I'm beginning to feel a lot like one of Dr. Frankenstein's hobbies with all these surgical scars.
I don't know what Dr. Frankenstein's credentials are, but I figure I'm getting enough quality care from my medical team already, so I don't need to see him.
Heeding the advice of friends who are also fighting cancer, I'm taking it easy as I try to get back to work after spending a week at Stanford Medical Center. Dr. Jeffrey Norton removed a large part of my colon that showed some signs of carcinoid cancer.
Dr. Norton took a lot out of me, but the surgery and the recovery are taking even more of a toll.
Possibly the worst time in surgery is the recovery right after the operation. The doctors take you off all the high-grade painkillers and anesthetics to make sure your brain and body are working OK. The nurses in post-op had one simple question, for which I had one simple answer.
Does it hurt much? Hell, yes, it hurts! Someone just spent two hours rearranging my insides then sewing me up like a Thanksgiving turkey. So the answer to your question is "Of course it hurts!"
Naturally, the only thing you can feel is your own pain and all you can hear is the sound of your own screaming. It seems to last an eternity, but it's really just a few minutes before the doctors put you on more painkillers and you fall asleep.
I've got a nice scar on my right shoulder from rotator cuff surgery. I've got a lateral scar over my belly where Dr. Eugene Levin took out a large carcinoid tumor in December.
Dr. Norton looked at those scars and said they weren't so big. That was troubling to hear since he was going to add to the collection. Then again, a big surgery sometimes requires a big scar. So, now I have a eight-inch vertical incision that goes from the top of my abdomen, down around my belly button, to just above my beltline.
Fun stuff, huh? If I ever need another operation, I hope the doctors have enough of a sense of humor to set up a tic-tac-toe board on my stomach.
The recovery process is a tough one. Even though I don't have the energy for a walk, there's only so much time I can spend on the couch before my body starts to rebel. There are a lot of days still when I have no energy. I still have very little appetite, part of the reason I've lost nearly 20 pounds in the past two weeks.
Things are starting to get better, though. What's important to me right now is just trying to get everything back to normal. I need to get back into a routine that will take the focus off the cancer and back to life.