Now that it is well behind me, here are my recollections about the surgery, my experiences, how it went, and how it affected me.
Leading up to the surgery, endoscopic biopsy was needed. I was told, it would be arranged the day I left the hospital, to occur that week. The appointment person informed me I would, instead, have a “telephone appointment” with a different gastroenterologist, in a few weeks. Not good. I contacted the first gastroenterologist, expressed how I thought…. then in multiple subsequent communications, repeatedly, apologized. Even though I was the patient, and if there should be any expectation, it is to be treated with diligence, dignity, and respect.
The scheduling dysfunction is a recurring theme in my experience as a patient, and on the other side as a doctor. I wish the health plan would get its act together. Doctor, and other health care provider, egos are another recurring theme. But I am so grateful for the good ones.
The endoscopic biopsy went smoothly. I remembered none of it. Anesthesia is as much like being dead as you can be, without being dead. Eerie. Better than waking up during the procedure.
The biopsy showed GIST.
Surgery was arranged. I got the time off from work. My patients would be told I would be away for 8 weeks or so.
Again, anesthesia was effective. I had no memory after the IV was inserted. Complete blank. A piece of death. Next memory was RN telling me to breathe, in the hospital room after.
The procedure was more extensive than originally planned. It was a procedure called a Billroth II. A large portion of the stomach was removed, and a new opening made connecting the remainder of the stomach to part of the small intestine, further downstream. This was needed due to the large size of the tumor. A slice of liver was also taken. No large lymph nodes or metastatic tumors were seen.
It was hard to find a public domain illustration of a Billroth II. Here it is, In limited detail and in Italian, from wikipedia.
The surgeon had a great bedside manner. Cheerful, respectful, confidant, friendly, professional, exuding competence. He was great.
What followed was day by day recovery in the hospital, for about 5 or 6 days. The nurse got me up to walk within hours. Necessary, difficult. They were very diligent about pain control. I did not want more pain medication than necessary. It caused weird dreams, foggy brain, uncomfortable constipation, unable to urinate. I prefer to use as little as needed to keep pain bearable. Nurses frequently prompted me to take pain medication, and use the pain medication pump. I avoided it as much as I could.
They hospital and staff were respectful and honored my relationship with my partner. They allowed him to sleep in the hospital room. I can’t express what a difference that made. I was worried about that.
When I was sufficiently better, to eat a little, have BM, urinate, they let me go home. Uneventful. Staff was nice and caring. I appreciate them very much.
Glad to be home. Took walks each day. Did not log onto work computer. Brain to fuzzy. But insisted on returning to work several weeks ahead of projected. And that was that.