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/