Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A moving experience

"Your colon is about six feet long. I'm going to remove about a foot of it."

I nodded my head.

Huh? What?

"I don't think there's any cancer, but I'm going to treat it as if it's a cancer surgery. Just to be on the safe side."


That was pretty much my introduction to Dr. Steven Muscoreil a few weeks ago during our scheduled consultation at Davidson Surgical Associates. I'd just had a colonoscopy that showed a polyp, about the length of my thumb, that was lying flat and embedded in the colon wall on my right side.

In my simple layman's mind, I figured it would be done laprascopically, not really knowing what laparascopic surgery really was. I thought it would be an outpatient procedure.

"Normally, your hospital stay would be about five or six days," said Dr. Muscoreil, with the words "five or six days" bouncing around in my brain like an endless echo. "But we can have it done at Thomasville, where they offer the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol, which could get you out in about three days if all goes well."

"So," I said, choking on my words. "It's not outpatient?"

"Oh, no," said Dr. Muscoreil, standing next to a poster on the wall mapping the human gastrointestinal tract. "This is major surgery."

Every muscle in my body tightened, especially around my throat. And maybe my sphincter, too. The only other time in my life I'd been in a hospital was when I was born 68 years ago.

"Oh, OK," I gulped as he pointed to the poster and explained where and what the colon did. I didn't hear a word he said. All I could hear was "Major surgery."

Scott, Shelly and the impatient patient
To make a long story short (this blog will probably be long enough as it is anyway), I chose to have the surgery done at the Thomasville Medical Center, specifically for the ERAS protocol. Dr. Muscoreil performed the laparascopic surgery in about three hours Friday morning (which happened to be Friday the 13th). When I came to after the anesthesia wore off, sometime around noon, I reckon, I was greeted by my wife Kim, her brother, Greg and his wife, Pam, and my brother, Scott, and his wife, Shelly, both of whom are nurses and had driven in from Oklahoma for this. More on Scott and Shelly later.
•   •   •
There's not a lot I remember about Friday. But one thing I do recall came during the pre-op preparation. I heard voices from a nearby nurses' station listing that morning's operations, one of which was a hysterectomy. When my nurse, Christy, came into my room, I asked her to make sure I wasn't the one scheduled for a hysterectomy. She about burst a gut (maybe I should rephrase that) and said, "We'd make some history, wouldn't we? Thanks for the laugh."

Weak humor is how I compensate for just about everything.
•   •   •
On Saturday morning, after my liquid breakfast, Scott said it was time for me to walk. This was shortly after Dr. Muscoreil had made his rounds and told me he hoped I'd get out of bed as soon as possible. There's nothing that promotes healing faster than walking.

(Interjection: Decades earlier, when Scott was 4 and I was his babysitter [I'm 11 years older than he], my middle brother, David, and I played a sorry joke on Scott. We told him he was adopted and to prove it, I drew up a bogus birth certificate, complete with swirly looking trim on the edges and with the name "Stanley Lipschitz" on it. It made him cry. And now, all these years later, here he was as my caregiver. Uh-oh).

This is my life now
 Scott told me how to roll out of bed, because the belly pain was somewhat acute. He stood me up. He told me to take a step to the left with my left foot, then a step to my right with my right foot. We did that about 10 times.

Then he had me stand in place and march like a soldier. I did about 10 steps like that. It was all about gaining stability.

I needed it, because when we finally launched forward, I couldn't believe how wobbly I was. But we managed about a 100 baby-step yards. During the course of the day, we increased our laps and distance, and I became more stable. It was amazing.

We'd get back to the room and Shelly, who's gone through her own intestinal challenges, offered advice and suggestions. I couldn't wait to see them each day. I couldn't have been in better hands.
•   •   •
Speaking of being in better hands, I have to say the staff at Thomasville Medical, from the nurses to the CNA's to housekeeping, was phenomenal. They always had time for idle chit chat and small talk, for my weak humor and giving me explanations for whatever med was being administered. Remarkable. So I offer many thanks to Lena, Kellie, Lou, Jesse, Twanda, Whitney, Dominique, Christy and Meredith. And those are just the ones I can remember. Thanks to all. Your care was both professional and personal and I know you put the "enhanced" part in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. Or maybe it was the "recovery" part, I don't know. But thank you. I have not one single complaint.
•   •   •
Scott and Shelly departed for Oklahoma on Sunday, meaning Kim would really have to be the rock she's been through this whole incredible ordeal. Although I've known Shelly for just a handful of days, I gave her a tearful kiss on the cheek and my love.

Then I turned to Scott, embraced him in a big man/bear hug, gave him a weepy kiss on the cheek and thanked him for his care and love and wished them both a safe drive home.

I miss them already.

I wonder when I should tell him his name is really Stanley Wallowitz?

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