Phase 4 Well Begun
This cancer beast is on its way to being tamed. We are officially two weeks post esophagectomy and he has been home for 1 week. He went home last Friday afternoon. The surgeon was able to do the procedure completely minimally invasive. His largest incision is only about 3 inches long. He came out of surgery with a plethora of tubes and, after anesthesia wore off, a grumpy bear attitude about having an NG tube. His main and most vocal complaint was that his mouth and throat were dry from the tube. That was fun, trying to get him to listen to his providers and not try to sneak sips of water or ice or anything else to wet his mouth and throat.
In the hospital, he was on tube feedings at 40 mL/hr over 24 hours and had eventually progressed to a full liquid diet before discharge. Once we got home, tube feedings continued only overnight and the full liquid diet was observed. The first few days were not easy but also not overly difficult. Even though pain in his side prevented a lot of physical activity or movement, it did not take long for some of it to go away so he could be more independent. His main goal was not to be a burden to me. Oh how many times I have reassured him that he is not a burden? I will do anything I can to make his healing transition easier. I can see his strength returning more every day even if the progress is slow. And he is starting to get bored at home!
First Post Surgical Follow Up
Today was a remarkably wonderful day all around. We started appointments with a barium swallow and a chest xray. The barium swallowed showed no leaks and rapid movement through the remaining old esophagus into the remaining stomach. It was interesting to see on the imaging the new positions of internal organs. The only possible downside we noted with the surgeon was that the stomach was not emptying quickly. This was expected though as Hubby has gastroparesis prior to the surgery. At some point down the line he may need the pyloric sphincter dilated or possibly an injection of botox. Not a concern just yet.
Chest xray was clear. Even though he is still coughing a little bit and has some shortness of breath with continued movement or speaking, there is no pneumonia. It is just another facet of his recovery. I will keep encouraging him to greater activity. Some moments I cannot believe surgery was on November 4th.
The surgeon is immensely satisfied with how he is progressing. No more dressings are needed on any incision sites unless they develop small amounts of drainage that bother him. Otherwise it is open to air and shower like normal. The only site he has to be careful of is his jtube site.
Diet is officially progressed from full liquid to… Whatever! We received the verdict of progressing to soft foods are fine, but honestly, any food he wants is okay as long as he chews well, takes small bites, keeps the quantities small, and waits about an hour before eating more per the surgeon. So ecstatic to get that permission. So, dinner tonight? Olive Garden!
We have not been here for about 1 month. Coming back to eat was joyous. The manager and two of our regular servers have all asked us how surgery went, how he is doing now, and expressed their happiness to see us back. The manager even hugged him! We will be taking leftovers home for certain.
The jtube feedings are still scheduled for about the next week. If he is eating well, we have permission to stop them and just flush the tube as directed until our next appointment.
The best news? He is officially cleared for return to his work. Light duty to start. He can advance in what he does slowly. His instructions are no heavy lifting, no major body contortions. But, he can move forward as fast as he wants to provided he is listening to his body and using his head. He will try a couple half days next week and see if work agrees with him yet.
This is our second Friday in a row with good news. Looking forward to the coming week. Looking forward to Thanksgiving. Thank you to everyone that has been praying and keeping us in your thoughts.
Signing off for now, but I shall return!