Monday, February 17, 2014

Post-Op Day 6 - Finally Home

After what felt like forever, but in actual fact was just a few days, Mark was sprung from the hospital.  The following update was sent out to our family and friends today.  We're really really really happy that he's home!

Hello everyone,

Apologies for the lack of an update over the weekend.  Mark did get home.  It was a bit like pulling teeth, dealing with all of the red-tape at the hospital, trying to get signatures and whatnot on the weekend, on a long weekend no less, to get him out the door.  Once we got out though, I thought he was going to cry from the fresh air.  It's so darned hot on the floor.  I understand to a certain degree that they need to keep things warm for the patients but everyone was complaining about it, it was a bit too much.

Mark's much more comfortable being home, and of course, is so happy to be back with the dogs.  He missed them terribly, particularly Gracie.  She's been shadowing him ever since he walked through the door.

We can tell already that the recovery from this stay in the hospital is going to be different from the last time.  Physically, he's feeling pretty beaten up.  I blame those horrible beds.  They aren't made for anyone who is taller than 5'10" so he has blisters on his feet from where they rubbed on the headboard. We both need to stop comparing where he is now to where he was on Day 6 from the colon cancer surgery.  Earlier today we were discussing how, on a scale of 1 to 10, the colon cancer surgery was about a 3 and this liver operation is probably a 7.  He's got a massive incision with 24 staples.  The actual incision is looking good but he's got to be very careful whenever he is moving, getting up and down, etc. I don't think he'll be jumping around or going too far unaccompanied for a while yet.

As luck would have it, I woke up yesterday with the beginnings of the mother of all head colds.  I suppose it was unavoidable, given the pace of the past week or two and everything else.  Hoping to be able to sleep tonight.  Did not get much sleep last night.  It's funny how breathing makes sleeping so much easier huh??

So that's it for now.  Not sure when he'll be up for phone calls but I think he's back on his email as of today.  Thanks again, everyone, for your support over the past week.  We still have a long road to go but I think the worst part of it is over.

Much love,

 Peggy & Mark

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 3 Post-Op

He's hanging in there, taking one day at a time.  Hospital's are really no fun, at all, but we're trying to make the best of it.  Here's another update, which was sent out to friends and family earlier this evening.

Hello everyone,

Thought I'd take a moment and give you all a little progress report on Mark.

Today is day 3, post-op, and they turned off the morphine on his epidural at 8:30 a.m.. He's starting to experience some pain around the incision area but it does seem to be healing very well.  This afternoon, they started him on oral pain relief and that's what he'll have when he gets home.  Right now, the focus is on how his blood is clotting.  They want to be sure that he's clotting well enough for the epidural to be removed (there is some concern that if it pierced a blood vessel, he may have some bleeding in his back when it's removed and everyone would like to avoid that).

We're not running laps around the floor like during his last surgery.  I think yesterday, he probably overdid it a bit and the reality is, this was a much bigger operation than the colon cancer op.  He is moving well, getting up and down unassisted and, thankfully, is sleeping well.  Of course, hospital beds are notoriously uncomfortable and the temperature on the floor is absolutely tropical so he's very keen to get home.

I guess that's really it for now.  Slowly, slowly but at least in the right direction.   Thanks again, sincerely, for all of the love and good wishes you've been sending our way.  It's meant a lot to both of us.

lots and lots of love,

 Peggy and Mark

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday Update - movin' on up!

A room with a view!
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Day two went really well. Everything seems to be going better than anticipated. I don't know if we had low expectations going in so any progress seems amazing but we're super happy about stuff so far.

Again, here is the update I have sent out to our friends and family tonight:

Good evening everyone,

Just wanted to send you all another quick update on Mark. He's doing so great today.

When I got down to the hospital today, his nurse in the step down unit told us that he would be moving up (yeah, we're moving on up...) to a regular room. One of the surgeon's residents was in to see Mark in the morning and he was doing better than they expected. His labs were all great and when I arrived, he was sitting up in a chair. He'd been able to get some water to drink too which was a massive help.

The stepdown unit had been a bit of a three-ring circus last night apparently so he didn't get any sleep at all. There was one guy in there who seemed pretty out of it and he hollered out loud the entire time I was there. Apparently, this went on all of last night too. When my mum and I were there last night, he was throwing up and this morning, when I was there, he was eating a chocolate bar someone had given him and he was throwing that up too!! Mark heard him on the phone trying to get someone to bring McDonald's into him. Dude, you're in step down. You've obviously got some serious crap going on with you, shut up and put the junk food away!! You'll barf less and possibly get out of there quicker.

