If you’re following along at home, you know that Kirsten has sojourned through hell these past few months. You may also know that she recently learned her cancer has spread to her lymph nodes, a less-than-awesome development.
Kirsten wasn’t sure if she wanted to go ahead with the surgery to remove the lymph nodes and tumors, as there is no guarantee it will buy her more time, and the surgery itself carries some risks. Two weeks ago when she went in for an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy, she ended up staying the night in the hospital. However, after consulting several times with Dr. MacGillivray, her surgeon, she decided to go ahead with it.
Surgery was scheduled to be one hour, and start at 16:30 yesterday afternoon. The operating rooms were backed up, so we got to watch the nurses struggle to figure out their new computer system, which was less than assuring. After talking to nurses, Dr. MacGillivray, an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, medical student, and surgical resident, Kirsten was wheeled off to the operating room.
There was no way in hell I was going to wait in the depressing waiting room of the Ambulatory Surgical Unit (ASU). Instead, I drove across town to Otto Pizza for a few slices and pints. The nurses had my phone number, and I was confident things would go well in surgery.
When I returned to the hospital around the time she was supposed to be out of surgery, she wasn’t. I wasn’t surprised. Nothing with Kirsten is smooth at this point. She’s just too complicated; she’s too ill.
Finally, after much reading, waiting, and worrying, I got a call from the nurse letting me know I could come visit. I had moved from the small Admissions waiting area (much nicer and with far fewer people) to the main entrance foyer. It was around 21:30.
Kirsten looked great. She was groggy, and obviously in significant pain, but smiling and happy to see me. They had given her a choice of going home or staying the night. Initially, she told them she wanted to go home, but I talked her out of it. She was in a lot of pain, could barely move her neck, and it was then 22:00. I left, after which they wheeled her to a room on the third floor. So now, if you’re keeping track, she’s been on the ground floor (SCU), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th floors in just the past few months. Woot! The tour is nearly complete. They need to have little punch cards and a prize for completing the tour. I want a prize, damnit!
I picked Kirsten up this morning. She was still smiling and cheery, as normal. She has a nasty scar that extends along most of the left side of her neck. It’s glued together, and should heal nicely. Neither of us got the debrief from Dr. MacGillivray, but the nurse read to us his notes. He removed several lymph nodes, and sent two of them to pathology for analysis. Hopefully this procedure will slow the spread of her cancer. Nothing is curative at this point; it’s all palliative. It will also be nice if we could finally determine exactly what type of cancer it is, and what it he primary source. We can hope, right?