Last Friday, they wheeled me into the operating room to be met by two assistants and a doctor. My need: get the feeding tube out of my body!
Before they transferred me to the operating table, they looked at the tube. To their amazement it was different than they expected — mine did not have a balloon or hooks. Mine was only 3 suture snips away from skin disengagement and then a gentle pull. Two minutes. No narcotics. No move over to the operating table. I was free to go!
So now I’m a free man! I either survive by what I eat, or I perish. And perishing is not in the cards yet. (fingers crossed) I can eat and drink almost anything as long as I chew it a number of times. I discovered, however, after 10 chews, the flavor dissipates into mush. Since I’m not a sled dog, this detail needs to be managed for the enjoyment of my food.
Removing the tube was the last vestige of my March 14 operation. Now it’s on to continued recovery. I sense my energy is slowly coming back week-by-week. I even made it to church on Sunday . . . finally. I know the recovery track for this operation stretches out to a year, so little steps forward are encouraging.
The other night I woke with the thought: What if I had been the first one to have this operation? What if I was an ‘Operation Pioneer.’
Then when the cancer was discovered, some sharp Surgeon would say to me, “Dave, I think we can get the cancer out IF we take out your esophagus. Would you like to give that a try.”
Since I would be heading quickly to the grave anyway, I would probably say ‘Yes, but what are the implications?‘
The doc would say, “The risks you face are these . . .
- We might cut something in there that would be hard to repair since we’ve never done this before.
- You might lose your voice.
- We don’t know if there will be leakage when we connect your stomach to the remainder of your esophagus.
- We can’t guarantee you will be able to eat. We think so, but we’re not sure. You may have to be on a feeding tube for the rest of your life.
- And if you can eat, we’re not sure what types of food you’ll tolerate.
Fortunately I was not the first one, or the second, or the third. Actually in my case they’ve been doing these for years, improving year-by-year.
So my expectations were very high that I’d come through in good shape, be able to eat, heal, and live a somewhat normal life afterwards. (I’m on that track!)
But I want to take my hat off and salute all those who were the first ones to be operated on for any type of operation! They are truly Operation Pioneers and should be thanked by all of us for their courage and commitment to those of us who came after them. They basically did it for us! And they are still out there today — maybe you’re one of them. Thanks!