Sunday, September 5, 2010

Final Pre-Op Post

I haven't posted anything for awhile because Charlene and I were on vacation.  I took about 10 minutes to post a couple of vacation pix last week, and I thought I'd upload a couple more here.  This is probably going to be my last post for awhile.  Surgery is this Thursday, and I'm so grateful for all your prayers for me.

You've probably heard it said that "minor surgery" is when you're not the one having surgery, and of course, everyone wants "laparoscopic" surgery these days.  Turns out that's not going to be the case for me.  I have two cancers to be removed, one rectal and one in my right kidney.  In my pre-op visit to the urological surgeon last week, I learned that I'm going to have a "fairly large" incision, that the surgery could take up to eight hours and that I'll be in the hospital for five or six days...not what I was expecting.  Now, when a woman gives birth, she's usually sent home the next day, so I'm assuming this will be the equivalent of giving birth five times...maybe not.

Since the urologist wasn't going to see me again until the day of surgery, she pulled out her permanent marker and wrote on the right side of my belly (just to the right of my six-pack...ahem!)  I didn't mind; I certainly want them working on the right kidney!  When I looked at the mark a couple of days later, I noticed it was the letters "A A."  Only later did I realize that it was HER initials, Angela Alman, on my belly!  At that point, I was very glad that I wasn't having forehead surgery by my friend, Bob Stanhope.

On Friday, I went in for a "simple" pre-op procedure to have a semi-permanent IV port installed.  All my meds for the surgery and the chemo treatments in Nov-Dec can now be delivered without any additional needles.  I was anesthetized for the procedure (i.e. "out like a light") and one of the OR nurses recognized me from church.  Just before the lights went out, I looked up at her and asked, "Tell me, will I be able to play the violin after this procedure."

"Well, yes, I guess so, once the wound heals," she replied.

"Great!" I said.  "I've always wanted to be able to play the violin."   (I've been waiting for YEARS to use that line!  Thank you, Henny Youngman.)

So I'm going to be incommunicado for awhile.   I don't dread the actual surgery nearly as much as the time away from family, not being able to work with the choir this fall or attend worship, and not being able to work with my colleagues at Autumn Ridge.  The plan at this point is surgery this week, chemo (but NOT radiation, thankfully) in Oct-Nov, then reconstructive surgery in January.  This is definitely becoming a year to remember.

Okay, enough of that.  Here's some pics from our wonderful vacation in Virginia.  I HIGHLY recommend a visit to my native state, and would happy to share my travel guidebooks.  The Appalachian Mountains or Shenandoah Valley in spring or fall is the place to be!  (Click on a picture for a larger view.  I took 503 pix, but you only get a handful here.)

I actually became fairly proficient at taking self-portraits!