It’s only Friday night. Surgery was just over a mere 48 hours ago, and yet I feel like I have lived a few lives since then. And yet tonight, I am feeling more relaxed than I have in weeks. Truly relaxed. Every night I think I will sleep and it evades me, yet I truly think tonight I will.
I know I could easily look to see when I last posted, yet its more complicated than that navigating on the iPad and working with different Wifi’s access codes….so suffice to say, I am not quite sure when I last wrote. Perhaps Wednesday night, perhaps last night. I don’t know.
Yet, its been a wild 48 hours since Andrew came out of surgery. Complete with super sweet relief from the sheer good news and results of his surgery, to the pain and sadness — watching him have the necessary ups and downs of recovery from a major thoracic surgery. Yesterday consisted of Andrew having a miserable morning for quite a few hours, complete with headaches and anxiety and general depression, to a better afternoon of up energy and optimism and relief from pain. Just to end the day with more intensity around his pain and mood and change of narcotic which brought more tubes and beeping machines — which greatly affected his mood and morale.
Fast forward to this morning when I was back in his room at 7am. He had already left for a chest X-ray and I was able to visit with his night nurse who let me know that he had slept well and was such a kind and gracious patient, making her “job so easy”. Andrew very quickly established wonderful report with all of his care providers, because that is who he is, and also because EVERYONE at MDA are truly angels in their own right.
When we met this morning at 7:30 upon his return from X-ray, Andrew looked amazing — great color in his cheeks, rested eyes, big, real deal smile. SO wonderful. I had left the kids sleeping at the hotel, so it was just the two of us and it was such a nice time of connecting. He came into his room and we decided to walk the halls. Yet, I asked to feed him some of the fresh fruit I had brought him before we walked. So, he sat on the edge of his bed, and I fed him piece by piece…all the while, watching his face and demeanor change. His pain was changing, rapidly and was fast becoming acute and sharp. We put him back into bed, pushed more meds and I rubbed his feet with all hope that the pain would subside. It as 90 minutes before it released. He was tense, moaning, and scared. He had decided that he was going to do everything he needed to do within his power to get himself discharged by Saturday, and this was feeling like a major setback. Perhaps. Yet, I just wanted the pain to subside for him.
By 9:30, the pain released and his shoulders relaxed and his brow unfurrowed and he was tired again. Different nurses were coming in to talk about his care for the day and goals and plans for discharge. This fired him up again, and as soon as he felt up for it, we walked. And he ate, and he drank fluids and was totally on the program yet again, fairly pain free.
Hamilton and the kids arrived at 12:00 and we all visited for some time. I left with the kids by 12:40 to head back to the hotel to meet the sitter who was planning on spending the afternoon with the kids. They were full of energy and were so happy to have seen Daddy.
As soon as I got the kids set up with the sitter, Miller let me know that he wanted to come back to the hospital with me to “help support Dad”. Who is this kid? Clearly, Andrew’s son. So. the girls went to the Houston Zoo with Chelsea and Miller and I went back to MDA. We had a really nice, easy afternoon — with GREAT news. Andrew’s pain was totally under control, he was relaxed and in good spirits. Andrew went for another chest at about 2pm and once the positive results came back (that his air in his chest cavity was not increasing) from that, he was cleared to have his chest tube removed. Miller very deliberately stepped out of the room, and I held Andrew’s hand while Sonia (one of Dr. Swisher’s nurses, who had been with Andrew during the surgery) prepped Andrew for the removal, as well as talked to us about the surgery and the cancer they found. I will let Andrew be the one to talk about his cancer finding. Sonia was a true pro and with some breathing exercises and distraction had the foot and a half long chest tube out with no pain. MAGIC. And almost immediately, Andrew was like a new man. Incredible relief, incredible pain relief and discomfort abated…clearly no one is meant to have anything foreign in their bodies and the release of such foreign body (albeit necessary) is cause of somatic celebration! And then the removal of all wires and tubes/IV’s began. The beginning of the discharge process. So exciting and so exhilarating. And yet I felt I needed to caution Andrew to moderate his dancing around the room and fist pumping. You never know, right?
I left the room at 4:45pm to go relieve the sitter and pick up the girls to bring them back for a family dinner in the room. Hamilton was there to be with Andrew, and during my short time away informed me that he was struggling again. More pain and perhaps some disorientation from the switch to oral meds, versus the IV pain meds. Bottom line is that Andrew does NOT do well with narcotics. While they are a necessary means to an end in the pain management game, he does NOT like them. By the time we arrived, he was doing better and we had a super fun and lovely hour visit.
Soon after the kids and I left tonight, Andrew was joined by Hamilton and his other brother Lang (who flew in today from Portland, Oregon). The last text I got from him sounded happy and content. And LOVED.
Its been a fairly manic 48 hours — a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, yet the end result is that the odds are VERY much in Andrew’s favor to have a discharge tomorrow afternoon. If his morning chest X-ray is good, he will be joining us at the hotel by the afternoon.
The plan is to continue to rest and recover here at Hotel Zaza in Houston until Tuesday morning when we meet with Dr. Swisher again, and hopefully get a blessing to fly home….Tuesday afternoon/evening. AMAZING.
I will leave you with the pure amazement that I experienced today, that despite the roller coaster of ups and downs, and how hard it is to see the one you love the most in such desperate pain… that when Andrew felt relief, both mid-morning after 90 minutes of acute pain, as well as this afternoon once his chest tube was removed, he chose to direct conversation immediately to how this blog would evolve once his more immediate fight with cancer ended. He was most concerned with how to really direct his energies to giving back and not only marking the incredible gratitude he feels for so many in his path right now, yet also for how he wants to pay his good fortune and grace forward. Is this man for real?
I am not worthy. Yet I am inspired to meet him in this incredible place…and work that much harder to keep going an extra mile in every thing we do, both individually and collectively.