September 17, 2013
This surgery was originally scheduled for the following week, 9/24. However, after seeing Carmen’s condition, the surgeon was able to squeeze her in to this day for a 9am surgery. The days leading up to this date were unbearably long as the cramping episodes completely took over her daily life. These tumors had to come out, and fast. The morning of the 17th was not too bad. I was worried that the drive to Cedars would be painful for her, but thankfully she didn’t experience a major episode that morning. A few friends came to join us and to see Carmen off, sending her good will and wishes. By now word had spread for all to pray for her. My mom remarks that God’s ear must’ve been stinging from all the prayers that day. Many had fasted as well in prayer for Carmen. I tried to remain as calm as possible mainly to keep Carmen as calm as possible. There was no sense in both of us hyperventilating over this ordeal.
The surgery was to last about 3-4 hours. Any complications would extend the surgery, so we were praying that there would be none. Thankfully there were none. In fact, I got a call about 90 minutes in that they are pretty much done and were closing her up. After a little over 2 hours, the surgeon comes out and says that the surgery went very well. The tumors had very little adhesion so they were very easy to remove. The only issue was the size of these things. They were so big that the incision had to be vertical and not horizontal like a regular C-section delivery. The initial incision was too small, so they had to keep going up passed her belly button. They used staples to close her up instead of stitches, so it actually looked like a zipper. 30 in all.
I would have to wait another hour before I was able to see her. She first had to wake up, then they had to manage the pain that she would experience. This part took some time so I patiently waited for them to stabilize her. This took longer than expected because Carmen has a very unique physiology that makes her a very cheap date, but painful patient. She is extremely sensitive to alcohol. A few sips of a watered down martini will get her tipsy and feeling good. If there’s any request when ordering a martini, most people would want it strong. Not Carmen. She always asks for less alcohol. However…when it comes to pain medication, her tolerance is off the charts. Meaning, she needs a huge dose of pain medication to get the same effect as a normal person would get from a regular dose. She basically needs horse tranquilizers to get the job done. On the flip side, she gets the full effect of all the side effects like nausea and constipation. So basically she’s getting a double dose of the side effects while getting half of the primary effects of pain control.
I first noticed this phenomenon when she dislocated her shoulder (the 2nd time). The ER doc gave her morphine to dull the pain, because she was in a lot of pain. But her body had other plans for her and decided it didn’t want any of it. The morphine did nothing for her. Seeing how this had such little effect, the doc decided to sedate her instead, then pop the shoulder back in. Well this would become an experience for the doctor. He started with the dose that would normally knock out a person her size. When he had administered that dose, he called her name. Carmen (eyes closed) nods. He then gives her more and calls her name. Carmen nods. He then looks at me as if I was holding something back from him. I just shrug. He keeps going and calls her name. Carmen nods again, eyes still shut. By this time he’s simply amazed that she’s still responding. Finally, she doesn’t respond. I knew then, that I had married a horse.
So after surgery, the post op nurse in charge of her begins to administer the pain killers through an IV. When I finally go in to see her, I cringe after seeing her face. Her eyes are closed and her face is grimacing. I turn to the nurse and ask her why she’s in so much pain. She replies that that face is much better than from an hour ago. She had given Carmen in 15 minutes, what she would normally give a regular person in an hour. So after she was done, she had to go back to the anesthesiologist for more instructions and medications. She was on something much stronger than morphine, yet still in much pain. That was a little hard for me to see.
I quietly called her name and she opened her eyes. Unlike the dislocated shoulder where she had no recollection of the pain, this time she would remember it. So we chatted a little as I went back and forth discussing her condition with the post op nurse. The nurse tells me that I seemed to be therapeutic to her so she asks me to stay. I didn’t know I had that effect on her, but apparently my skills are broader than I thought. So I obliged and stayed. I was probably nagging her about something to keep her mind on me and not the pain.
The result of the surgery was mostly favorable. The surgeon saw the nodules that we knew were there from prior CT scans. However, to her surprise, none of her organs were affected and everything inside looked good. The mere fact that none of her organs were affected was a huge deal. She still has cancer in her, but for now they are manageable. This was a sigh of relief for us.
The next few days were all about pain management and stabilization. The nurses would take her vitals every 2 hours keeping me awake throughout the first night. However, with each subsequent night, I would fall into deeper and deeper sleep when by the 3rd day, I wasn’t getting up or acknowledging anyone until about 8am. Apparently all the nurses and doctors were looking at me sleep wondering why this guys wasn’t getting up. Carmen was a big girl. She was more than able to handle them. Besides, this time there was no new born to care for.
Carmen still has a long way to go but this was a huge step for her. The crazy, off the charts type of pain has all but disappeared. However, the pain from surgery (incision) as well as the internal pain of cutting the tumors out were very intense. She also developed residual pain in her pelvis. The speculation is that since these tumors were sitting on her pelvis for more than 20 months, their sudden vacancy caused a lot of shifting around inside which I think caused pain nerve endings to begin firing. Also due to surgery and pain meds, she was constipated further adding to the onslaught of pain.
All in all, this was a good surgery, something that needed to be done now or later if she ever wanted a full recovery. Since our goal is nothing short of a full recovery, we’re glad those demon twins are finally out.