At this time last week, we were in the car on our way home from the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City. They had successfully removed my kidney and, after an overnight stay in a surprisingly quiet and spacious hospital room, I had been released early in the afternoon.
The surgery apparently went according to plan, leaving me with three relatively small incisions that had been neatly stitched back together. Two were about an inch long and the other was a couple inches. The larger one is where the kidney came out.
I also had a "lipoma" removed from my side, which required a much longer incision. It's been stapled back together, with 14 staples running about five inches around the side of my stomach.
Prior to surgery, the physicians (one for each procedure) came into the room where I was being prepped and, using a black marker, initialed the spots on my body where they'd be focusing. This was especially important from my point of view, since I sure wouldn't want them taking out the wrong kidney!
It was very comforting to have a couple of my siblings with us as I was prepped for surgery. Brother Larry made sure to document the process with his cell phone, sending me this montage later on.
The last thing I remember, I was wheeled into the operating room and transferred off the gurney onto the operating table with a huge bank of adjustable lighting overhead. They put the mask over my nose and mouth, and in just two or three breaths, I was totally unconscious.
After a relatively short stay in the recovery room following the surgery, they wheeled me upstairs to my room. I remained pretty groggy through the evening. Laura stayed close, making sure I had what I needed.
The pain medication did its job and we managed to get a bit of sleep, although at one point, I came very close to vomiting after taking what could have been too many pills at once. THAT would not have been pleasant and may have required some surgical repair. Fortunately, it didn't happen.
As I write this, the phone just rang -- the surgeon, Dr. Mirza, calling with the pathology results on the organ and tissue that was removed. It WAS cancerous, which we suspected, but didn't know for sure. But the cancer was completely contained in the kidney that was removed, so I can consider myself "cured."
Have to admit that I've just breathed an involuntary sigh of relief. We expected this would likely be the case, but we couldn't know for sure until the lab completed its analysis.
So my relatively short-lived adventure with cancer is over. Thanks to the emergency room physician who originally spotted the suspicious shadow on the CT scan and the expertise of the surgeon who removed it, I've averted a more long-term relationship.
The recovery from surgery has been going surprisingly well. Everything seems to be healing up and now I just need to refrain from strenuous activity for a few more weeks.
Wouldn't it be great if we could move ahead with the surgery on the cancer that continues to plague our country? We'd feel so much better if we could get on with it, get it behind us and move into recovery!