Friday, March 27, 2009

Home (again)

Karen's doing well. She was discharged today and is home from hospital. She has a drain in ( a needle attached to a tube attached to a bag attached to her leg ) that'll remain until next Wednesday. Her appetite is good, no nausea and no vomiting which is a huge win. She'll have yet another CT scan next week along with a repeat chest X-Ray and a consultation with Chamberlain.

After a stressful week we're all breathing a sigh of relief to have her back home where she belongs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Re-Admitted to St Barnabas

Karen has been re-admitted to St. Barnabas due to an abscess on her liver. She's currently doing well.

It's been three weeks since surgery. In that time she has not had much of an appetite and her nausea has steadily increased. She spent much of the past week throwing up. This morning she had a scheduled CT scan and consultation with Dr Chamberlain (who has provided tremendous support to us in post-op).

The CT scan showed an almost fully regenerated cancer-free liver (a true medical miracle). However it also showed an abscess close to Karen's lung. As a result she was immediately admitted to hospital. This sucked as we weren't able to prep the kids and K didn't get to say goodbye to them. They're fine though.

Because the abscess was so close to her lungs, they didn't give anesthetic during the procedure as this would've impacted her breathing. So, lucky Karen had to suffer through the insertion of the drain "commando style". Very very painful.

Karen also has fluid in her lungs which is a minor cause for concern also. The team is monitoring this also.

In any case she's good now and will hopefully return home on Friday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Slow Recovery

Karen's home a couple of days now. We've been getting quite a few calls which tells me it's time to update the blog. She came home this week and the kids and I are very glad to have her back.

The situation is that Karen's on oral pain medication which works and doesn't work. She's still experiencing intense pain at times, other times it's tolerable. Moving around is very difficult and slow. She definitely can't be left in the house on her own. Imagine trying to move around without using your stomach muscles. It's hard to get comfortable for sleep with muscle cramps and the like although she's very tired. Her appetite is low with many things she just can't look at. She's getting by on sips and small bites whenever nausea and pain will allow. That's the bad news.

The good news is this is all to be expected and Chamberlain has assured us this is normal. As he put it, you might have one good day followed by three bad, don't get discouraged.

The kids are eager to jump on her and deliver their trademark crushing three-point-stance hugs which is just not an option right now.

Cynthia is here with us until Thursday which is a huge huge help and I will likely take some more time off until things improve.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Last Update For A While

Karen's doing a little better today. I did not get to visit but instead spent the day with the kids. They are also doing well, probably better than we expected. I'm typing this up beside them as they play in the tub. (the key to daddy daycare is multi-tasking).

I did speak to Karen a few times so far today. She has moved out of ICU and I even heard she maneuvered into a chair which is another good sign. It's hard for her to speak on the phone for anything more than a minute or two. My guess is she's comfortable but definitely still needs the meds and PCA. Chamberlain was also by to visit and seems to be pleased with progress.

I will visit again tomorrow as we juggle sitters and such. It definitely helps to have the hospital within 30mins ride. There won't be much to report so this'll be the last update for a while. Don't be alarmed, no news is good news.

Don McCloud and Adam Beldycki have scans coming up soon and our thoughts will be with them in the anxious moments leading up their results.

Thanks again to all for the continued support it really has helped and we are very appreciative.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Post-Op Recovery

Karen's doing so-so. She's stable. She spent a number of hours in recovery last night. "Recovery" is the room where you go after surgery and you get one-on-one nurse care. Usually folks spend an hour max in there and then go to the ICU room. She was transferred out at 2AM so 13 hours for her. She's in ICU now.

I spent a good deal of the afternoon with her then came home to put kids to bed. Her blood pressure was very low, 74/43 at one point so everyone was on edge. After I left they started giving her a blood transfusion and so far she's had 4 bags of plasma and 3 bags of red cells.

She's also been getting Saline, Magnesium, Calcium and other stuff. She has a lot of tubes still in. Until this morning she had a stomach-drain in which sucks the contents of your stomach out through your nose! K said that was horrible coming out. She still has an epidural, a mainline in her collar bone and a number of other things. Her mainline is covered in a crazy-glue type tape which in her drugged up state she tried to scratch off.

Her blood sugar was high yesterday (the liver helps control this) and so she's been getting insulin. Ironically they don't want her sugar going too low either so they've been giving her dextrose through IV. We've been waiting on a pain pump since this morning but pain is reasonably under control through the epidural and dilaudin. I am "escalating" this one.

It's very hard for her to get comfortable.

Aetna insurance called today. That's under control.

A number of folks asked me about visiting. It's not a great idea at the moment. K's in the Intensive Care Unit probably until tomorrow or Friday. You need to be buzzed in, patients are limited, can't bring food or flowers in with you and so on. In a couple days she'll be in a regular unit and that will be a different story.

So recovery is tough, but we knew that. Easy for me to say. This is when "Hold Fast" definitely applies. The first hurdle of surgery is over but we still have some tough road to travel. We'll get there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Surgery is Complete

Karen's doing great. I have not seen her yet. Surgery is over, she did great. I just met with Chamberlain. My head is spinning so here are some things he said "this is one of the biggest operations you can have", "everything went according to the plan", "she lost very little blood", "this is the first or second biggest operations he's ever done", "she has no visible cancer"!!! This guy has done an amazing amazing job and we are truly thankful to him and his team.

The risk now is infection so he did warn that visitors wash hands, and don't obviously come to the hospital if you have a cold/flu/bug of any kind.

She'll be in intensive care tonight, then a regular unit tomorrow.

I can go see her in about an hour. Teresa/Catherine I assume one of you will update mom and pop Shanahan. I need to go grab a bite. It DOES NOT get any better than this.

Much love.

Amazing News...Surgery In Progress

Karen's doing GREAT. I am here in St Barnabas waiting room. It's 11AM and I just spoke to Doctor Chamberlain about 20mins ago. I had to take a few minutes to absorb what he told me before jumping online to share.

We got here at 5:30AM and were seen within 15mins. They prepped Karen with IVs and a couple of tests, all went smooth. By 7AM she was wheeled into the prep-area. She and I got to meet all the doctors, anesthesiologists and residents. She has a huge team and the all have the appearance of the utmost competence.

We had a few minutes together and Karen's spirits were really good going into the op. We were nervously laughing and joking and making fun of the residents as we waited.

At 7:25AM I had to leave her as she got her epidural.

At about 9:30AM Stephanie came out and said the laproscopy had gone well and no new disease had been found. That meant the rest of the operation was going ahead.

About 25mins ago Dr Chamberlain himself came out and briefed me. I'm still in shock. He has taken out a portion of her colon and some of her left-liver lobe and the big news is he thinks he can take out the right lobe TODAY!!!

He said "in two more hours she will have no more visible disease"!!! Unbelievable.

She's still in the operating room right now. It's a long procedure with about 2-3 more hours to go. Her gall bladder will be next and about 30 or so lymph nodes. Then the entire right lobe of her liver.

Everything's going great and I am light-headed with the news. I will try to write more later.

Much love to all and thanks again for all the kind words, Karen told me they really do lift her spirits.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Checking into St Barnabas

Karen's doing well, hungry and working through the prep but in good spirits. All preparations are in place and so this is just a quick note around logistics.

St. Barnabas called this evening, they'd like us there tomorrow morning at 5:30AM. So we'll call that "sometime around" 5:30AM. Surgery starts at 7:30AM. I expect to see someone come out around 9AM to let me know what's going on. She should be done with surgery by 12:30PM.

There is Wifi in certain parts of the hospital and I will try to update the blog once we have some news.

Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. They really do help.