Mar 3, 2006

Surgery Update

Well, it was a long day. We are all exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. It started at 4:30 a.m. for Roger and I. We got to the hospital at 6:00 a.m. After check in and pre-op, they rolled him away a little after 8:00 a.m.

The first incision was at 9:24 a.m. We received our second update at 11:26 a.m. that the surgery was going well, they sent a specimen to pathology for the frozen section and that it would be a few more hours.

We didn’t get our next update until 3:35 p.m. and that was hard on us. This time, the neurosurgeons themselves came to the waiting room, so we knew the surgery was over. We went to a separate room and discussed the surgery and results in private.

Here’s an abbreviated version of those notes:
A vein was in the way of the tumor which was sacrificed in order to retract the tumor. Concern about blood collecting in his brain was lessened due to a cat scan after the surgery which showed no serious collection of blood. The vein should either heal itself or the blood will drain from other veins. This is a blessing due to the number of blood vessels in the area and the risk those posed. A large artery near the tumor was of concern due to possibility of damaging it and causing stroke. We thank the Lord that it was a vein and not an artery.
Only a portion of the tumor was removed due to a higher risk of permanent damage to his motor core. An MRI was scheduled for late tonight to identify the size of the remaining tumor.
The frozen section of the tumor revealed possibly an intermediate to high grade glioma tumor. Of course, the pathology results will not be available for two weeks, so this diagnosis may change. The biopsies will be analyzed at two pathology labs, Bethesda and AFIP, for confirmation.
A motor strength test was performed at the end of the surgery to evaluate the effects and/or possible damage from the surgery. At first Roger was not able to move or feel his right arm, torso, leg and foot. Upon our first visit in ICU, he was able to move the fingers on his right hand and feel touch in his right thigh. Later in ICU, he was able to lift his right arm, do more with his fingers and feel touch in his foot. This means that the weakness is only temporary and will improve with time, rest and rehabilitation.

Roger is very happy the surgery is over. His spirits were up in ICU, joking with the staff and us in his normal manner, although being extremely exhausted. He looked good to us which lifted our spirits and gave us renewed energy and relief. His mouth was very dry initially, but with hydration he was able to talk to us fine, but you could hear the exhaustion in his voice. He began to have a little pain and requested medication which made him drowsy. We all got to see him several times, adjust things for him, help him drink until he could get all the tubes situated to do it himself and talk with him.

We left him for a short time for a free meal in the executive dining facility which the hospital offers to families every Friday night. This was a real treat for us and we enjoyed it greatly. The timing was perfect as we were all famished and the sailors who volunteer to serve were uplifting and supportive. We returned to the ICU to say our goodbyes until Saturday.

My expectations of this military hospital experience were shot out of the water. The staff were excellent, professional and so caring. They made our experience comfortable and secure. I believe God sent us to the right place.

While Roger is in the ICU, he would like a limited amount of visitors due to ICU rules, space restrictions and his need for rest to heal properly. As soon as he is ready for visitors and/or is moved into the general ward, I will inform you via this blog. He is looking forward to visitors after that time. At this point we are not aware of when he will be moved. It depends on how he heals and his doctor’s recommendations.

We would not have made it through the day without your prayers, love, support, encouragement and the grace and mercy of the Lord. We had moments that seemed unbearable, but through prayer and petition, He got us through it. Our God is good. We saw His work all day in that hospital. We praise the Lord for his presence with us and in the operating room.

Please keep checking the blog for updates. I will try to include a couple pictures from the day, if I can figure it out or if I don’t fall asleep at this computer first. I would like to add that Roger made me take a picture of him in the ICU because he wanted to see what he looked like. Thank you again. We love you all. Praise the Lord!

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