Getting A Little Nervous!!!

The last time I was here I had just finished Chemo and radiation. The first week or so I couldn’t eat anything and everything I poured down the feeding tube made me sick, resulting in additional weight loss and dehydration.  The radiation oncologist said my ability to eat should improve in a week or so; by golly she was right.  It has gradually improved to the point I can now eat about anything I want including hamburgers, pizza and even a chicken fried steak, gonna try some Mexican in a couple days.  Liquids are still a bit of a challenge but I handle them well enough that the only thing that goes down the tube is a little water to flush the thing.  Needless to say I am no longer dehydrated and I have gained about 8 or 10 pounds.

I feel good, even have a little bit of spring in my step.  The hair has stabilized at least and it may be my imagination but I think it is beginning to grow a little bit.  I probably pushed it a bit but I felt good enough to make a run to my home away from home and make sure the boats were still floating; and enjoyed a nice dinner with some good friends.  It was the first time I had eaten in a restaurant since early April.

I know the title doesn’t match the previous two paragraphs.  If things are going that good why should I be nervous?  Awe, let me tell you what is peeking around the corner.  Last time I was here I talked about this surgery thing that would probably happen in late August or early September.  That little event is now scheduled for August 9th, which is only two weeks and two days away.  I took the cancer diagnosis, the chemo and radiation in stride but for some goofy reason I am a little nervous about the surgery.

Between now and surgery day I have 7 medically related appointments for things like EKG, X-ray, Pet Scan, Endoscopy and just some routine preop things. I won’t go into detail on the surgery since I did that last time I was here, but I will summarize.  The surgery will take about eight hours, I will be in ICU for a week to ten days and in the hospital for three weeks or so.  All this will happen at the OU Medical Center.

That just about sums up what is happening in my little world tonight.  I’m not sure when I will be back, if they let me have my iPad I might try to communicate from the hospital but that probably won’t happen so it will probably be a while.

You might mention me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

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Catchin’ Up……………

Disclaimer:  To my Facebook friends the first part of this will be somewhat redundant.  I have done a few “how goes it” Facebook posts.  I keep those short.  Getting a little wordy or maybe even carried away is one thing I like about blogging.

I had my final of 5 chemo sessions on June 19th.  I received two different drugs, Taxol and Carboplatin, five sessions and by my thinking that is 10 chemo infusions.  My system handled the chemo remarkably well.  I had the typical fatigue and minor but almost continual nausea.  My hair started slipping about the fourth treatment; the jury is still out on that one.  Still have some hair but also still losing some hair; honestly I don’t really care.

I had the final of 25 radiation treatments on June 27th.  Honestly, contrary to the norm, I didn’t handle the radiation as well as I did the chemo. I think tumor location was a major factor in the problems I continue to encounter.  My lower esophagus and stomach inlet were in a constant state of change, or turmoil might be more descriptive, affecting my ability or inability to eat a little table food and to drink any liquids.  The radiation in that area contributed significantly to the nausea / indigestion issues previously mentioned.

The Dr. seems to think in a few more days I will be able to get more of my nutrition via table food, god I hope he is right. I have given it a sincere effort but my system just doesn’t play well with that stuff I pour down the feeding tube.  I have worked with two different nutritionists and four different formulas, so far I haven’t found the secret.

To sum up radiation and chemo:  For the duration I felt like getting out of bed, showering and getting dressed every day.  With the exception of the final two radiation treatments I was comfortable driving myself to Norman Regional for the treatments.  Thanks Lori for serving as my designated driver for those final two.  I have continued to lose a little weight and I have to get a handle on that.  Since mid-March I have lost about 35-40 pounds. If that loss was due to willpower and a good diet/exercise program I would be very happy, but with what lies ahead weight loss is not a good thing.

The next four weeks I will be in recovery mode.  Toward the end of July I will have a PET scan and an Endoscopy (borescope inspection).  The PET scan will be the 31st of July, not sure of the date on the scope. Both of those are becoming somewhat routine.

Last time I was here I mentioned a pulmonary test and a nuclear stress test.  I had both of those and the results were good.  That pulmonary test is probably worthy of its own blog post or at least a paragraph in this one but I’m not in the mood to write comedy or sarcasm tonight.  Maybe later.

I had a second visit with the surgeon a couple days ago.  I shared his overview last time I was here, I got the in depth version with all the details this time. The procedure is called an Esophagectomy.  I will try to summarize with some detail, timelines etc.  The date of surgery hasn’t been set but it should be the last couple weeks of August.

I’m not going to try to quote the Dr. on what he is going to do, but I will paraphrase. On a surgical scale of 1 to 10 this is a 12, definitely got my attention.  It will take about eight hours and consist of removing the lower two thirds of the esophagus and use the stomach to build a new esophagus.

I will be in ICU for 7 to 10 days following the surgery and in the hospital for a minimum of three weeks.  I will immediately have controlled amounts of ice and water via mouth that was good to hear.  I will have a new kind of feeding tube, it will stay with me until I can handle enough table food to sustain myself, and I’m not sure on that timetable.  The new tube will pump the formula directly into my small intestine, kind of like an IV pump.

Looking way down the road.  Maybe 90 days to somewhat normal and the Dr. said to expect six months to a year for full recovery.

I am completely comfortable with the surgeon, yes I know there are always risks but I really think this is my only shot at some good years in my future.

Please overlook the typos, grammar etc. in this one, I’m too tired to edit tonight.  I’m not sure when I will be back; it will probably be a while.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave