Erik MH:

blog entry


original date2017-11-03 19:55 utc
republished2024-06-10 19:55 utc
topicshealth; orig. on PostHope; family
noteThis post was ori­gin­ally pub­lished on Pos­tHope, where it’s still avail­able, along with sev­er­al pub­lic comments.

I really don’t expect to have much more news until after the sur­gery: a CAT scan and a PET scan have shown that the tumor is basic­ally gone (or per­haps com­pletely gone — they can’t say for cer­tain until they’ve seen it in per­son), and that there’s no longer any sign of it in the nearest lymph node, either. That, coupled with my abil­ity now to eat basic­ally any­thing (so long as I don’t eat fast), some sol­id weight gain, and gen­er­al good health mean I’ll be in good shape for the sur­gery when it comes.

The pro­ced­ure itself is a fairly big deal: 7½ hours of robot­ic laparoscopic/​thoracoscopic sur­gery; I’ll end up with twelve or thir­teen incisions and — if all goes well — spend sev­en to ten days recov­er­ing in the hos­pit­al, with all kinds of drains, tubes, cath­et­ers, IVs, and epi­dur­als pok­ing out of me (or into me). I don’t think any of them will be removed until day № 5.…

Graph­ic details at Wiki­pe­dia, although do note that the mor­tal­ity rates they give are old and don’t take the new lap­aro-/thoraco-scop­ic meth­ods into account: they’re now 15110 what they were just a few years ago.

The sur­gery is a good idea, as it more than doubles the five-year sur­viv­al rate for those with eso­pha­geal can­cer — sig­ni­fic­antly improv­ing life expect­ancy even for those who were pre­vi­ously deemed can­cer-free after chemo-assisted radi­ation therapy.

The sur­geon is excel­lent, as I’ve men­tioned; he’s done many hun­dreds of these sur­ger­ies (only about 2,000 are done each year in the U.S.), and has done more than 200 since he switched to doing them robot­ic­ally a couple of years ago.

Once I can drink water without leak­ing, they’ll let me go home from the hos­pit­al. I’ll again be get­ting most of my nutri­tion through the j‑tube until I can eat enough inde­pend­ently — essen­tially a week on liquids, a week on purées, a week on soft solids (that’ll be Christ­mas, prob­ably), &c. Ulti­mately, I should again be able to eat almost any­thing, although I won’t really have much of a stom­ach left and so will need to eat six to eight meals each day. (And what Hob­bit wouldn’t rejoice at that news‽) And I’ll need to sleep at a 30° angle. Oth­er than that, life should start to get pretty nor­mal come Janu­ary, with full recov­ery expec­ted by late February.

So over the next few weeks I’ll be pre­par­ing for the sur­gery, and madly try­ing to fin­ish Map­ping Mordor before my dead­line slips very far away in the rear-view mir­ror. I may not post here again until after the surgery.

The sur­gery itself is sched­uled for the day of 27 Novem­ber (the Monday after Thanks­giv­ing) at Dart­mouth-Hitch­cock Med­ic­al Cen­ter, and I hope to head home some­time the week of 4 Decem­ber. Vis­it­ors are wel­come! While I’m there, Kar­en will stay many nights with friends who live nearby, and Karen’s folks and Camer­on (Clara) will keep the home fires burn­ing in Cabot.

All-in-all it’s a little scary; but I’m healthy, I’m not obese, I don’t smoke, I don’t have dia­betes, and I’m com­par­at­ively young — so the pro­gnos­is is very good.

’Til Decem­ber,

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