Anne has come through surgery successfully, and after a few bumps in the road, she seems to be recovering well. The most important news coming out of surgery is that there were no visible tumors in Anne’s peritoneum, ovaries, intestines or anywhere else. We also got some good news from the pathology of the surrounding lymph nodes: only 2 of 39 had cancer. 2 is not as good as none, obviously, but it would have been VERY surprising to have no lymph nodes involved given the extent of the original appendiceal tumor. We haven’t had a chance to talk at length with the doctor about that news, so we don’t know much about the implications, and we’ll share more in a future blog post.
But as to the surgery itself, here’s a timeline of how things have gone, based on our hazy memories and Facebook updates:
Anne went in for surgery on Monday. Immediately after surgery, the surgeon came out to me and Anne’s parents in and told us that it had all gone very smoothly, and that there was no visible evidence of disease. A bit later, Anne’s parents and I got to visit her in recovery before she was taken up to her bed. She was taken to a bed on the GI surgical recovery floor with the expectation that she’d be here for about five days, give or take a few. I spent the night. She had a fair amount of pain and nausea, and slept fitfully, but did get some rest.
On Tuesday morning, it become apparent that things might not be going as smoothly as we’d hoped. Anne began losing lots of blood from her intestines, and her hemoglobin levels dropped throughout the day. In the afternoon, the surgeon ordered a few units of blood for transfusion. When those didn’t bring up her hemoglobin levels, he made the call: Anne would have to go in for a second surgery to repair the anastomosis from the surgery. She was taken down to an operating room near the intensive care unit; during the surgery she was given an additional 6 units of blood. After a few hours, the surgeon came to the waiting room and told me and Beth (Anne’s mom) that they’d discovered some blood oozing at the site of the anastomosis, and that Anne’s entire colon had been filled with blood. The surgeon and his team had re-did the anastomosis with painstaking care over every stitch. In his years of experience, the surgeon said, this is the first time he has had to take a patient back to redo this kind of surgery. Beth spent the night with her in a room in the ICU.
On Wednesday, Anne seemed to be stable, and she was moved from ICU back up to a room on the GI surgical recovery floor. They kept a close eye on her haemoglobin and it stayed stable throughout the day. Yesterday, Thursday, she was able to stand and walk up and down the hall with a walker. Today she’s been able to drink fluids and walk a bit more, and her recovery seems to be on track.
All along we’ve had amazing support. The surgeon and his team were absolutely great, checking in with Anne throughout the day Tuesday and staying that night until well after midnight. The nursing staff have been very attentive and helpful. And our families and friends have prayed and taken care of kids and sent messages and done more than we could have asked. There have been blessings in the middle of all the hard stuff, points of light where we clearly see the Lord’s hand gently guiding us through everything. We’re not sure what comes next – we’ve gotten lots of answers with a few new questions – but we feel like we’ve come to the close of one chapter and the beginning of another, and we’re looking forward to whatever comes next.