UPDATE: My 2nd Surgery and Recovery

I know it’s been a while since my last update. When I last posted, I was getting ready to go back into hospital to take down my ostomy, i.e., to reconnect my colon. Since January, I’ve recovered from emergency surgery to remove a tumor blocking my colon, and then treated myself for stage 4 colon cancer. The treatment was going so sell that my oncologist suggested I just keep doing it for a while and go in for the second surgery.This from a man dedicated mostly to the use of Chemotherapy. May 9th, I went in for surgery 4 months to the day since my 1st surgery! Now that’s some progress! I checked in at 197 pounds. I was in such good shape that I had played racquetball twice in the previous week. I remember that week. I was properly dreading going in for roughly the same surgery with a similar recovery period of 4-6 weeks. I just HAD to get on the court and FEEL ALIVE! I thank my friend Lee for indulging me with some friendly competition. On May 9th, at 9 am, Nanette and I went to the hospital and check in for my 11 am surgery. It was pretty uneventful. They were expecting me. I got my ID wristband, got out of my clothes and into a hospital gown. Then up on the bed to start the IV and get me comfortable. The anesthesiologist came to visit me and offered me an epidural which I declined. I didn’t think it was smart for have people messing around with needles too close to my spinal nerves. Better safe than sorry.

Pain Scale Graphic

Surgery, Recovery and Pain

There is a strange thing that happens when you go in for surgery. There’s the before surgery time, the surgery, and there’s recovery. It’s like you close your eyes one moment, and then almost immediately open them in recovery. There’s no sense of any time passing. For me, one moment I was very happy and comfortable. Then I was given a little something in my IV to “relax” me, and the next minute I was in absolutely excruciating agony unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. Don’t think for a minute that I’m being dramatic. I actually can’t think of words that adequately describe the despair I felt amid this agony. It was just awful. No wonder they wanted to give me an epidural block! For the rest of that day following the surgery, I just endured the pain between doses of pain killer every 8 minutes. It got so that Nanette set a timer on her phone to remind me to press the red “pain” button every 8 minutes. I did this because god forbid I went some time without pressing it, like if I dozed off. After waking up, the pain comes roaring back and I’d have to play catch up to get the pain killer level back up. It takes 3-4 presses over a half our before I would get relief because of that 8 minute between pushes limit. This went on for 4 miserable days. During this time, they got me up to walk (more like an ambling shuffle) holding on for dear life to my rolling IV bottle holder. I seemed to be slowly getting better during this time. On the 5th day, I got up for my walk and didn’t make it 75 feet from my bed. I could barely stand up. Something was wrong. Turns out that I had an infection rapidly developing under my abdominal my wounds. My surgeon came in for a look. He had to pop open some staples and literally open the incisions to allow the infection to drain. For the next 5 days I drained and received IV antibiotics to help clear it up. I didn’t get out of bed for a couple days, though, because the infection knocked me out pretty badly. By the 8th day, the infection started to get under control and I started walking around again. Things were looking well enough to send me home by the 10th day.

Pay it ForwardPay it Forward

Before I left though, I asked to see the ostomy nurse that was so very helpful to me in January when I first got my ostomy. She showed me how to use the colostomy bags and gave me the confidence I needed to go home and do this for myself. She also gave me a bunch of supplies to get started which turned out to be over 2 months of supplies. I had no idea how generous this was of her, though, until I went to order supplies. I needed to return this favor. I found out how generous she had been to men when I ordered 3 months of ostomy supplies in April right before finding out that I was to go back and have the ostomy taken down (reconnected). I had a big box of stuff for her that cost about a thousand dollars. It was already purchased and paid for before I knew I was not going to need most of it! I told you she was generous to me. Got to pay it forward!

Going home

When I got home, my mom came to visit during the first week. This is a week when it hurts to do pretty much anything. I was so doped up, though that I’m afraid I was not much of a conversationalist. Mom was great, though, and just kept me company which was about all I was up for. This was also much different than my first hospital visit in January. In January, I was given dire news and everyone was upset. Mom was extremely troubled back then. But after 4 months of healing to the point of being told to return to the hospital and take down the ostomy because I was so strong, it was cause for celebration rather than concern. Mom was as relieved as I was. And let me tell you something, never underestimate the value of a properly working pooper! The second week, Nanette was home for 10 days. Nanette took really great care of me and I cannot thank or love her enough for doing so. She was as patient and loving as could be. I really don’t know how I could go through this without her. After that, It was just me and I pretty much focused on relaxing and healing. Somewhere during this time, around the beginning of June, I got off any medications or pain killers and my head started clearing up. It also took about as long for my intestinal tract to get back in shape, due to all the antibiotics, so I could get back on my mostly raw veggie diet. It’s hard to digest raw food without the proper intestinal bacteria to do the work!

Today was an eventful day

During this entire recovery period, I have required daily home nursing visits to tend to the two holes I had in my abdomen up until today! One has just closed up as of today on the main incision. The other is the hole from the ostomy which was as big and deep as your index finger! To be expected, I suppose, considering that this was the hole through which they put my descending colon. Combined with all the nasty intestinal bacteria it was exposed to, this hole’s been tougher to heal. Every day they came and cleaned and packed the holes so they would heal from the inside out. Today was the first day that I was able to pack this wound myself with gauze. You have to do that with deep holes. You have to help them heal from the inside out. If you just sewed them closed, the hole would fill up with infection and you could become septic and die. This is what happened to King Henry VIII with his every rotting leg wound. None of that for me, thank you As of today, I can finally take care of this remaining much smaller and manageable hole myself. It’s about the size of a nickel and a centimeter deep, but it’s now healing rapidly. It will probably be gone within the next two to three weeks.

Gratitude

I’m so very thankful to the nurses that visited and cared for me over these past few weeks. There’s no way I could have done it myself. Also, thanks to all the folks at Wake Med in Cary. All the staff was so very genial, friendly and professional. I always felt like I was in good hands. Another thanks goes to the surgeon who saved my life in January, and gave me back a normal functioning colon in May, Dr. Michael Malik in Cary, NC. He’s really excellent in every way as a physician and healer. Thanks also to my oncologist for suggesting I get reconnected in the first place. He’s really been quite supportive of my “complimentary” therapy. He’s done a great job of monitoring my progress and advising me on how I’m doing and interpreting the numbers for me.

What’s next?

First, continue healing up the last of my ostomy wound. That should be done by the end of June. Exercise to get my abdomen back in healthy working order. Lots of walking to get back my my leg strength and endurance. Cancer therapy wise, I’m continuing with the modified Budwig protocol a la Bill Henderson. To that, I’m adding some pretty strong liver cleansing using coffee enemas. I know that may sound strange, but it’s a time tested treatment that used to be in the physicians treatment books until they took it out in the 70’s. (That’s another blog post) I made a deal with my oncologist that for the next six weeks, I will be doubling down on my therapy and focusing on my liver to reduce the tumors. After six weeks, we’ll do another MRI of the liver and see what we see. I also know that I need to start thinking about the future. That’s been difficult. I think that’s yet another blog post. I’ll end this update by saying thank you to you, my readers and loyal friends and family for all the unconditional love and support you’ve given me when I’ve needed it most. Nanette and I literally could not have made it without you. It’s my mission in life to somehow pay that forward in whatever way I can.