Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pre-Surgery Appointment at Sloan-Kettering

On July 8, 2010 we traveled to Sloan-Kettering for my final appointment before my surgery with Dr. Nash in a week. They did the usual: EKG, chest-xray, blood work; standard stuff.

After we left Sloan-Kettering, I reflected a bit on the journey so far. In the last six months, I've had 16 doctor appointments, two lab work ups, one surgery, and six diagnostic tests: MRI (2/17); CT scan (3/18); endoscopy (4/2); anoscopy (4/28); sigmaoidoscopy (5/20); and colonoscopy (6/25). All of these diagnostic tests came back negative - even, unfortunately, the MRI and CT scans which failed to identify the large carcinoid tumor in my appendix prior to my first surgery.

Also, July 19th will be the fourth time I'll be put under general anesthesia in the last four months; however, it will be the first time that I'll also have epidural anesthesia. This will allow me to control my pain with the push of a little button for a few days following surgery, until I can eat and drink on my own.

After a sterile prep and draping, local anesthetic is placed to numb the area where the Epidural needle will be inserted. The needle for the Epidural passes between the vertebrae of the Spinal column to the Epidural space. Once the position is verified, a very small catheter(tube) is placed via the needle. The needle is then removed and the catheter remains in the Epidural space. The catheter is then taped to the patients back. Local anesthetics and narcotics are given epidurally via this catheter. The procedure usually takes 10 - 25 minutes.

How do I feel about getting an Epidural?

Initially, I was upset. I always thought the procedure sounded scary and painful; but, one thing you learn with cancer is nothing is as bad or as easy as you anticipate. I didn't think I could ever stand a foley catheter, but after minor complications with my first surgery, when I had no choice but to get one, I realized it wasn't that bad.

One of my favorite artists is Kate Bush, and I'm reminded of her lyrics from "Walk Straight Down the Middle" that sum up the reality of anything tough in life, including my next surgery:

But he thought, he was going to die

But he didn't

And she thought, she just couldn't cope

But she did

And we thought it would be so hard

But it wasn't

It wasn't easy, though.


  1. Great lyrics! I can imagine this whole ordeal is pretty scary, but you're handling it with grace. Getting an epidural isn't too bad and I imagine it's a lot better than NOT getting one! What day is the surgery?

  2. Marlena, Been thinking of you. I will be emailing you that prayer for your doctors.
    Lyrics are amazing, as is your strength.

  3. Thanks Mandy and Jean! Surgery is Monday, and I will be updating the blog from the hospital..I am blessed to have such amazing women in my life to draw strength from!

  4. You are on my mind and in my prayers.