Dear Loved Ones,
You probably heard the hallelujah chorus shouting the news from the Huntsman Cancer Institute before even reading the blog that Dennis gets to go to surgery. It was a most singular moment, to say the least. And I want to tell all the details, because the situation warrants it. I just don’t know where to start. If you don’t have time to read it all, fast forward to the end of this message to the part that says how much we love you (although that sentiment will be liberally interspersed throughout).
Yesterday had been greatly anticipated and just as greatly dreaded by the Clot for a long time. Sleep was rather elusive the nights before, but then sleep is highly over-rated anyway. Besides, some of the best matches at the Australian Open are played in the wee hours of the morning. We saw a lot of tennis (and infomercials. I now know every remedy for every ailment known to man, and where to purchase it “for a limited time only”.)
Erin and Dave and the grandkids came over early.
Dennis had had a CT scan on Thursday, but we did not know the results. So many unknowns. And then it was time to leave for our long-awaited appointment with Dr. Mulvihill. It is rather a peculiar feeling to travel to a destination where decisions which determine one’s future will be pronounced. We talked a lot to fill the car. Dennis was quiet, but that’s how he is at his most loquacious.
Dr. Mulvihill came hobbling in with his foot in a walking cast. Did we mention that he had broken his fibula skiing with his sons in Tahoe? As he shook hands with us, we all examined his fingers for any sign of impairment. I think he has become used to strange and unusual behavior from the Clot. But hey, we’re placing Dennis’ pancreas, liver, gall bladder, duodenum, and stomach in those hands. We’ve got a lot vested in those fingers! After he was able to extricate himself from our grasp, he delivered the fantastic news that Dennis would be going to surgery. He waited patiently until the spontaneous cheering subsided, and then began explaining what he saw on the CT scan. Bottom line – Honey, we shrunk the mass! All the pain of radiation and the nausea of chemo, the barfing, the weight loss, the fretting, sweating and swearing paid off. We are going to surgery! Hooray! Game on!
Then, in an effort to further enlighten us as to the procedure, he began to explain just what that surgery entailed. My head began to spin. My main response was, “You’re going to put what where?” “Doesn’t he need those organs?” “Can you actually suture those two little things together?” Again, the “limited knowledge/great imagination” syndrome kicked in, and I had uncontrollable urges to tear off all my clothes and run naked through the hospital yelling “We’re all going to die!” I managed to get a grip on myself just in time to hear Dr. Mulvihill expound on all the worst-case scenarios and what would be the protocol under adverse contingencies. The last thing I heard was a hanka hair and a piece of bone. Then I went deaf and dumb (which for me is not that long a journey) I retreated into my protective mind-set of “therapeutic stupidity.” That’s the point at which I know just enough to be informed, but not enough to lose sphincter control. It’s a rather delicate balance. But in my defense, I am taking a correspondence course for a degree in rocket science, not pancreas surgery. Some things I just don’t need to know. I will let Dr. Mulvihill deal with contingencies. I will deal with staying conscious. (We all have our coping mechanisms). Besides, as I’m teetering on the precipice of a black hole, do I really need to calculate the square footage of a crevasse without parameters?
When the over-view of this marathon procedure was concluded, I asked the good Doctor what we could do to best prepare Dennis for the ordeal. He said there were three things we should focus on: Nutrition, exercise and attitude. Regarding nutrition, we had to reminisce just a little. Remember when food was something we chewed, and it actually came in colors other than liquid gray? Remember when nutrition entered the system through the mouth, and anything in the nostrils was not considered a valid part of the four major food groups? Remember the “art of the swallow,” and that teeth have an anatomical function besides lip retention? Remember the concept of appetite – that biological alarm system that triggers the sensation of hunger? Remember when my food consumption was not predicated on Dennis’ current health status? Remember when putting something “where the sun don’t shine” was figurative? Ah yes, I remember it well.
Dennis is very good at exercise. He pushes his feeding tube hangee thingee as he does laps around the house. He does this wearing his Superman jammies, and it’s a thing to behold. One day when he is especially weak and physically unable to restrain me, I will take a picture and post it. It really is worthy of inspiration and a good laugh! What a man!
Regarding Attitude. Dr. Mulvihill acknowledged our support system, as he nodded to each of us individually. He recognized we were a rather cohesive unit. But I wanted to say, “Hey Dude. You have no idea how much support there is.” We started on this journey across the croc-infested river in a rowboat, and you all have made it an armada. We are not there yet, but we can see the shoreline. There will be quite a multitude unseen in that operating room on Feb. 7. I think Brodi expressed it best last night when she called. She said, “Mom, I’m exhausted with gratitude.” Enough said.
Dr. Mulvihill said that he is “intending to cure.” And then he said the ultimate goal is NED. Translation: No Evidence of Disease. NED spelled backwards is DEN. I regard that as a good omen.
To all of you who have prayed so hard on our behalf, and have stood by to watch and wait, we can never thank you enough. We are exhausted with gratitude.
We love you,