If you read about the surgery you know that it was an extensive one. Well, it was even a little more extensive than we previously thought. We later learned that this type of surgery is hardly done anymore due to the low survival rate: 30%. Instead of lasting 5-7 hours, it ended up lasting 11.5 hours. Yeah, I was in surgery for nearly 12 hours. It's something I wouldn't really recommend. My family received calls every hour or so updating them on my status and the overall progress of the surgery. It was 5 hours until they received the call that the surgeons finally reached the mass they went in for. To make matters worse, part of the mass was bordering a kidney. We were blessed with a truly great surgeon, however. The other surgeons working with the main surgeon later told my parents that most surgeons would have just taken the kidney too; my surgeon simply slowed down, took his time and cut out the mass without taking my kidney.
It was then time to remove it and slice it up to run pathology on the mass. If you remember, the main concern was that there was a chance that the mass contained teratoma. Teratoma is a benign mass that is undetectable and at some point turns into a malignancy that is untreatable by any type of chemotherapy or radiation. Not only was there teratoma, there was quite a lot of it. Out of everything they removed, over 60% of it was teratoma. Surgery proved to be a prudent decision.
Because of the fact that teratoma was present, they then had to go back in and remove all of the lymph nodes in my abdomen. Then they were able to put all of the organs they had previously taken out of my body to get to the mass back inside of my body and staple me up. For those of you who are wondering, the scar is pretty nice. It's about 14 inches long and they cut around my belly-button forming a small detour in an otherwise straight path from the base of my sternum to the top of my pelvis. There were 40 staples that were a little less than 1cm apart.
I haven't had too many complications after the surgery. They expected me to be in ICU with a ventilator for at least 24 hours. I did stay in ICU for a while, but I was off the ventilator in a little less than 2 hours after the surgery. Really, that's a miracle in itself. They told me that I would be in the hospital for up to a week, and was out in 4 days. I had a lot of pain to begin with and it wasn't all great. The week after my surgery, I had some sort of stomach bug. And, if you can imagine, throwing up that close to a major abdominal surgery isn't pleasant. In fact, it is probably some of the worst pain I've ever had to experience. It literally felt like my abdomen was ripping apart. I got through that day, started doing better and then I got the stomach but again the next week. It wasn't fun, but it was considerably easier than the previous week.
Since then, everything has gotten progressively better. I've been able to go back to work and even started to jog slowly last week. I'm doing my best to not rush things but sometimes that gets difficult. You begin to feel better and you just want to get back into life. But, I have to remember that I'm still recovering from not only a major surgery, but nearly 9 months of a life-threatening disease filled with surgeries and grueling chemotherapy treatments. If I'm honest, I'm really worn-out. I'm not even close to where I used to be physically, and emotionally it's been just as hard. Yes, I've handled everything well. Yes, I've been able to get through everything better than most. Yes, I have so much to be thankful for. But, it has still taken its toll on me.
Unfortunately, I'm not quite finished yet. One more. I have one more surgery that is scheduled for August 14th. This one is to remove the small mass that has been in my chest the whole time. The mass is 2cm; it hasn't grown and it hasn't gotten any smaller through all of the treatments. This surgery won't be as extensive as the last, but it's still another surgery. They will go in through my right side, in-between my ribs. They will begin with a small incision and a scope and will do everything they can to remove the mass in that manner. Please pray that's all that has to happen. If they can't remove it with a scope they'll have to make a much larger incision on my side and then spread my ribs apart and remove it that way. I'm like anyone else, and would much rather have a smaller incision and not have to have my ribs spread apart.
Even though I have to have a surgery, I'm at the end of it all. For this I'm glad. So, as far as prayer requests go:
- Pray that I continue to recover well and there are no more complications
- Pray that I can be patient and allow my body to rest and begin to build itself back up to get prepared for this next surgery
- Pray that the next surgery goes well and that nothing major has to be done. Agree with us that it can be done quickly and just with the scope.