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Posted 2020-01-17T22:07:26Z

Well, that was interesting...

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 surgery

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.

The hospital

They’d hoped I could leave the next day, and — all previous experiences to the contrary — I did!

The convalescence

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,

— Erik

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Comments (8)

  • jessica Offir
    jessica Offir

    Omg, the whole transverse colon. Big yikes. Glad you're feeling better!

    3 years ago · Reply
  • barbara grandberg
    barbara grandberg

    i agree with jessica.......yikes!!!!! hope your recovery keeps going smoothly :-} and on a different note.....oy about our sox :-{

    3 years ago · Reply
  • Kathy Talvitie
    Kathy Talvitie

    Thanks so much for the update. Glad to hear that things went well, and ditto on the yikes!!!! Happy to hear that you are already rolling along with a PT program. Sending much love from Pennsylvania

    3 years ago · Reply
  • Mike & Eileen Franch
    Mike & Eileen Franch

    Erik, thank you for these details--better online that in conversation! You're not Frankenstein's monster, you're our miracle baby, albeit a bearded one. Pray continue your recovery, and then, Excelsior! On with your research and writing!

    3 years ago · Reply
  • Rebecca Gould
    Rebecca Gould

    Whoa, I missed the earlier note so just did some catching up. I never knew the colon could Travel to one’s chest. Holy smokes! It seems like you have an excellent medical team (and a truly astonishing ability to stay positive that I’m not sure I could pull off were I in the same situation). And No Cancer is Good. Keep healing and resting (and chewing thoroughly). Sending love from Monkton over the hills to you!

    3 years ago · Reply
  • Chloe Bird
    Chloe Bird

    Congrats on your success in becoming an even more unique you. As I've often told my husband, you are interesting enough already, no need for additional fanfare. That said, it is wonderful to hear that your surgery went well and you are thriving. Here's to getting cleared to lift over 10 pounds next month.

    3 years ago · Reply
  • JB Sweeney
    JB Sweeney

    Thank you for the update, Erik. What an ordeal you've gone through! You're managing it with strength, intelligence, and grace -- and the support of countless friends and a wonderful family. Sending love and wishes for a very quick return to everything that makes you happy

    3 years ago · Reply
  • Susan McElroy-Marcus
    Susan McElroy-Marcus

    Sorry for the delay in posting Eric but I am hoping by now you are significantly further down Recovery Road. I am so happy you have what sounds like wonderful physicians on your team-makes such a difference in these technically challenging surgeries. I love Mike’s term for you above – our bearded miracle baby!😊 Love and blessings!

    3 years ago · Reply