Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On the Mend From My Colon Surgery

It had seemed like I was making little by little progress each day following the surgery to remove the colon cancer on May 15. But yesterday I was so bloated that it was hard to breathe even with my ventilator. I could barely talk on the phone with my wife.

Why was my condition so much worse yesterday than the previous day? Was the treatment I was getting here at the rehab hospital doing me more harm than good?

Well, I theorized that maybe I had the night time tidal volume on my ventilator set too high. Maybe it was causing air to go into my stomach as well as my lungs. So I lowered the tidal volume and then lowered it some more until it was as low as I could have it and still have acceptable oxygen levels reading on the monitor.

That change made a great difference. When I woke  up early this morning I was no more bloated than the night before, and I felt rested and refreshed.

Yesterday I was so bloated they put me back on a clear liquid diet. Today, with the bloating significantly down I got to have a lunch of baked fish, mashed potatoes, well cooked cauliflower, and a small cup of canned fruit. It tasted sooo good!

After lunch the therapist helped me get my back brace on. Then she stood by while I with considerable effort transferred from the bed into my wheelchair. It was the first time I'd done that since the surgery two weeks ago today. Praise God.

Building up the strength in my arms to do transfers is important, so I'll continue to work on that for getting in and out of bed and on and off a commode.

I'll also be working to extend the amount of time I can be off the ventilator. For two months I've had to use it 24 hours a day. It will so good when I can be at home with DebbieLynne and not have to use the vent while having meals together. And in time we hope I'll be able to go venturing outside and even into Boston without the ventilator doing my breathing for me.

Thankfully the new ventilator can be strapped to the back of my wheelchair so I could use it when I'm out. But when it's back there I'm not able to turn it on or off. My respiratory therapist is trying to figure out a way it could be turned on or off without reaching the controls.

My physical problems yesterday were distressing. But today things are looking up again. I wanted to share that with you. That's why I'm making this post.

I abundantly thank you for your prayers and for your caring about DebbieLynne and me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Thank You For Your Prayers and Help

On May 15 I was brought from the rehab hospital to Massachusetts General Hospital for my colon cancer surgery. A great many people who care about me and DebbieLynne were praying things would go well.

With my permission the anethesiologist performed an epidural since that would allow them to reduce the amount of sedation I would need.

A breathing tube to my lungs was put in place after I was put to sleep, and later that same day was removed and I was back using my positive pressure ventilator with my mouthpiece strapped on. That was a wonderful answer to prayer because it was thought I might need to use the breathing tube for an extended period.

I was kept in the recovery room for a few days before it was deemed safe to move me to the respiratory intensive care unit. After a few days I was allowed to begin having clear liquids. Then, just 8 days after the operation, I was transported back to the rehab hospital to continue recovery.

Thank you so much for your prayers and help. I'll let you know how rehab goes. My re-sectioned colon is healing. I'll have to restrict my diet to low fiber foods until it can tolerate them. The abdominal swelling will need to reduce more before I can use my newer (tight fitting) back brace, but today I was able to use my old  (loose fitting) back brace on so I could sit more upright in the bed to eat lunch.

 Such amazing progress so soon after the surgery is a wonderful answer to prayer.

Thank you also so much for all those of you  who have helped DebbieLynne with meals and more while I've been away and couldn't be there myself to help her.

And I thank you for helping us financially. Your generosity has provided enough to finish paying off the debt incurred when we had to meet a large deductible to qualify DebbieLynne to be on MassHealth.

DebbieLynne and I are greatly blessed. God has blessed us with so much, including friends like you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things Often Don't Go As We Expect

When I went for my analoscopy we expected that an internal hemorrhoid was the cause of my bleeding. But it turned out to be colon cancer.

When I went in for the colonoscopy to examine the rest of my colon, we expected I'd be home by the end of  the day, and prayed that things would go well. But right after the colonoscopy I had a heart attack and had to be admitted to the hospital.

Following the heart procedures to clear the blockage and put in a stint, we hoped and prayed that I would be able to spend at least a few days at home prior to my colon surgery 6 weeks after the heart was repaired. But I'm still here in the rehab hospital, with just five more days until the operation.

Arrangements had been made for DebbieLynne to come here tomorrow afternoon for a nice visit of a couple of hours. But this morning I learned that the pre-op tests and evaluations can't be done here at the rehab hospital so I'll have to be brought to Mass. General tomorrow which will tie up all afternoon. So there will be no visit with Deb tomorrow!

Once again things have not gone as we hoped and expected. Thankfully the person who was going to bring her here tomorrow for a longer visit will be able to get DebbieLynne here for a shorter visit later this afternoon. So we'll have some time together before Tuesday.

