Saturday, July 07, 2007

Here's the scoop...

Dave went in for surgery on Monday June 25th, exactly one year from his first surgery. Different hospital and completely different experience. We got there at 5am and then were in his pre-surgery prep area by 6am. A tech came in and started shaving patches on Dave’s head to attach these wacky little electrodes to his head, so that they could do a special “Stealth” MRI that would map his brain. We were then informed that his surgery wasn’t until 2:30pm, not the original 7:30am time we had thought. Dave was less than thrilled. He was already starving and the thought that he was going to have to wait another 8 hours for surgery made him downright crabby. So, I called everyone and told them not to come to the waiting area, because we would be sequestered in this little cube until he went in for surgery. Of course, the moment I was done calling everyone, the nurse came in to say the surgeon had arrived and wanted to reschedule all his patients because he wanted to get Dave in first. We were relieved and happy. I think it’s always best to have surgeries done early in the morning, when the surgeons are still fresh and focused. I’m not sure why the surgeon wanted to do David first, maybe because it was an extremely complex surgery. Who knows. But we were delighted.

David was wheeled out 10 minutes later as I was madly calling everyone to tell them to get back out of bed and that the surgery was back on for the morning. Too crazy. The waiting area was quiet as I was the first to arrive, and I got a “cube” assigned to myself and friends and family since it was turning out to be quite a sizeable group that planned come. We had 5 chairs, a table, a lamp and a telephone. A s everyone started showing up, we ended up pulling another 3 chairs in accommodate our group. It was great having everyone there. It made the time past swiftly, and as they all regaled me with entertaining stories…I was mercifully kept distracted. We actually got 2 calls throughout the surgery. The first time the phone rang, everyone just stopped and just stared. I figured it couldn’t be good…but it ended up being our surgeon’s nurse telling us that they were “in” and it was all going well. Yet, another reason why I love this surgeon. Not only is he really good…but he understands people and how terrifying the whole waiting can be…and I guess this is standard procedure for him to have a nurse call periodically throughout a procedure to keep the family informed as to how it was going. The second call came about and hour or hour and a half later to say that they were done and closing up. Wow. His surgery was an hour and a half shorter than expected, which was a very good sign. The surgeon came down to say it had gone extremely well and that he had removed a large portion. I have yet to find out how much a large portion is, but I hope to ask him next Tuesday when we see him again. He said to go out and get out of the hospital for a while, because David wouldn’t be awake for at least 2 to 3 hours. So, a bunch of us left and went to Cheesecake Factory. Everyone I think was remembering how much weight I lost last time, since I basically stopped eating for a week…and everyone was on the food train making sure I was taking care of myself. So we went there and had a nice lunch and then when we returned, there was a note from David! Knowing David, this shouldn’t have surprised me. He was out of anesthesia and awake 20 minutes after the surgery. He told the recovery nurse to leave this message, “Love you Moonbeam.” It was 3 of the most beautiful words I have ever heard. He was awake and doing well.

He was eventually moved to NICU where he spent an uneventful night sleeping. He ended up taking more pain meds than the first time, but this wasn’t surprising since they actually removed a portion of his brain. By mid-morning the next day he was moved to a wing with other head trauma patients for recovery. So, all of his nurses were specialists as well in dealing with head and spinal trauma. They were amazing and kept diligent watch over David. They were surprised by his continued speedy recovery and we were walking the halls in no time. That night he ended up spiking a very high fever and there was a very real concern that there was something serious going on there…but then 4 hours later it was gone. Poof. On day 3 the surgeon came in to tell him that although he had planned on releasing him on Friday or Saturday, there was no reason to keep him in any longer and he could go now. This was Wednesday. Later that morning, as we waited for all of his discharge paperwork to go through, his Neuro-Oncologist came in to discuss the biopsy. That could have gone better. It could have gone much worse…but it definitely could have gone better. They found traces of inflamed tissue from the radiation last summer, some necrosis from dead cancer cells and they also found GBM tumor cells as well. It was a major blow to us. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too surprising given the kind of tumor David has…but it hit us hard. It was an extremely good thing we went in for the surgery and they removed a sizeable chunk, so many of those cells were scooped out as well. They also removed a larger chunk to remove as many as possible of those invisible tendrils this kind of tumor sends out through the brain, so we can begin a different protocol and beat this thing. Dave is now off the Chemo trial he was on, since Chemo wasn’t doing to trick completely. And we are planning on getting on a new trial shortly. This trial is quite exciting and there are many GBM patients who really want to be on it, but can’t since it is extremely difficult to get into. To be eligible, one has to have had a surgery recently as well as have already gone through chemo and radiation previously. So, one has to be in at least a 2nd or 3rd surgery, but can’t have done any other treatments beyond the standard. We’re very excited and lucky to be part of it. I’ll let you know more about it once I get all the “official” legal documents on the trial.

So, here’s where we’re at. We’re not quite as emotionally debilitated, as we were last summer at this time. But we’ve had some dark moments. Sometimes we wish we could live the life we once had…a life without cancer, fears and heartache. But unfortunately we don’t get that vote. So, we’ll keep moving forward. Keep fighting…keep living, laughing and loving. There are tears…but there are also smiles. There is a long battle ahead of us and we’re two more warriors who have entered the fight. And we’ll keep fighting…because someday they are going to have a cure for this little fucker. And when they do, David will be here and he’ll get the treatments he needs and we will come out of the other side of this mess…

Continue to dream…

~The Warriors


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