Posted by: Ken Wheatley | December 7, 2009

Life Anew – Surgery, Recovery, and Pathology

The recovery process has been more painful and prolonged than I expected, but not outside of what’s usual. I’m just impatient to get back to “normal.”

I’ve had to sleep on the couch since getting home last Wednesday night due to the catheter. What a major hassle that’s been.

Pain has a way of capturing your complete and undivided attention like few other things in life.  I have six small incisions, mostly an inch long, stretching from one hip to the other. But there’s a three inch one on the right side of my stomach that’s causing all the problems. Which is why I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve struggled to even read for any length of time. Here I thought I’d catch-up on work and pleasure reading, but that hasn’t happened in a week. But I’ve finally turned the corner a bit and here I am writing.

On the day of the surgery I was in the pre-op area around 6am being prepped – blood samples, IVs started, etc. When they first brought in the special surgical gown and socks I was pleasantly surprised to see that the socks were a vibrant purple, the same shade Sheila liked, and the gown was a purplish/lavender. What better clue that she was there to watch over me?! Between Dr. Salem, and being covered in purple, I knew the surgery would be a success.

When they wheeled me into the OR a little after 7:10am, the first thing I saw was the robot. It was smaller than I thought it would be, but I was struck by the number of “arms” it had – five. I didn’t focus too much on it as I wanted to check-out the rest of the room. The only time I had been in ORs before was as a field engineer servicing “C’ Arms, x-ray machines used for hip surgery. So this was a new experience being on “the other side.”

After they moved me to the operating table, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Todd Austin, (a young Doogie Howzer), came around to my left side and said, as he injected something into the IV, “it’s time to get the joy juice started.” That’s the last thing I remember until I sort of woke up in Recovery three hours later.

I stayed in Recovery for almost 4 hours because I was having a bit of trouble coming out of the anesthesia, and the pain was intense. They finally moved me later that afternoon and got the pain under control that night with a combination of morphine and valium.

Because of excessive bleeding in my abdominal cavity they had to put a vacuum drain in my side. Having that slowly pulled out on Wednesday was the worse, short term pain I had experienced. But it passed within a few minutes.

Steve, Joni, Gordon, and Sandra came by and visited over the three days. More often than not I was sleeping, or incoherent – who knows what  I muttered – so Steve spent a lot of quiet time.

And the hospital was really, really strict about visitors. They apparently had 28 cases of H1N1 brought in by visitors, so they understandably greatly limited access.

I got the pathology report on Friday. Looks like they got it all. The lymph nodes came back clean and by all appearances the cancer remained within the prostate “vessel.” So I have no follow-up treatment after I recover from the surgery – no chemo, no radiation. Just blood tests every three months to see if any rogue cancer cells broke off and are lodged elsewhere. Very unlikely, but they have to check.

So hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be more painfree and the “equipment” will be well on its way to recovery.

Thanks again for all the calls and emails.




    Sorry you’re in physical pain and discomfort, but the pathology report sounds like it should ease the emotional part of this.

  2. AMAZING NEWS!!! I’m thrilled that the surgery was such a success and that there is no other treatment plan needed – except follow up work. You are truly blessed. And it’s wonderful that you felt Sheila’s presence so strongly… She’s with you always – you’ll see her and feel her more and more in the most obscure ways. Take care – be patient with yourself during recovery (ha!) and before you know it, you’ll be planning some other mountain to climb.

  3. Ken, I hope that you are on the mend very soon. It’s great that you finally got such good news.

  4. great too hear you are mending although slowly…..take care

  5. hurray!!! good news! i am sooo happy ken.

    so, just maybe, robots are good “friends”

    hope to see you soon!!!!

    you know to call me………….


  6. You definitely deserve a break. I am so happy to hear about the pathology reports! Knowing that will no doubt speed your recovery process too.
    Be well soon!!

  7. GREAT news on the pathology report!! I’m sorry to hear recovery has been so difficult, but very glad to hear you’ve turned the proverbial corner and are writing again! It made me smile hearing about purple. I’m quite sure Sheila was there. What an awesome sign she chose.

    Hope you and “the equipment” are fully recovered soon. 😉

    All the best toward a speedier recovery,

  8. Thanks for the smile you brought to my face about “the equipment,” Stefanie.

    And when time permits, send me an email if you would and let me know how things are progressing with the situation we talked about, ie, what, if any, your decision was.

  9. Thanks Susan. Good to hear from you.

  10. Robots, with skilled hands guiding them, are VERY good friends….

  11. Thanks Tina. Have a great holiday down under…

  12. Thanks Heather. And I’m glad to hear that Allen is doing so well. We’ve all got our fingers and toes crossed that he gets a good scan at the end of the month. Hopefully I’ll see him and Christi at the end of the month.

  13. I can just picture you jumping up and down with that big grin of yours! 🙂 Glad you’re so happy with the news, as I am, of course. It was a big relief.

    And you know me all too well. I actually have the O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists) and Lindblad/National Geographics expedition catalogs sitting on the counter next to me as I research things to do in 2010!

  14. Yes, indeed, Karim. The pain and discomfort are temporary (I hope! :), so I know there’s an end at some point.

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