It has been ten days since surgery. I am slowly recovering strength and beginning to move in familiar ways.
Surgery to implant the Hepatic Arterial Infusion Pump was completed on Tuesday, November 12th. I severely underestimated the significance of the surgery. Dr. Roses assured me that he told me it would be “a significant surgery.” I guess there is a difference between hearing those words and living through it.
I planned to come home on Friday after surgery. Those in positions of authority were convinced I needed to stick around until Sunday morning.
THE PUMPThe pump was successfully installed. On Friday, after surgery, we tested it. Testing the pump involved accessing it via needle and injecting a radioactive tracer and then taking some pictures. The goal was for my liver to “light up like a Christmas tree.” If that happened and nowhere else lit up, the pump would be working correctly. The picture shows my liver “lit up like a Christmas tree” with no radioactive tracer leaking to other organs. Success! The very bright section in my lower liver is the metastasis that we are going after.
My time in the hospital was surprisingly very peaceful. I spent most of my days sleeping or walking in the halls. Before we went to the hospital I told Nancy, “there was no need for her to stay with me, I would be well cared for.” It turns out I desperately wanted her there with me. She was an amazing comfort and help. Nancy stayed every night I was there, and it was reassuring to wake up at all hours and know that she was with me. I cannot express how blessed I am to have her walking this journey with me.
The nurses and other staff who cared for me were truly amazing. Some I saw for only one night or day shift, others became regular fixtures in my life. I began to pass along copies of my book, The Journey Continues, as a way of thanking them for the part they were playing in my journey. I am continually humbled by how the simple act of sharing our stories can bring people closer in a very short period of time.
I would wake up each morning around two am. Early in the morning was a good time to get up and go for a walk through the empty halls. One such morning I started my rounds, and God helped me shift focus. Up till that moment I had been very self-focused. I was concerned about my pain, when I was getting out of the hospital, my recovery. As I walked the silent halls, I began to hear other sounds. The beeps and whirs of machines delivering medicine to other patients. I recognized the low grunts and groans as people tried to remain comfortable and sleep through the night. The conversations between nurses and staff as they discussed how best to care for patients. Slowly my focus shifted from myself to the rooms around me.
Walking the halls, I began to pray. Pray for the patients that they would know healing and comfort. I offered prayers for the families represented by each room, that they would know peace and strength. Walking past nurses and staff, I offered prayers for wisdom, discernment, and blessing.
Walking and praying, I lost sense of time. Before I knew it I had walked further than any previous time leaving the room. Safely back in bed I reflected on my prayer walk. Could it be that the strength to walk further came not from within but from the fact that I took my eyes off of myself and looked at others?
A PARTING GIFT
I was prepared to come home on Saturday. I had hit all the magic metrics laid out by the doctors and nurses. Everything ranging from being able to put on my socks, brush my teeth, to proper bowel function. My doctors wanted me to stay one more night just to be sure I was okay.
Two am Sunday morning, I got a new roommate. At Four am, my nurse woke me up and asked me to come into the hallway. “Your new roommate has a respiratory infection; we are going to move you to a new room.” With that I was ushered off to a new room.
Sunday afternoon, I began to cough. Tuesday I was in with my primary care doctor. Every time I coughed it felt like the stitches were coming loose. I am much better now. During my worst coughing fits, I will confess that I did reflect upon some of the scenes from Aliens. There were moments if felt like I was going to “give birth” to my pump.
There will be a de-brief about the need for “one more night” the next time I see my doctors.
PRAYERS FOR BEN
Can I ask you all to be praying for Ben? Ben is a two-year-old boy who is part of JAM Christian Daycare. Ben was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. Here is a note from his mom.
Today, we found out that Benjamin has B-Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We are in a state of shock and devastation, but our team of doctors are angels sent from Heaven. We have learned a lot from them, and even though it’s overwhelming, we have a plan that starts tomorrow. We are told that the cure rate is 80-90%. Please pray for Benny as he begins his first procedure and his first day of chemotherapy tomorrow.
I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers you have sent in my direction. Would you be willing to add Ben and his family to your prayer lists?
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good!