Saturday, June 04, 2005

A humbling experience

Wow. It's Saturday morning, less than 4 days after major abdominal surgery, and I'm not in the hospital.


Apparently I've been blessed with a body that recovers well from surgery. When Dr. Foster came by to see me on Wednseday afternoon, he did a bit of a double-take, surprised that I looked alert and in good spirits. By Thursday afternoon he and his team of doctors-in-training had decided it was time for me to go home. I was released Friday morning (early afternoon if you include us being held hostage by the hospital pharmacy while waiting for my at-home meds) and we drove to St. Louis that afternoon. I sat in the front seat and got out to walk around every chance I had. There was a ongoing contest between me and Sarah's mother, who has gone through a knee replacement and back surgery in the last couple of years, as to who could walk the fastest. It was like tortise racing.

Here's the tale of the tape (because guys like to compare lengths on everything):

Incision length: 11 1/2 inches
The incision begins about an inch below the bottom of my sternum and heads south, detouring to the left around my navel, and ends just below my waist line.

Number of staples: 37
The 1/4 inch staples will be removed in a couple of weeks and replaced with steri-strips, another fabulous 3M product. I have the staple remover and steri-strips in a bag given to me by IU, so I suppose we could do this on our own if we REALLY wanted to.

It's really amazing to me over the past couple of days how my mobility seems to have increased drastically just by the passing of time. Last night I was able to roll from side to side in bed with little difficulty or discomfort. This morning I hardly needed to push off of anything when working my way out of bed. Thanks to my friend Marjorie for her breathing advice; it has certainly been a huge help.

I'm on Vicodin for pain, along with Colace to help "keep things moving" while I take the pain meds. According to the docs, once I'm off the pain meds, I can return to driving provided that I can stomp on the brake pedal and turn my head from side to side. The only other restriction is no heavy lifting for 6 weeks.

So, what's next? It would be a bit premature to say I am "cancer-free" at this point, since there is a possibility of future recurrence (that is, there may still be cancer cells that aren't big enough to be picked up through blood tests or scans). For my particular brand of testicular cancer (non-seminoma), the greatest risk of recurrence is in the first two years after treatment is completed. But from a practical standpoint, that's the way I'll be treated over the next several years - as if all the cancer is gone and we're just checking to see if any has tried to make a comeback.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law is calling upon all her sewing skills to make me a Sponge-Bob extra-long night shirt, so I can go about the house without wearing anything that has a waistband that presses on the incision (yes, that includes underwear). I will definitely be the height of fashion for a while. If you come to visit, I promise not to cross my legs when I sit.

Thanks to everyone for their love, prayers, support, and advice. Stay tuned for future updates - maybe we'll have to change the name of the blog to "Vinny Had Cancer"...


Anonymous said...

Acquire some industrial-sized kotex pads from your female relatives to tuck against your incision. Thin ones won't work, but the cheap, thick overnight ones placed on top of your incision aren't too bad for cushioning. Two belly surgeries - trust me on this. It'll make the undies issue better, too. Drawstring pants are also something to try. Know anyone you can borrow baggy scrub pants from? That was about all I could wear the first few weeks after my x-lap.

Happy Healing!