Late this afternoon, Mark was moved into his new room. It's really nice. He's close to the nurses station and it's a semi-private room. His roomie is an elderly gentleman who is very quiet. At least he was quiet this afternoon. I don't think though that he is used to having a roommate because took a pants-less stroll around the room while I was there. We just pretended not to notice and looked away, talking loudly about something silly. It was pretty difficult not to laugh out loud.

Speaking of that, I think Mark owes Moe Berg about $1.75 by now. Everytime he laughs, he has to press his incision area with a pillow and he says, "it's hard to laugh." We figure at 25 cents per "hard to laugh" we may have to send Moe upwards of $5 by the time Mark comes home.

Tomorrow, we plan to spend the day walking the floor. There were a couple of ladies up doing laps before I left and he's itching to get up and walking to kick their butts at the winter olympics version of who can do the most laps on the 6th floor!

Thanks again for all the wonderful messages and calls, you all ROCK!!!

Much much love,

Peggy and Mark

Surgery Day Update - with 40% More Liver than Originally Advertised

So the surgery happened as scheduled yesterday. The days and weeks leading upto it were stressful for both of us, in different ways. By this past weekend, I was a bit of a basket case. I was totally fine until someone would ask me how I was. Once asked, I'd fall apart. Charming.

Here is the update we sent out to anxious friends and family last night. So far, everything is going very well.

Hello again everyone,

Thanks so much to everyone for the tweets, FB messages, emails, txts and phone calls. It really meant a lot to us to have so much support from you today.

As many of you already know, Mark did have his surgery this morning. We were told to be down there for 6 a.m. He actually told me that he had a good sleep last night, me, I slept in 20 minutes blocks all night. By 7:30 a.m. we had seen both his surgeon, and his anesthesiologist (the one he requested, who was with him for his last 2 surgeries). We found out that the operation would take between 7 and 8 hours. This was a bit of a shock to both of us as we had thought it would be 4 to 6 hours. Until 8 a.m. rolled around and the nurse came to get Mark, I was holding my breath. I was really afraid that we could get cancelled.

My mum very kindly hung out with me at KGH all day. While we were there, waiting, we were able to visit an old family friend who is having an extended stay. It was nice to see him and have the distraction of thinking about someone else’s situation for a little while. We wandered around a bit, had lunch and leisurely made our way back to the waiting area, thinking we had at least 4 hours before we’d see anyone with an update. 10 minutes after we arrived in the waiting room (around 3 p.m. or so), Mark’s surgeon came into the room, wearing street clothes and a big smile on his face.

Mark’s op went really well. When they got in there, they discovered that the tumours (yes, he had 2 more small tumours develop since the December 16 MRI) were all in an area which allowed them to remove a “wedge” of liver instead of the large segment they had planned to remove. Because they were removing such a smaller piece, the risk in the short term of him having difficulty getting his liver function back to normal is decreased significantly. I asked the doctor for the percentage of liver removed (explaining to him that Mark was a “math guy” and would want to know) – he told me 20% was removed. Now, the recovery and everything else will still be the same but the overall result is much better. I asked about the chances of there being other tumours in the liver and the doc told me that they felt around the liver, and did an ultrasound and that any additional growths would be on a cellular level at this point. When I asked him if chemo would help to lessen that risk he told me yes and that Mark would probably do chemo in 2 months. Because Mark has never had chemo before, his prognosis is very good. I felt incredibly relieved to hear this.

Two hours later I was able to see Mark in the recovery room. He had a lot of equipment hooked up to him but was not uncomfortable. Recently he was diagnosed with some tendonitis in his shoulder and that was giving him grief (probably because of all of the snow shovelling he’s been doing recently!) but otherwise all was well. About 90 minutes later, he was moved to a monitored room. He’ll probably be there for 2 or 3 days which is good.

When I saw him in his room, he was wanting to sit up and drink some water. He was hot and uncomfortable. I figure that this is all a good sign. If you can complain, it can’t be all that bad, right? The nurses won’t be taking any crap off of him and I told him to do what he was told. By now, I’m hoping he’s asleep.

I’m hoping too that I’ll get some sleep tonight. It’s good to be home after such a long day and the dogs seemed happy to see me although I could tell that they were wondering where Mark was.

Over the next few days, I’ll continue to provide updates about how he’s progressing. He doesn’t have any devices with him yet (although I’ll be taking his phone to him tomorrow) but I know he’d like to hear from you if you’d like to drop him a line (or send it to me and I’ll make sure he gets it). I'm sure that there is lots I've forgotten about today but I think I've got all the big pieces. I'm a little brain dead at the moment!

Thanks again, everyone, for all of your good thoughts and lovely messages. It was an enormous help to us today!!

much love,

Peggy and Mark