The very long day

Hi all. I got home a little while ago. The last 45 minutes I was at the hospital I spent in the ICU with Paul. Though he was on sedatives (to keep him from moving,fighting the ventilator, etc.) and painkillers (no explanation needed), he was at times aware that I was there. It was good, after a very long day of waiting, to just be able to sit by his bed and hold his hand.

According to the surgeons, the surgery (both tumor excision and reconstruction) went well. Dr. Weymuller, who removed the tumor, said that he was able to excise it cleanly. The tumor was attached to the mandible (jawbone), and though it didn’t appear to have invaded the bone, he also had to remove the part of the mandible where the tumor was attached. He said that there was no obvious lymph node involvement, though we won’t really know about the nodes until late next week, when the pathology report is finished. The tumor excision started at around 9 a.m., and took about 4 1/2 hours. Due to the removal of some bone, the reconstruction was more complicated, as it involved both soft tissue and bone grafts. According to Dr. Futran, who did the reconstruction, that part of the surgery went well, too. As well as removing what they call a “free flap” of skin and muscle from Paul’s forearm to repair the wound in his mouth, they also shaved off a sliver of the ulna, the non-weightbearing bone in the forearm, to use in reconstruction the jaw. The reconstruction lasted about 6 hours, and was finished at around 7:45 p.m. Dr. Futran said that Paul’s condition throughout the surgery was “rock solid”; there were no problems with his heart or any other systems.

For me, it was a very long day. Thanks to my parents’ presence, and visits and phone calls from other family and friends, it was much less stressful than it might have been. The guest book today was signed by college friends: Chris (also in town for her mother’s 70th birthday – hope it was a great party, Marcie!) and Chris; members of our morris team: Dirk (with 3-yr-old Camryn), his wife Tracey (with 5-month old Elinor, whom my mother was happy to hold), Ann, Frances, Kimberly and Dave; members of the English country dance community: Karin, Paul B., Judy, Kay, Rachel, Anita; Paul’s former coworker Gardner, and our kitties’ favorite auntie Lynne. Calls came from Paul’s father Norman, his sister Vanessa, my sister Melanie and college friends Becca and Eric. Among the wonderful things that people brought were handpicked flowers, read-aloud books, humor from the New Yorker, a soft squishy teddy bear, cards, puzzles, games, lunch, dinner, snacks, more chocolate (I won’t list all the varieties) than we could eat, funny stories, and lots of hugs. It was amazing. The caring and support I felt from everyone (as well as lots of trust in Paul’s medical team) enabled me to get through the day more easily and calmly than I had imagined possible. My deepest thanks to all of you who came and sat with me, or called, or emailed, or posted comments to the blog, or sent your well wishes through the vibe-o-sphere (thanks, Karin, for that term). As Paul wrote yesterday, your support is the silver lining… not just a tiny glint, but a bright, sparkling light in our lives.