Surgery and Recovery

I have been telling myself for two days that I was going to get on here and write. Honestly, it’s a good thing that did not happen. While I could have been freaking out over events out of my control, or just getting myself all worked up, by waiting, I have been able to better process what has gone on and where we are right now. It is still earlier, though, often with despairing thoughts trying to creep in. But for now, all is well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The day of surgery. To date, this is quite possibly the longest day of my life. We were only about 5 minutes late for a check in time of 7:15 AM, if even that much. It was wonderful how quickly they took him back for pre-operative preparation. Changed into the hospital gown and the staff got down to business with the questions and placing various lines. He swears he was not nervous or stressed going into surgery. I even got a smile out of him for a picture.

Surgery Preparation 11/04/2015
Surgery Preparation 11/04/2015

He was taken back for surgery at approximately 9:00 AM. This is when my world began to slow down. I brought distractions galore with me, from handheld video games, books, electronic devices, coloring books. Nothing could hold my attention for long periods of times, and I felt as though I was in a constant state of suppressed anxiety. Which, I was.

11:00 AM-ish, we received a call to my mobile phone with an update. They only just started surgery! For whatever reasons, there had been delays involving the epidural and a few other lines or catheters or something. My brain was barely hearing what I was told. All I knew, was that the waiting I had already been doing was not even worth the worry. He hadn’t even been operated on yet! Talk about keeping a lid on spazzing out.

Continued waiting. I went for a walk at one point to retrieve my chargers that were left in the vehicle. The fresh air was nice. On the whole, I stayed in the waiting room with very few excursions. My in-laws were waiting with me. I could tell waiting was not their favorite thing either as I tried to keep to myself so I wouldn’t drive them crazy.

Approximately 6 hours into surgery, we got the second call, in the waiting room. They had completed the first part of surgery, doing a bronchoscopy and whatever else, and were beginning the Ivor-Lewis procedure now. That didn’t seem correct to me, so I just had my fingers crossed that the nurse misspoke. It does not take 6 hours to look around with scopes. We had no idea how long the rest of the surgery would take. I was nearly in tears but had promised the surgeon I would be okay up to 12 hours surgery time, and since they didn’t start the surgery until around 11:00 AM, I still had a few hours to go before I could allow myself to crack.

Approximately 8:45 PM


A smiling surgeon came to see us in the waiting room with the final update. Surgery was done. Surgery was a success. The total surgery time was somewhere between 9 and 9.5 hours long. He let us know that all the margins checked during surgery were clear. We still had to wait for some pathology to come back on more of the lymph nodes, but everything checked during surgery was clear. There was even a question on one hepatic lymph node that the cancer may have gotten to it but radiation cleared it up, but it could as easily have been fibrosis, and the dissection and checking of it was clear. He let us know that they took their time with the surgery, because my husband is a bigger guy, and they didn’t want to miss anything. We could go see him as soon as the ICU nurses said it was okay.

Happy Wife Post Surgery!
Happy Wife Post Surgery!

In the ICU, he was barely awake, and you could tell his throat was rough from the breathing tube during surgery. My poor man was so tired! He didn’t sleep well the night before, and despite surgery being so long, it’s not a restful time. I had a feeling he would be sleeping more than they wanted him to do, initially at least. So, his parents and I left for the evening. It was very hard to make myself go home. But, I did. And I slept. And I was back bright and early in the morning.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I was back to see him by 6:15 AM. He still seemed highly groggy and not at all wanting to try and wake up. Couldn’t blame him. It was some pretty major stuff done to his body. So, I sat by until the staff ushered me kindly out at 7:00 AM so they could give report to each other.

Saw the surgeon when I went back in after an hour or so. He talked to both of us, gave us an overview of what the surgery had entailed to Mr. Husband’s insides. Extensive work. I could understand his enthusiasm for becoming a cardio-thoracic surgeon because modern medicine is incredible with what they can do to a human body to keep it going. I was impressed by the description.

Later, he had to come by again to stress the importance of using his incentive spirometer and listening to the nursing staff. My darling can be a most difficult patient. I think he understands the importance, especially following this surgery, of listening. He just wants to do it in his own time. He was, after all, incredibly tired after no sleep prior to surgery then surgery not providing a restful experience. Most of this day was spent asleep, or in various states of partial sleep.

I would have been happier if he wasn’t sleeping so much, but I know him, and understood that if he didn’t sleep, he would never listen, so I didn’t push it.

They moved him from the ICU to a step-down “mini ICU” on the post surgical care floor around 3:00 PM. He was being more wakeful around then, starting to do more of the breathing they asked of him, and keeping any complaints of being moved around so his lungs would work better and he wouldn’t develop sores. Since he was on the floor now, I didn’t go home this night. I must have been exhausted though, because I did sleep, albeit fitfully in the recliner chair.

The only downside was that he stayed in bed rather than get up into a chair. I didn’t let that bother me. He would soon enough. After a long night, he did.

Friday, November 6, 2015


We are post op day 2 as I write this. He was up and down through the night being adjusted in his bed and coughing. The coughing is good, we are just waiting for him to  bring up some mucus from his lungs. The deep breathing exercises will help his lungs get stronger to handle it. I may have slept fitfully, but I did sleep through a lot of the coughing. He got to rely more on the nursing staff for assistance instead of me as he did with the prior j-tube surgery.

6:00 AM he got up! He has been up and sitting and sleeping in the recliner. He wakes himself up at intervals to use a mouth swab for some moisture and to use the incentive spirometer. I won’t post any pictures of his post operative self just yet. I want him to be looking a little more lively. While I have permission to talk about everything, my goal is not to embaress him.

Waiting on his bowels to wake back up and get some gas moving so that was can start a slow trickle on the tube feeding to help give him some energy. I know it’s still a few days out, but I really can’t wait for him to get an okay to try soft foods and liquids by mouth. It is all a waiting game.

We should be seeing his surgeon again around 10:00 AM. Wondering if he’ll have an earth shattering updates, but I doubt it. Truly looking for slow and steady progress. Husband is thinking he’ll be discharged around next Friday, at the 10 day mark. Personally, I think it may be at least Saturday. Most of the patients here that go through this surgery look at about 7 to 10 days for discharge. I honestly just want to make sure he is fully ready to go before we take him home.

What the Future Holds

I will be with him nearly continuously over the next 2 and a half days, through Sunday. Hoping to see some major progress in that time. He and I decided that I will try to work a half day on Monday, if my work will find a spot for me after requesting off. New dryer comes on Tuesday, so that will be my time away from him on Tuesday. If Monday goes well, I will try to work half days the rest of the week until discharge.

Everything is one day at a time, but right now, I don’t think I could be any happier. He is stable and cooperative. My stress level is down. Every day is progress.

Signing off for now. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Not sure if I’ll post again before next week. We shall see!

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