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I got these "bracelets" a week before the surgery. The one with red on it signifies my willingness to get transfusions if need be during the surgery. They also took blood to process to match that blood to me.
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Surgery Set for April 4th and I’m a Little Spooked

The roller-coaster continues

Posted - 3-29-2017

Several weeks ago, I completed 5 weeks of chemo and radiation therapy. While I felt good through most of that period, the final week was surprisingly tough but now a few weeks later I feel nearly normal. Of course, that means it’s time for surgery. The latest meeting with my surgeon ended with April 4th being the date of that surgery. I expected to be in the hospital a day or so before the surgery but apparently, I show up and get whisked away to the operating room, or something like that.

I have to admit that this whole ordeal has me spooked. Throughout my life, I have placed myself in harm’s way, like when at age 17 I volunteered to be an Army helicopter door gunner in Vietnam. I always had a sense of confidence that I would figure a way out when things got scary. One way or another I have avoided the big stuff, so far. This time though the circumstances are very different. I have to place all my confidence in the surgeon, his skills and judgment. Everything I hear about him is positive. My personal doctor told me that if she was having this surgery, this surgeon is who she would want doing it. Incidentally, my personal doctor is the one who more than likely saved my life when she refused to let me whine my way out of getting a scope down my throat to investigate what I considered a minor swallowing issue. It was that test that discovered the stage three cancer just in time.

I won’t act like I understand what is going to happen to me other than I will be losing a bunch of my stomach and esophagus. The ends of those two will be connected roughly where the remaining esophagus ends. For those who understand medical stuff I will be having an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy, cholecystectomy and jejunostomy. (I don’t have a clue if the spellings are right) Plus the removal of various other stuff like my gall bladder, lymph nodes and whatever else needs to go once he is in there.

The surgeon says I might be in the hospital for a week or so and the first day or two in the intensive care unit because “this is a big operation”, something that was a little unsettling to hear from the guy doing the cutting! He told me the operation would take around 5 hours to complete. He also advised me to push for something called an epidural when I meet with the anesthesiologist because the surgery will be “disturbing lots of nerves.” I should have stopped listening to him a little before that.

Another new experience has been making sure that my Living Will is ready to be implemented if I go South in the midst of all this. I have not been kind to my body for the last 60-some years so it would not be a huge surprise if something else decided to give up under the strain. The last thing I want is for me to be ringing up life support bills when that kind of effort makes no sense.

Yesterday we had the pre-op interview where they go over the sequence of events the morning of the surgery. They also drew blood to type and cross match in case I need a transfusion during the surgery. I also got a pair of plastic bracelets, one identifying me as a patient the other signifies my consent for a transfusion.

So, for the time being, you all will have to chat amongst yourselves. I am hoping to take a very long nap and wake up when all this surgery stuff is over with and I’m ready to go home and go flying. I am told that the healing process will take a few to several weeks, longer than I want but so far nobody has been asking me what I want anyway. I thought of trying to refuse the surgery but not getting a tumor removed sounds dumb even to me so I scrapped that plan.

Stay tuned! I will get back to writing updates when I can. I really don’t know how long that might be but am hopeful no more than a week or so after the hospital stay. Until then, go fly something fun!

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