Surgery was Thursday afternoon, 5/31/07 and I'm posting this Saturday morning. I'll try to hit a few highlights while the impressions are fresh in my mind.
For those who may be newer to the board, my treatment choice was Da Vinci robotic surgery at the Ohio State University James Cancer Center. Dr. Vipul Patel was my surgeon of choice, who has now performed over 1700 robotic surgeries.
There have been quite a few posts lately about the robotic surgery experience and I'll simply add that mine went very smoothly and, at every step of this journey, we have been blessed in more ways than we can count. I'm going to add a few things that perhaps others have not experienced.
1. When I went in Wednesday for my pre-op appointment (I live in St. Louis so travelled to Columbus on Tuesday PM, had a pre-op meeting on Weds and surgery on Thurs, discharged from the hospital Friday, follow-up appt is on Monday) (whew, quite a parenthetical comment)...where was I? Ok, I remember.
As I got close to my surgery date I found my emotional roller coaster had higher peaks and lower lows and steeper ascents/descents than in the previous five months. Even up to the last day before surgery I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, "Do I have to do this? Must I do this? Can't I do watchful waiting? I don't want to do this!" Sometimes I felt like there was an electrical storm going on in my brain. At times I found myself almost paralyzed with anxiety. But we have to push on and so it was I found myself in the waiting room for my pre-op appointment on Wednesday morning. I have to say that this clinic runs like a swiss watch. Even though the waiting room was crowded, it was orderly, with an absolutely superb support staff. No confusion, clear communication, friendly and super-competent staff.
In spite of this I still had the electrical storm going on between my ears. And this is where the first of many blessings happened. I started a conversation with another fellow, older patient, wearing a beautiful, unique, northwest coast indian-silver ring. I asked him about it and we started up a conversation. This dear man shared that he was waiting for his chemo treatment, that his PSA had gone from 2.5 to 65 in one year!!! Yes, the cancer had escaped, God bless him. (I pray for him.) But as I said, this was the first of many blessings because it, once and for all, removed every last trace of emotional hesitation and reluctance to move forward, every last bit of internal resistance to this course of treatment. I finally made the leap or turned the corner or whatever and felt complete peace with my decision and that there was no reason to wait and every reason to move forward.
Hey, gotta cut this short but will post again later today about other key learnings on this journey. I'm going to go for a walk now.
Back now, 17 minutes of walking. Good to be back in the room.
Second blessing. Wednesday, when I met with one of the surgical fellows working under Patel I was surprised to learn that they had 100% confidence that they would be able to salvage the external sphincter. Somehow, after seven months of reading and researching I did not know to expect this. I was under the impression that I would be without my external sphincter. What a tremendous relief! I had been under the impression that all of my post-surgical continence would be due to conscious use of my kegel muscles. Hallelujah! Hooray for external sphincters! Next to the prostate itself, surely they are one of the very best inventions in human biology!
Third blessing--my entire surgical team and nursing support staff. I'll say that, in each and every case, these individuals took all of the time I wanted and needed, to answer questions, to guide me, tell me what to expect, care for me. Wow. I gotta give credit to them, because the level of performance they displayed was so far beyond anything I experience in "normal" life that, well, it was just completely unexpected.
Fourth blessing, my Beloved (wife). Guys, we all know this. There is no way to do this by ourselves! Am I right? No words can describe the thousands of thoughtful things she has done for me, before and after my surgery. She has been so far ahead of me that it isn't even funny. She anticipated things, planned for them and has handled stuff that I never would have thought of... Again, wow!
Last blessing is the One Over All, within Whose loving hands all the steps of this journey have taken place. No words can ever be sufficient to express my gratitude to Him.
Oh, here's a detail I haven't read of anyone else sharing--My surgeon has installed this automatic pump, dispensing Bupivacaine, a local anisthetic, to my surgical sites. This is a little automatic pump that I'll wear for four days. It is in a little pouch I wear around my neck and arm. After four days it'll be empty and they'll simply pull the tiny dispensing tubes out of my surgical sites.
Major milestones achieved today, first post-surgical fart, first shower, first shave. Oh, and a good nights sleep.
God bless all,