I have surgery tomorrow.
A week ago I went and met with my surgeon and we discussed the plan for surgery and I got all my questions answered (as well as they can be). Here’s the summary. The PET scan I had the week before (the one where they inject me with radioactive isotopes and the cancer absorbs it and glows on the images) showed that indeed there is no more metastasis in my lymph nodes! (Which was one of the things I stood in faith about all those weeks ago, even when the surgeon said he could still see something and wasn’t sure.) This means I won’t have to worry about the cancer spreading to other regions of my body while I’m off chemo recovering from surgery and won’t need radiation. When I asked about incisions and how many and where, I was told if it were just my colon it would be a little laparoscopic incision around my belly button and if it were just my liver a diagonal incision just below my rib cage. But since it’s both, I’m going to have a central incision from my ribs down past my belly button to my pelvis, more or less. So basically my entire stomach is being split open. A friend joked, “Finally you won’t need all that makeup to show off your six pack, the scar can give all the central definition you’ll need”. It’s a good thing I like scars. Im just gonna say it, I will definitely miss my flat well defined abdominals and beach days will be interesting this summer.
The surgery will start in the liver and they’ll see how things look. The plan is still to remove the three smaller tumors from my left lobe and central part of my liver. If there’s time and they haven’t removed too much liver they’ll be brave and go for the forth tumor in my right lobe. Then they’ll head to my colon and take the tumor out there. If my colon is fibrous and it looks like it’ll leak they’ll then go and give me an ostomy and create an exit hole in my abdomen to allow the colon to heal without the stress of doing its job. The truth of the matter is, being a cancer anomaly, as far as age, health, fitness, and stubbornness, things like recovery, activity, and time frames are a grey area.
He said I’ll be with the anesthesiologist for the first two hours, getting baseline readings and an epidural to keep me from waking up in too much pain after the surgery. Then he’ll start the surgery around 9:30 am. “Now Jeannie,” he says to my mom, “I need you to understand that even starting that early it’s perfectly normal for me to still be working on her at eight or nine pm.” Also known as, it’s a ten to twelve hour surgery with the potential for me to be out for fourteen hours! Holy crap this is a major surgery!!!
There was more really good news given. I wouldn’t need to do golytely prep before the surgery. This was one of the things I was dreading most. Not eating before the surgery and having to do that horrible bowel prep again. I was planning on doing liquid diet for the two days leading up to the day before surgery just to make things easier. But what he told me was, I would be able to eat completely normally until the day before surgery!!! Such good news! I could do workouts and be with my friends without being a cranky starving wreck!
So I’ll be in ICU for one to three days and then in the hospital for up to ten days. Another thing he said was if he is able to remove all the cancer in one surgery I’ll have to stay in the hospital longer. I’m not a fan of this because the Crossfit Open starts the February 22. I know my doctor said walking would be a challenge after surgery but my post surgical goal is to go to the gym and cheer on my people as they do the first workout on February 23. So I hope I don’t have to stay in the hospital too long. (I’m also aware that this is pretty unrealistic but hey, a girls gotta dream!) One surgery is still the ideal and I still believe that’s how things are going to go! I’ll be on four to five days of bowel rest after the surgery which means no eating or drinking at allllll! I’ve been told I’ll be so uncomfortable and feeling so crappy that I won’t care about eating. Great. Just great.
All this logistics talk helped me recalibrate my heart for what’s ahead and to try and focus not on what I’ll be missing out on and unable to do but on making this the most efficient and best recovery ever. So I’ll write and draw and paint and read and finally finish the website for my business, Pike Physical Therapy and Fitness, and I’ll work on my base tan. The emotions of disappointment and unfairness come in waves, I’ve been tearing up while driving a lot this past week. The fight against sentiments like “I may never see these mountains again,” “I may never cuddle with Wallace again,” “I may never lift a barbell again,” “I might not hang out like this with my friends again,” “I might not hug my family again,” has been a bigger deal. But these thoughts do me no good! Cause really, I always appreciate things in my life. I’ve never really taken things for granted. Maybe it’s my personality or my realist mentality because Ive always known things are temporary and precious, even as a child. So I don’t let those thoughts or feelings take root. I dismiss them as soon as they come to mind. Somehow, I’m still not afraid of this surgery that will take a whole day and could end my life. I am confident in the things my God has whispered to my heart. There’s this verse in Luke that says “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God will be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” So shoot. I’d much rather believe and side with that than let fear and sadness “prepare” my heart for disappointment. I’m still in good head and heart space and feel the ceaseless prayers holding me up and anchoring me in hope.
Get ready guys, this is where things get good and we see my God do wonderful, crazy, and impossible things! Stay tuned!