Too Upbeat for Cancer - Detailing A Rubbish Year And A Bit

Chapter 16, Part 1 - The Mother Of All Surgeries


I was unconscious for 24 hours, but these are the facts as I understood them, weeks after the operation.

The surgeons opened my abdomen and the disease was far more widespread than initially thought. A conversation was had as to whether they should even attempt to operate. Ultimately, based on my age, they decided to try.

An incision was made from the base of my sternum down to my pelvis, and across, to create an inverted cross.

The main bulk of the tumour was removed, weighing 6kg and 60cm in length, analogous to having a large domestic cat lodged in your abdomen. The tumour had adhered to several organs and required delicate attention.

A significant section of my small bowel was removed and an ileostomy was formed on my right side, with sufficient large bowel left to reconnect my bowel ends in the future. My Omentum was removed. My belly button was removed. My Peritoneum was stripped of all visible seeds of disease.

Urology consultants were called in because of damage to my urinary system. My right ureter had a section removed and a stent (a plastic section of piping) put in place. A section of my bladder was removed, along with a section of my prostate. Several lymph nodes were removed for testing to see if the disease had spread any further in my body.

Then Chemotherapy chemicals heated to 42 degrees were passed across my still open abdomen for 45 minutes to try and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

To allow my body to continue to operate a number of lines and tubes were inserted into me. 4 abdovac drains were inserted into my abdomen, three on the left, one on the right. These were long tubes with a plastic bag on the end to drain excess fluids. A central line was inserted into a large vein around my collar bone to allow up to 6 different attachments at a time. In the first instance a button was hooked up to it to allow me to dispense morphine if my pain got too much.

A naso- gastric tube was inserted through my nostril, down my throat and into my stomach. I had three cannulas in my arm. An ileostomy bag was attached to my right side to collect faeces. A catheter was inserted into my penis. A second catheter, a suprapubic catheter, was inserted slightly higher up, directly into my bladder. The urine collection bags were strapped to each leg.

I was 'sewn' up with approximately 50 surgical staples.

The operation lasted a little over 10 hours. In total I lost 2.5 litres of blood that needed transfusing.

I was unconscious for 24 hours. I had the easy part - for those around me it was much more stressful...

Chapter 16, Part II - Mrs Nicky And The Wait »

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