Break a Leg!

by Sarah

Nancy picked me up Sunday and we chattered all the way to Rochester.  It was great to have dedicated time with her.  We had a wonderful meal at the hotel on the patio and a peaceful evening.  I got some texts and phone calls.  One asked if i was nervous.  No.  I just want it done.  I knew I was in good hands and the rate of deterioration of my leg was concerning.  It needed to be addressed now.

We got to the hospital around 8:15 am and went to pre-pre-op.  They put me on a bed and wheeled me over for more X-rays.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that….gotten wheeled around.  It was kind of spooky and I felt the gravity of the situation.  I couldn’t see the person pushing me.  It felt like I was just floating around hallways with no control over where I went or the rate of speed.

I ended up in pre-pre-op until 12:30.  It was going to be a long day.  I hoped the surgeons and their team were not tuckered out.  I was their second surgery of the day.  When they wheeled me out of pre-pre-op, Nancy said “break a leg!” and then laughed her wicked laugh and I cracked up, too.  I was in pre-op until 1:41 and then moved to a room to receive a nerve block.  Then, on to the operating room.  It was surprisingly big with very high ceilings.  No gallery as some of my friends had wondered.  Probably 8-10 people in there hustling around when they wheeled me in.  They had me climb onto the table.  Deep breaths. My procedure started at 2:46.

I woke up, kind of, in recovery and have a very foggy memory of the surgeon telling me things went well.  I got to my room sometime between 7 and 8 pm.  I had a great nurse who kept things quiet and didn’t mind that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  He checked on me every hour for a few hours and then every two.  I was a complacent patient.

I woke up for good around 3 am.  I felt quite alert.  No pain but I wasn’t moving.  The nerve block was doing it’s job.

Three surgical residents paid me a visit around 7 to check in on me although they wouldn’t give me any information.  They said Dr. Sim likes to do that.  No one gets to steal his thunder.

Dr. Sim and three of his surgeons came in around 8:30, all dressed in very sharp suits, to go over the surgery with me.  It went as expected although they were ready with a backup plan and a shiny new hip ready to put in.  They cleaned out the cancerous lytic lesion as well as possible, insertion of rod through the femur, insertion of cross rod into the ball of the hip and two cross pins just above my knee and then filled with bone cement.  He gave me pictures of them.  Then they were gone.

At some point I realized I had a catheter in.  Surprise!  I was happy not to have to get up, though.  I wasn’t in pain but knew it was going to be very different when I attempted to get out of bed.  I also have the nerve block in my back, an IV in my hand and a pulse ox taped to my finger.  I have never had so many things attached to and coming out of me.  All of this is quite foreign to me.  I’ve never spent the night in a hospital.  I’m very healthy….with the exception of a nasty case of the cancer.

Marty, the physical therapist, came to work with me late morning.  Let’s just say we both got a surprise.  The rest of that story is a whole other post.

Dr. Loprinzi, the medical oncologist, paid me a visit to discuss systemic treatment.  He presented my information to Mayo’s Tumor Board the week before and got some interesting feedback.  We discussed my options and are going to start with two hormone receptor drugs, a follow up PET scan in two months to see how they’re working and go from there.  If the cancer is shrinking, we’ll continue.  If not, we’ll start adding in chemotherapy, probably from the taxane family.  I like this approach.  One thing at a time.  See what works instead of dumping everything into me and not knowing what kind of effect each drug/chemo is having.  I also expect to continue with radiation on my thoracic spine and eventually my leg after it’s healed from the surgery.

PT Marty came back that afternoon and we had a nice, slow walk to the nurses station and back, me with a walker.  I can put full pressure on my leg since it’s as reinforced as it will get but the cut muscles and bones hurt when I try to use them.  I have a long way to go.

One of the surgeons came in after dinner and we talked about me going home on Wednesday.  Unless I completely screw something up, that looks likely.  Riding in a car is going to be interesting.  I’ll be keeping the pain meds close.  I still have to get through PT in the morning and graduate to crutches and prove I can do stairs.  Getting in and out of bed is probably the most painful thing I now do.  I rode my bike 50 miles on Saturday.

This is what my life has become for the time being.

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With the exception of the Activity of the Day:  Dangle!

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