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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year, Neck Surgery Next

Happy New Year, 2011!

Carl and I and the children ended 2010 as we have been ending the Year for over a decade now - welcoming in the new year with some college friends and our eight assorted children, all born within 5 years of each other. (I think Carl and I visited each child in the hospital when they were born.)

It was a good way to close out the decade - We have been getting together for New Years Eve with these friends every year since before the turn of the millenium. (Photo above from Dec 31, 2000.)

January ushered in cold weather and more pain in Carl's neck. Multiple Doctors reviewed Carl's case, and are now recommending that Carl has a surgery to de-bulk the tumor in his neck. They considered this surgery before (in April 2010), and decided not to operate, (and at the time we were glad!). Now that the neck is giving him more trouble, the plan is that Carl will have surgery on his neck near the end of January 2011. [Update: The Surgery was on January 24, 2011] (Keep Carl in your prayers, PLEASE!)

First a special Doctor will do a procedure called an angiogram a day or two before the surgery. They will do an angiogram with embolization. Embolization is kind of the opposite of an angioplasty - the Doctors will attempt to kill and destroy the blood vessels that are supplying the tumor. [Update: The angiogram with embolization was on January 21, 2011]

On surgery day a neck surgeon will carefully remove as much of the tumor in Carl's neck as he safely can, approximately 90-95%. The surgeon will not try to remove it all, there are important nerves, blood vessels and spine stuff he doesn't want to get too close to. (The neck is a pretty important part of the body.) The surgeon will also try to cauterize (kind of burn to a crisp?) the blood vessels that are looking like they might want to supply the tumor area. A downside of removing the tumor is that the surgeon will then have to fuse several of Carl's neck vertebrae (C1 to C4, for those curious). An upside of this fusing procedure is that Carl may (with luck) actually have more neck mobility then he currently has now. Carl is in enough pain that he really turns his head very little at the moment. Carl will hopefully stay in the hospital for only a couple of days, stabilize, and then go home to recover. He will not be able to drive for 6 weeks.

I was glad the doctors didn't recommend this procedure in April of 2010, but now I really want the days to pass quickly until the surgery is over and done with. Carl has not bounced back from the last chemotherapy (which ended Dec 30, 2010) like he has from previous chemotherapies. Carl's pain is barely controlled by the medication he is taking - daily Oxicodone, with Oxicontin and Tylenol for 'break through' pain, of which there is a lot. The pain drains him of a lot of energy. It's hard to watch someone in pain and be unable to help in any meaningful way. Carl has lost weight for the first time in a year.
Through this month he has been dragging himself to and from work as well, and I don't know whether to encourage or discourage this. (He probably wouldn't take my suggestions, anyway.) He basically comes home and collapses, sleeping an incredible amount, leaving me to wonder if I should wake him up to encourage him to eat, or let him sleep. I don't know the answer. When you get married they don't give you a book that tells you what do do in situations like this. I actually pray that I am not messing it up too badly.

I'm glad we made it to this weekend, (Jan 15 and 16), where Carl can rest, eat, and rest more. Next week the children have off Monday and Friday, and the two in high school have "exam week", and then we will tackle the medical procedures. Hopefully all will go well.

May your 2011 be healthy.


Bridget said...

Of course, many prayers for all of you!

You don't mention that half of those 8 kids in five years are YOURS! ;-) Sounds like a great way to ring in a new year. And, let's just hope, a healthier one for all of you.

Anonymous said...

Hey...a couple of those kids look awfully familiar to me! :) That picture of the kids when they were little is ADORABLE!

You know that we are here for you...if you need something, please let us know. I will be calling you to get more details on the surgery (dates, etc).

Love you guys!!

~Ray and Mary Langford~

Anonymous said...

Great Pictures Jeanne! It's fun to go back to the archives. Our prayers are with you and the family. Please let us know if you need anything during the next few weeks.

The Lesars

suelmayer said...

Jeanne, just keep doing the best you can. There are no manuals for marriage, for medical issues, for raising complicated kids...we just have to wing it and as you say...hope we are not screwing it up too much. I'm praying, I wish I could be doing more but I definitely keep praying. Please let me know when the surgery is. I'm sending you a big hug!

Anonymous said...

It looks like you all had a great time New Years. We will continue to pray for all of you and watch for the updates on Carl's surgery. You are doing a wonderful job in keeping us all posted on his condition. Say "Hi" to everyone from all of us.
Love, Shirley Grisa