Just call me Dr. Price. I get to post all of the technical stuff, not because I know anything about it, I just try to remember what they say.
Anyway, Louise and I have been talking to every doctor in town trying to find the right surgeon referral for her esophagectomy surgery. We appreciate all of the referrals that we have received and I think we know the top 5 in town who could perform this detailed surgery. We have ended up selecting Dr. Richard Perry who was referred by our GI doctor. We met with him yesterday and were real impressed. We were frank in the interview process that we were looking for the very best surgeon who had done many of these specific surgeries and had a very high success rate. He was honest back to us and told us the names of the very few who had his type of experience. One was a doctor we had received 2 other referrals for. But this doctor, Dr. Perry, spent a lot of time with us and showed us with pictures and props the alternatives to this type of surgery and what the advantages are for what he is going to do. We have prayed for divine inspiration to know the right doctor and both Louise and I felt the Spirit telling us that he was the one.
One thing we did not know was there was only a relatively short window of time after radiation therapy in which this surgery could be the most effective. I guess that after radiation there is maybe a 3 month window before the scarring really starts increasing. This window of time was closing right now and he encouraged us to get this done as soon as possible. His calendar and his 4 or 5 man team of doctors performing the surgery, put us at Monday, January 3rd at 8 am. He anticipates it to be about a 4 or 5 hour operation. It will be done at Banner Good Samaritan in Phoenix. Its one of my favorite hospitals because that is where I entered this world in 1950.
So here is the scoop on the surgery: It is called a transhiatal Esophagectomy (THE). Only about 1/3 of the upper esophagus will remain and only a part of the stomach will remain. Part of the reason for that is because the surgeon wants the margins from the cancer to be big to insure that all the tissue that might have cancer is eliminated. In layman's terms, they will make a vertical opening to the abdomen from the breastbone down to the belly button. They will also make a 2 inch incision in her lower neck (slit her throat). They will then free up her stomach from all attachments, cut the upper half off and slide it up the track where the esophagus once was. They will pull the lower 2/3 of the esophagus out of the neck and cut it off at that point. Then they will attach the stomach to what is left of the esophagus with staples (which are supposed to be much better than suchers). I hope their staple gun works better than mine. The stomach will then kind of serve as the lower esophagus from that point. I forgot to ask what will serve as the stomach from that point. They will then try to put all the plumbing back together. Yikes!
If you are like Louise and me, we were a little overwhelmed by the description of that operation. Double yikes!! They say though that it has been effective for removing cancerous tumors and surrounding lymph nodes. By the way he will be removing all lymph nodes in that particular area. They are certainly trying to eliminate all cancer in the body. This doctor was very encouraging that Louise had already responded so well to the chemo and radiation. He was also encouraged that the one lymph node that was cancerous initially was so close to the tumor and had not spread to other lymph nodes even inches away. He felt like this operation was a very necessary step to her total cure.
This posting is way to long and I have probably lost most of you by now so I won't go into other details about recovery and quality of life. She will probably be in the hospital for 10 days. They need to make sure the new connection heals properly--no leaks and no infections. She will be forced to do a lot of walking in the hospital and once she is released. That will aid in the recovery.
For more details of the surgery and even a doctor explaining everything in more detail, I refer you to a link at: http://surgery.med.umich.edu/thoracic/clinical/what_we_do/esophagectomy_faq.shtml. I see this doesn't link by clicking. Highlight this link, click the arrow that appears and go to "search by google" and it will be the first entry. Or highlight, copy and paste to your browser.
Thank you for your interest and keep those prayers coming. Those of you who would like to shed some of those Christmas pounds, can join with many of us who will be fasting for Louise again on Sunday, January 2ND. All are welcome to join in. The September joint fast by so many of you was a huge success in behalf of Louise.
Thanks for enduring this,