One Week To Go

pancreas-before-and-after-whipple-procedure-surgery-700x400

Shelley called from my surgeon’s office this afternoon. She wanted to check and make sure everything was OK with a week to go. I’m getting antsy. I’d rather sooner than later.

I will spare you the current state of my digestive system. It’s complicated. Shelley got all the details. No surprises.

Over the next few days I’ll see my endocrinologist and cardiologist. These are the final checks before blastoff.

I tried staying away from pages about the Whipple procedure, but it’s tough. There are advantages to knowing or not!

Here’s what I do know. Recovery is difficult. 30-40% of patients have some form of complications.

However, people celebrate their Whipple-versaries. No one I’ve read regrets doing it.

Here’s what will happen:

the gallbladder is removed
the head of the pancreas is removed
a section of the bile duct is removed
a section of the small intestine is removed
a part of the stomach may also be removed

After this is completed, the surgeon must reconstruct what remains:

the stomach, or remaining part thereof, is attached to the small intestine
the tail of the pancreas is attached to the end of the small intestine
the shortened remainder of the bile duct is attached to the small intestine

– Medical University of South Carolina

The tools and instrumentation are much better today, but this is basically the same surgery performed by Dr. Whipple in the 30’s. Mine should take four or five hours, but they can run longer. I will check before we start to make sure no one on the surgical team has an early dinner scheduled.

There will be a lot to heal. I will come to with tubes and cables and a boatload of whatever painkiller they’re offering.

Though I’ll be in the hospital at least a week, they will attempt to get me out-of-bed and walking ASAP. I understand this and am committed in the abstract. Reality is much more difficult.

I’m getting lots of support from my friends and family. Once again my sister and brother-in-law are flying in. My dad wanted to come but he needs too much individual attention. He understands, but is disappointed.

My email has been flooded. Some people I hadn’t heard from in a while popped up. It’s been good to reconnect, though these circumstances suck.

As for my online family and friends, I am blown away. Thanks for your prayers and good thoughts. You are exceptionally kind to me, as you have been for decades. I am humbled by your support.

Finally, I’ve heard from pancreatic cancer survivors and family members. Like I said, no regrets from those who know the price you pay.

Another week to wait. It is scary. I can’t lie.

image courtesy: http://liverandpancreassurgeon.com/

20 Responses to “One Week To Go”

  1. Shellie says:

    Thanks for the explanation of how this procedure works. I am positive that you will do well due to your strong mental attitude and family support.

  2. NancyB says:

    Wow! Hard to believe he was doing this surgery in the 30s!
    that it’s still going on and no doubt perfected over the years is a testament to it’s success.
    Glad you will have family and friends around

  3. I had no idea how complex this procedure would be. I’m with you that I would just want to get it started as soon as possible. It is indeed amazing that this procedure was performed in the 1930’s. As always, wishing you well. Praying for steady surgical hands and a quicker than expected recovery. Sorry that your Dad can’t be there – but the focus does need to be on you. We are all rooting for you in every way possible. Your circle of “friends” is far and wide.

  4. I will be thinking and praying for you. Wishing you a good recovery.

  5. Michele says:

    Geoff, good luck with your surgery. You have a great positive attitude!

  6. Bob Smith says:

    Geoff, we are all rooting for you! Best of luck!

  7. Debbie Z says:

    Knowing what’s going to be done and why makes it easier sometimes. Understanding it, even more so. We’ll all be thinking of you and waiting to hear from you once you’re able to let us know how things are.

  8. Carla B says:

    Dr Whipple appears to have been quite the pioneer for inventing such a procedure so many decades ago. It has elements of the Roux-en-y gastric bypass procedure where Your surgical team is well equipped and well prepared to get the job done of this I am certain. A good attitude and commitment to follow orders and you’ve got this! Best of luck.

  9. Wendy Copperthite says:

    It resembles gastric bypass surgery I had 10 years ago, albeit without the cancer element. If this wasn’t a successful procedure they wouldn’t still be doing it 30 years later. My biggest fear would be ridding of all the cancer. The procedure itself should go well. The sooner you’re up and moving is day 1 to total recovery.

  10. Justine Spadea says:

    Hi Geoff,
    I grew up with you in our household watching you everyday and have followed your career because you are such an amazing and enthusiastic person. Only you could make this most difficult time in your life be so inspiring. You truly are what is called a one of a kind individual. You bring smiles to every life you touch and you are probably helping save others lives as well with your blog. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this journey to better times. Sincere best wishes, Justine S

  11. Koko says:

    Prayers for a successful surgery and slow but healthy recovery.
    God is by your side, never forget that. May he guide the surgeon’s knife to be swift and thorough, and keep you strong for what follows.
    I have not seen you post any after care notes. Do doctors say you have to have radiation or God forbid, chemo?

  12. Scott Thompson says:

    Geoff, you deserve the love you receive! I look forward to reading your new blogs for another twenty years or more. You inspire us!

  13. Steve says:

    Be strong brother, you can do this! As a diabetic, we share that common bond. Although what I went thru was nothing like you are about to, my scare ended up just having my gall bladder removed and having to deal with a liver that will want to quit years down the road. You are an inspiration to a lot of us, and I personally will use up my share of prayers for your speedy and healthy recovery. Make no mistake how your journey has opened up a lot of our eyes and issues with our own health. You are truly a good man, and the fact you share your ups and downs is proof. May god bless you, and keep you safe.

  14. Laurie Blair says:

    I wish we could ALL come out and support you! Know that bunches of people are wishing you well every day. You’re our pal. You got this.

  15. Cindy Turner says:

    Best of luck Geoff. As I told you once before, a friend had the same thing and is fine more than 25 years later. She is a healthy and very active 70+ years old.Our thoughts and prayers are with you , Helaine and Steffi. Keep the faith!!

  16. John Mark says:

    Geoff,

    You are one incredibly brave and amazing Kind of guy. Thanks for sharing all the details of what’s going on with your illness. I will continue to send prayers your way. Next week at this time I should be recovery from my less than one hour procedure to remove a polyp from my bladder for a biopsy. It’s nothing compared to yours. We hope and pray for the best.

    Your decades old friend,

    Johnny

  17. John franklin says:

    Geoff you got this. give Doppler a good scratch for us. You are a true inspiration ct has never been the same since you left. We are all pulling for you.

  18. Jean says:

    Your great positive attitude will help in your “journey”… and we are all sending ongoing prayers to help some more. Hang in there and speedy recovery.

  19. Cindy Gauthier from Brooklyn, Ct says:

    I’m wishing you all the best and am sending you positive thoughts.

  20. Barb B says:

    Geoff,
    I recently went to this website: epi.com –because of a condition I have been experiencing. I read about the site in an add in one of the magazines I was reading in a Dr.’s waiting room. There are video’s of folk like you who have had the Whipple procedure for the same reason as you are. They are all doing well, as I am sure you will do also. As you first made note of—the doc’s have found this early. All healing takes time, but you have a ton of support and our prayers. The pancreatic disorder referred to at this site often comes as a result of the W- procedure. It is called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (www.epi.com)The treatment is simple.

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