probably more information that most of you want to know so I’ll close with this: Lois is in good humor, her color is good considering what she’s been through, and she is drifting in and out of sleep. She is responding to simple questions and says she isn’t in pain.