But we have to wonder. Will the operation on Tuesday go as we hope and pray and expect? Please continue to keep us in prayer. Has this time of my being hospitalized since my colonoscopy and heart attack been to help me be physically ready to survive the surgery and recover, or has it been to prepare DebbieLynne to handle life without me by her side?

We hope the surgery will go well and that after some weeks of recovery I'll be able to return home to be with my beloved DebbieLynne. She plans to arrive at the hospital during the latter part of the operation and a Christian friend will stay with her to help support her during that difficult time. Hopefully they'll get to rejoice together by the end of the afternoon if I'm awake and can let them know I'm OK.

Please do keep DebbieLynne in prayer. If I don't survive the surgery, I'll be with Jesus with no more problems of any kind. But DebbieLynne will be hurting badly. I don't want that to happen. I pray that it doesn't happen. I don't expect that it will happen. But things do not always go as we expect. So please continue to pray...and if God doesn't answer our prayers in the way we want and hope and expect He will, please help DebbieLynne however you can whenever you can.

I thank all of you for what you have done and will do for my beloved DebbieLynne. Hopefully I'll be around for a long time to do whatever I can for my sweetheart.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Visit to My Cardiologist and a Gift From Old Friends

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was transported from the rehab hospital to Mass. General Hospital to see my cardiologist. He had another EKG done and looked at the results of recent blood tests, and gave the OK for me to have the colon surgery next Tuesday.

He said he was comfortable with my blood count being 25, but recommended a blood transfusion before the surgery if it goes any lower than that, Normally he'd like the count to around 30, but some studies have indicated that colon cancer may spread more when blood counts are higher.

After the surgery removes the colon cancer the daily bleeding should end and the blood counts should gradually rise back to normal levels. That should help me regain strength and  stamina.

My cardiologist also thinks I'll do OK during the day of fasting and "cleaning out" the day before the operation. My heart is in much better condition than it was when I had the colonoscopy, thanks to the surgery to open the blocked artery and put in a stint.

I'll be intubated during the operation to take care of my breathing while under the affects of the annethesia. Hopefully I'll be able to get  back to using my ventilator by the end of the day.

Please pray that things will go well during preparation for the operation, the surgery itself, and the recovery from  it.

I also want to acknowledge and give thanks for a generous gift from some old friends of my wife. That gift will bring our debt down to $800.

I wrote about that debt in an earlier post. DebbieLynne and I are greatly moved that people have come to our aid at this difficult time and have done so much to lift that burden from us.

Thank you for your prayers and all everyone has done and is doing during this time of our dealing with colon cancer and being apart for so long.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Updates On Two Fronts

First, as we near the date (May 15) of my surgery to remove the section of my colon with the cancer, Deb and I met with the surgeon yesterday.

Unfortunately he said it wouldn't be possible to do the surgery with two small incisions because my polio affected insides down there aren't lined up properly. So he'll have to make a larger incision in the abdomen to remove part of the large colon and sew back together the remaining colon.

There will be the possibility of infection afterwards until things fully heal, but measures will be taken to lessen the likelihood of that happening. But once the cancer is removed the daily bleeding should end. That should eliminate the need for blood transfusions I now get about once a week.

 He said that it is more likely that I'll have a prolonged period of limited pulmonary function. Since my heart attack the day of my colonoscopy I've only been able to be off the ventilator for very short periods. Lately the best I've been able to be without the respirator is about 20 minutes.

During the estimated 3 hours of the colon surgery I'll be under anesthesia and have a tube down to my lungs to breathe for me. The surgeon thinks it may take many weeks for my breathing to recover.

But Deb and I are thinking that with no more bleeding after the cancer is removed I may regain strength more quickly that what the surgeon thinks. And as soon as I'm able to be up in my wheelchair again, I'll be able to have my new vent on the back of my chair and use it on battery power for about 4 hours, or plug it into an electrical outlet when one is available.

Please do keep us in prayer regarding the surgery. Things haven't been going as we've hoped. The "out-patient" colonoscopy session led to the heart attack and heart procedures and this prolonged hospitalization with no time off to be home together. We don't know when I'll be able to return home after the surgery. So, please, keep us in prayer, including that I do get through the operation and recovery.

The other update I want to share with you is in regards to my earlier posting about the debt we'd incurred while paying for disability related needs to qualify DebbieLynne to be on MassHealth when she moved here to Massachusetts to marry me.

Thanks mostly to the help of caring friends, the $3,000 in credit card debt is now down to about $1,200. Thank you for all those who have helped with that. You have blessed us with your prayers and your giving.

I also want to thank all of those who have helped and will help DebbieLynne during this time of my being in the hospital. I wish I was there to do as much as I can for her myself. But until I get back there, I greatly appreciate whatever anybody does to help Deb.

Thank you for your prayers, your gifts, and your helping out in whatever ways you can. May God abundantly bless each of you.