29
Feb
08

Surgery

It’s Brian here at the editor’s desk tonight (literally, as Julie really does have an editor’s desk). Julie is recovering from a long day of surgery.

The day started at roughly “way-too-early” o’clock and we were out the door by 5AM for arrival at 5:30 at the hospital. Needless to say, traffic wasn’t a problem. We checked in and went through the usual surgery preparations (“Do you have a pulse?”, “Is your temperature in two or more digits?”, “I need to verify that you have blood”). The hospital staff operated in their usual professional, efficient, and friendly manner that we appreciate so much. The anesthesiologist decided it was time to get this show on the road, and wheeled Julie off to the OR at 7:45 for her own personal triathlon: chemo port removal, breast reconstruction, and ovary removal. I went off to find something hot to drink and a place to take a nap.

The plastic surgeon (an odd term if you think about it, since neither he or his patients are plastic) came out to see me at 9:30 to report that the chemo port removal and the reconstruction surgery went well, and that the ovary removal was in progress. We discussed that Julie’s next few days at home might be difficult. Certain actions like getting up out of a chair were going to be complex, since she couldn’t use her arms to lift (it messes with the healing), but her abdomen was going to be sore from the other surgery. I realized that the normal way I would help a person get up would be to lift under the arm, and that was probably verboten. He said I should get behind her and push. I’m not sure I quite have the picture on that, so this may be interesting.

One of the nurses called from the OR about 11:30 to say that all was well, but that it was taking longer than expected and not to worry. That call says something about the staff. Making that call didn’t help Julie’s surgery. It was made just out of consideration for me. I think that’s great.

At 2 PM, the remaining surgeon came out to tell me that Julie was in recovery and the surgery had gone challengingly, but well. Apparently, in most cases the various components of the body in that area are reasonably easy to separate from each other. Julie, however, is different. Perhaps due to her hysterectomy a few years ago, a lot of adhesion had developed. Everything was stuck pretty tightly to everything else and nothing wanted to let go. The surgeon had hoped initially to perform the surgery laparoscopically and by hand. After discovering all the adhesion, however, she fell back to plan B, which was to perform the surgery laparoscopically, but through the use of a robot. She told me this was a perfect case for justifying the use of the robotic controls. The robot gave her much better 3D visualization, and it also gave her microscopic control of the instruments.

So, after quite a lot of effort, the ovaries were removed successfully and all the surrounding tissue was left intact. The pathologist examined the removed tissue with particular care given Julie’s recent cancer battle, and reported no indication of cancer at all. That was what we expect to hear, but it was still a relief to hear.

Julie spent 2 hours in recovery, and I saw her in her hospital room about 4:20. She was fairly groggy, but remarkably coherent and showing much of the typical Julie humor. Some nausea set in in response to a sip of ginger ale, and the nurse responded promptly with some anti-nausea medication that took care of that.

I talked to her later in the evening, and she was having toast and seemed to be doing fine with it.

So there we are. Julie is expected home tomorrow or on Sunday. She’ll have a couple of weeks of healing, and then hopefully life can get pretty much back to normal.

We’ve talked to some of you today, and we appreciate the good wishes and support we’ve received from all of you throughout this ordeal.

Take care, everyone. Goodnight.

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