I described here what the plan of attack for my surgery would be once it was determined that the thing the dentist and the civilian lab discovered was indeed something to be gotten rid of. Here’s how it all transpired yesterday.
I got to the hospital at 9:15AM Monday morning and finally about 12:15PM I was told to suit up in that breezy backless gown hospitals give you. Tripler also gives its patients front-closing robes, fortunately. About half-an-hour later they took me down to the OR (I had to walk down the halls! They offered me no gurney on the way in.) and then sat me on a gurney and covered me in a nice warm blanket. The anesthesiologist came in and started hooking me up to a saline IV while Dr. Kolb, the thirty-something surgeon, came up and began explaining what she and her team planned to do. She told me the initial results from the CAT scan last week showed no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes, but further examination would need to be done. Thus there was no plan to excise them yesterday, just the tumor on the floor of the mouth. They still thought there might be a need for a skin graft to cover the hole they’d make.
I nodded agreement, the anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask over my face, and into dreamland I went. That was about 1:00PM. I got out and was admitted to the surgical ward around 4:00PM. My sister got there within minutes, and we talked until the surgeons appeared about 6:30PM. They told me that they had taken out the tumor and sent it to the lab mid-procedure. The lab said it had found some cells at the edges of the tissue the surgeons sent up, so they sliced off some more at the margins where the lab told them those cells were and sent that result to the lab. This time the lab said “fine” and the surgeons closed me up and sent me upstairs. They decided I should stay overnight just to monitor vital signs and administer some steroids via drip, so that’s what happened.
My sister went back to our place and stayed overnight with Mom (Mom needs her coffee and breakfast toast with orange slices!). I watched my regular schedule of TV shows (each bed in the four-bed room has a flat-screen TV with analog channel service, so I could watch the news, the News Hour, and the Dust Bowl special by Ken Burns on PBS). Unfortunately, one of my roommates wanted to watch TV until about 1:00AM, which annoyed me since I was tired and ready to sleep about 11:30PM. Even when he was given headphones he kept forgetting to plug them in, so I was subjected to the audio from across the room. Then around about 3:00AM a new patient was admitted to the bed next to me, which woke me up. About 4:00AM another steroid drip was done, so around 4:30AM I finally managed to get to sleep for real.
I was awakened at 7:00AM this morning by Drs. Kolb, Tran and Hansen doing their rounds. They explained what they had done more thoroughly than they had Monday evening. They did not do a skin graft, although I discovered when I got into the shower after I got home that they had shaved the front of my upper left thigh in preparation for it. They told me that when I come back next Tuesday they should have the final lab results of both the tissue exam and the CAT Scan/Radiology exam, but they felt they’d gotten it all. If not, Dr. Kolb said, we’ll go back and do more surgery. I didn’t ask whether there was a risk of drilling all the way through; I don’t think I wanna know that yet.
So, next Tuesday afternoon I’ll have more answers, but meanwhile the docs feel pretty confident. I have to say I’m amused by them. They look at the physical results of the surgical procedure and tend to be very admiring of their handiwork. Since I can’t actually see it, I’m taking them at their word. They’ve got me on liquid Tylenol (once again with the bubble-gum flavored stuff) and liquid oxycodone. Tonight is supposed to be puréed food and then tomorrow I can graduate to soft (they gave me breakfast today and the coffee and OJ were fine, as was the little cup of puréed pears; the powdered scrambled eggs were awful). Thursday I’d better be able to eat turkey!
More to come in a week. Thanks for all the good wishes!