Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016
Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Death to Cancer - Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016

What a hectic couple of days...

Wednesday: Susan M. and I did a 10k Volksmarch from Mission San Jose to Mission San Juan. I was up at 5:00 a.m. so I could meet her at 6:30 a.m. BTSCU (before the sun comes up). It is so friggin' hot and humid in South Texas right now that we have to start very early to finish shortly after the sun comes up (8:20 a.m.) Still, we were both soaked with sweat. We decided to go to "Star Trek Beyond" at 2:00 p.m. because Bob's surgery was scheduled for 2 and they had to prep him and administer anesthesia before surgery. That gave us time to shower and have lunch (or so we thought).

At 10:30 a.m. I took Bob to the hospital where he checked in at 11:00 a.m. and did the requisite paperwork. About 11:30 they called him back to the preoperative area. I had eaten breakfast at 5:30 a.m. and was getting hungry. I decided not to eat because I wanted to be in the waiting area when they called me back to the pre-op area and Susan and I wanted to go out to lunch before the movie.

Around 12:15, they finally called me back to be with Bob. By that time, I had read almost a whole issue of Texas Highways from 2015. We thought sure a nurse or someone would come in and tell us when Bob would go to surgery. 12:40 came and went, then 1:00 p.m., still no one. I was bored because I forgot to bring something to read. Bob was happily engrossed in his new John Grisham novel.

Susan M. was texting me asking when I could meet her for lunch. When I told her I didn't know, she said she was going to drive to the theater which was 1/2 hour from her home and to let her know if we would meet for lunch or meet at the theater at 2:00 p.m.

1:45 rolled around and still no word on surgery; I went to the nurses station to ask when he would be taken to surgery. They let us know pretty quickly that Bob's surgery had been delayed to 3:00 p.m. Bob said I should go to the movie.

I called Susan who had already bought our tickets and told her I'd be there in about 20 minutes. She had a big tub of popcorn waiting. What a friend. I arrived at the theater at 2:10 and the previews were still playing. (I found out later that Bob didn't go to anesthesia until 3:30 p.m.)

We enjoyed the movie, then I headed home to get Bob's clothes and computer so he'd have them when he woke up. Since I hadn't had lunch (except 1/2 tub of popcorn) I warmed up two chicken thighs and steamed broccoli. When dinner was over, I gathered up Bob's stuff, a book for me and some magazines.

As I was driving to the hospital, Bob's neck surgeon called me. He said he was done with his portion of the procedure. He's pretty sure they removed all the cancer. Part of Bob's sternocleidomastoid muscle was removed and they cut a small nerve which may cause  numbness around his ear for the rest of his life.

They tested the edges and the deep parts of the incision to make sure they were clear of cancer cells, and they took more samples that were being sent to a lab for pathology. They will have the results of those samples in a week.

Now here's the fascinating part and appeals to my scientific curiosity...The neck is a small area for all the muscles, veins, nerves, and arteries to make their way up into the brain. By removing part of the neck muscle, those arteries, nerves and veins would only have a thin layer of skin over them if they closed up his wound as it was. The muscle they took out had protected them. So, they put cadaver skin in the wound to provide protection, and the plastic surgeon did a partial face lift pulling muscle from under the chin up toward his ear to provide even more protection. To close it all up, the plastic surgeon pulled some loose skin from under his neck and tightened it over all the layers, then stitched it up. Here is a photo of this year's scar, which is shaped like an upside-down "V" or "Y."



When a muscle is cut, the body produces a lot of fluid. In order for this fluid to be removed, a drain tube was put in the wound. You can see it to the right of the incision. It drains down into a little bulb that we have to empty and measure whenever it gets half full. After the fluid drainage slows down, the doctor will remove the tube.

I arrived at the hospital at 7:00 p.m. Not too long after I arrived, Dr. Miller (neck doctor) came into the waiting room to talk to me. He said he just left the operating room and Dr. Stallworth (plastic surgeon) was finishing the plastic surgery. They were closing up the wound. That was about 7:30 p.m. 

At 8:00 p.m., Dr. Stallworth came and explained what he had done and the final stitches were being put in. Bob would be out of surgery soon. After that, I received text messages (Patient Updates) on my phone at 8:35 and 9:18 p.m. The one at 9:18 p.m. said "Your loved one is sleeping." About 10:00 p.m., I was taken back to the post-op recovery area. Bob had been asking for me. He was still very much out of it. The nurses said I could spend five minutes with him.

In postop recovery while Bob was coming out from under the anesthetic, he was Mr. Comedian. One of the first things he said to me as he was waking up was, "Where's the buffet?" (He hadn't eaten for 24 hours.)

When I explained his scar last year looked like an "S" and this year it looks like a "V." He said, "Oh, we're working our way through the alphabet."

I emphatically stated, "No, no we're not!!"

Then the nurse asked him if there was anything else he wanted and he blurted out, "I want you to pay my medical bills." We all cracked up.

I was with him about 20 minutes, but he obviously needed more sleep. I went back to the waiting room.

At 11:30 p.m. a ward clerk came to get me. I was so exhausted having been up since 5:00 a.m. Bob was feeling pretty chipper by this point. They brought him jello and water so he could eat and gave him a pain pill. He is having a moderate headache on the left upper side of his head. I spent 1/2 hour with Bob, then headed home. I had to be up at 6 a.m. for work. I got to bed at 1 a.m. The cats and I crashed.

Thursday: We thought Bob would be discharged around 10 or 11 a.m. this morning. Ha! I had a text from Bob at 7:30 a.m. saying he was eating breakfast and the nurses would do their paperwork and he'd be ready to go home at 8:30 or 9 a.m. I let my boss know right away that I had to leave by 8 or 8:15.

I was at the hospital a little before 9 a.m. and we left about 9:30 a.m. On the way home we stopped at Walgreens to get a prescription filled and I had him home a little after 10 a.m. I was back at work by 10:45 a.m.

Bob was settled in his easy chair with his computer and his phone. He worked part of the afternoon and napped some too. We are hoping this surgery (his fifth on that side) is now completely gone and we won't have to go through this again. In the meantime, the dermatologist is going to keep a much closer eye on this area. They will examine his neck more often.
See how puffy the right side of his face is?
After work, I picked up Pad Thai for dinner, then did five loads of laundry. I am very tired. Bob is sleeping in the easy chair because of the drain tube in his neck.

Time for me to sleep too. Good night all. Have a good weekend.




9 comments:

  1. So glad to hear all the stress has left for now and Bob is resting comfortably. He looks good especially that the doctor pulled some of his skin which would make him look younger :)

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  2. Yeah, congrats on the good news. Glad he is home, resting, and looks marvelous. Take care of yourself, Susan.

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  3. Fingers crossed this is truly the end of this cancer stuff! Wishing you a smooth recovery Bob.

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  4. Glad to hear it is over. Wishing a speedy recovery.

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  5. wishing for a speedy recover and no more problems. Healing thoughts are sent

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  6. May God provide healing for Bob. May He also help you through this difficult time, Susan. Blessings, Lynn (fellow blogger)

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  7. I had no idea he's had 5 surgeries on that side. Wow that's a lot and he's still so cheery. His comments cracked me up. A very busy day for you both. Tell Bob I said that's a lot of trouble to go through for a facelift. ;-)

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  8. What an ordeal! And I thought we had medical "issues"!
    Hope you are getting rested and the recovery goes smoothly!

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  9. This has been an adventure for sure. Prayers for a great recovery.

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