Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Once More into the Breech or how I contemplate yet again major surgery

There was a period, a short period, of about a year and a half when I just figured I was all done with this. There is an old Irish truism, made deeply popular by Woody Allen, about never telling God your plans. 

I don't like hospitals. I don't like surgery. I don't like contemplating either. And yet, here I am in the winter of 2016 doing just that. I wanted sun and heat and instead I am getting the extremely bright lights of an operating theatre and the less then soothing sounds of a hospital ward.  

On Tuesday, the 16th of February I have to check in at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton at 6:00 AM for surgery that will begin at 8:00 AM. My surgeon and the team will excise part of my esophagus and part of my stomach, reshape the whole thing, stitch it back together and, all things being equal, I will be rid of this cancer. 

I spent much of Tuesday listening to Nurses, Anesthesiologists, Physiotherapists explain how it was all going to work and making sure that I understood that for the first seven days post-surgery I would take nothing by mouth...nothing...not a sip of water, not an ice chip...nothing. Everything comes to you through a tube: protein, carbs, vitamins and everything else a body might need. See if you stitch up the inside of the esophagus, you've got to let the stitches heal without getting wet. One concern was whether I'd get bored. I assured them that getting bored isn't something I do. If I can spend a year on my back I can spend a week without putting anything into my mouth. That's week one. 

Then I learn to eat all over again. I figure if I can conquer walking, I can learn to eat. Just have to learn to eat less, in smaller meals, more often. I have to learn that there are foods I probably will never eat again and I have to learn to adjust. Apparently, there was a time when doctors and patients believed that this surgery and the impact it had on eating was the worst possible thing you could do. But I was pleased to discover that someone actually did a study on what people who'd had the surgery really thought and it seems this is not the soul destroying outcome some people believe it might be. Seriously, we are talking surgery to remove a cancer with great could I not do this?

That still leaves my deep set-in-the bone distaste for hospitals and surgery. That still leaves my cellular level objection to anesthetics. It is not a personal thing...I like doctors and nurses and physiotherapists. I literally owe my life to them. But that deep gratitude doesn`t mean I wouldn`t rather restrict my encounters with them to cocktail parties. If I could avoid next Tuesday, avoid it in any real practical sense I would in an instant.

One thing I have learned is that there are real things you need to do in life to survive. Sometimes, a lot of the time, that means doing things your very soul screams out NO against. So on Tuesday, the rock of my life Debi, will drive us to Hamilton and I will check in at 6:00 AM for an operation that is scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM. 

Assuming the hospital WiFi works and the pain levels are manageable, and of course assuming the dietitian has allowed at least one hit of coffee to be mixed in with the food fluid bag, I might even blog about the day come next Wednesday.  



  1. Wishing you a heartfelt "good luck!" Peter!

  2. Peter, you are a marvel. I hope they put more than coffee in your pre-op 'meal' about a double scotch?? It was great running into you today. Of course it would be at the library. Where else?

  3. Hope it goes well Peter...better than you imagine. Will watch for your next post.

  4. Many good wishes to you, Peter, and hugs to Debi!! XO.

  5. I know you hate hospitals and I'm with you. But the surgery sounds like great news. Thinking of you lots.

  6. Thinking of you Peter. Your thoughts, your spirit, your insights, and your experience are powerful and inspiring. Do what you gotta do... I like the French expression - because for me it just seems to sum it all up so much better, with such verve and encouragement: "Courage!" Life. Good luck. Martin Stringer

  7. I will be thinking of you, Peter, knowing it will turn out well.

  8. I will be thinking of you, Peter, knowing it will turn out well.