I’m sorry to leave you all wondering about last month’s surgery! It’s now been exactly four weeks, and that’s an inexcusably long time to keep you in suspense.
tl;dr: I’m fine.
The surgeon had estimated I’d be under for about two hours. It turned out to be somewhat over three, thanks to (1) much more scar tissue than he’d expected, (2) a kink in a part of the colon that had remained in my abdomen that he wanted to fix while he was in there anyway. Everything went fine.
They’d hoped I could leave the next day, and — all previous experiences to the contrary — I did!
I’d expected this to be almost a non-event. Certainly, it was much easier than recuperating from the Big Surgery two years ago. But I spent most of the holidays just sitting in a comfortable chair, wondering when I could take the next dose of ibuprofen. And — because of all the scar tissue that they removed and how banged up everything had gotten in my chest cavity — I had to go on a liquid diet, followed by a puréed diet, followed by a soft-food diet, followed by a you-can’t-have-anything-that-your-teeth-can’t-tear-apart-such-as-spinach-leaves diet. This week, I’m still on a you-can’t-use-a-straw diet, but otherwise I’ve returned to my normal five-small-meals-a-day post-esophagectomy lifestyle.
I’ve learned many things when meeting with the surgeon before and after the surgery and then at a follow-up visit ten days ago:
- The “few inches” of colon in my chest cavity was actually my entire transverse colon.
- In addition to the transverse colon, the entire greater omentum was up there, trying to protect the colon.
- I’d thought that I now have one-third of a stomach; in fact, since the Big Surgery I have had no stomach at all.
- In the Big Surgery two years ago, they disconnected the pancreatic duct from my duodenum, rotated it, and connected it above the pyloric sphincter.
- I’ll be having annual follow-up visits forever
So it turns out that I’m a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster! I don’t mind, though: the somewhat non-standard things that were done during the Big Surgery contribute greatly to my surgeon’s insanely high success rate (that is, the very low morbidity rate of his patients).
Before the recent Little Surgery, I visited my physical therapist at the RehabGYM to let her know what was happening and to arrange for PT sessions in January. Though my surgeon says I’m not allowed to lift, push, or pull anything more than 10 pounds, my physical therapist has been able to keep me busy and active with many exercises that are keeping my core fit without irritating my still-healing diaphragm. This time around I’ll be in much better shape and health, starting immediately. And it’s only four more weeks before that ten-pound restriction is lifted! Yea!
So that’s the news from here. I appreciate all y’all’s support and well-wishes. For those of you who are helping to support my Tolkien-related work via Patreon, I’ve finally also posted a professional update there, including a couple of samples from my Big Project. Next week, I’ll pare that post down a bit (and remove the samples) and publish it for all to see on my blog at Vermont Softworks.
Much love to you all,