It never ceases to amaze me how different doctor visits can be. Sometimes you are in and out so fast that you are left to wonder if they really care for you as a patient or if that's really all there is to say about the situation. You leave scratching your head and trying to figure out if all your questions were answered and then vow to make a list of questions before going back the next time. The problem with that is sometimes you don't even know what questions you might want to ask until you get there and start assessing the situation.
Then other doctor visits are way longer and you feel as though you can keep on asking questions and the doctor won't leave the room until you are completely satisfied. Sometimes you even wonder if they have any other patients but you because they linger so long!
Harris and I went back to his surgeon yesterday for a follow-up appointment, and we are just so impressed with this man. He has never made us feel rushed and always takes his time to make sure we understand everything that is going on, even though we know he has lots of patients. Love that! After asking all the normal questions and checking Harris's abdomen, we proceeded to discuss the stent that he had placed in the colon to open it up and create a passageway. At one point the surgeon had talked about the possibility of maybe letting it stay in there long-term, but he needed to do some research with other doctors and the manufacturer of the stent to see if that was advisable. He went to a conference last week and ended up discussing Harris's case with several people, and the executive decision has been made that while stents are great for short-term needs, they should not be left in a colon long-term. There are just too many risks involved, and there would be no warning if the stent started to erode.
Our doctor recommends that it come out within three to six months from the date of the original surgery, April 12. We want to give the colon a good chance to heal from all the trauma it's been through, but we don't want to wait too long either. He will be removing the 10cm section of colon that has the stent in it and then reconnecting it back together again. Instead of using staples to hold it together, he will be going back to the old-fashioned method of hand sewing the colon back together. There is no guarantee that a stricture won't happen again, but the point of connection will be larger this time, and by making it larger, even if scar tissue does form again, hopefully the passageway will still be large enough for things to pass. The surgery will take two to three hours, the incision will be longer, an umbilical hernia will also be removed, and the recovery period will be another four to six weeks.
Usually when this doctor is talking, I find my attention glued to his every word so that I can comprehend all that he is telling us and keep asking questions until I'm completely satisfied, but for some reason yesterday when Harris started asking lots of questions about the stent itself, my mind started making plans of when would be the best time to have surgery again. Harris had already commented to the doctor that he'd like to wait till the November/December time frame, but my mind started processing the fact that that's when we'll be going back for Heath's follow-up MRI to see if the tumor in his brain has grown or not. If it hasn't grown, that will be awesome news, and we can probably safely avoid surgery for him, but if it has grown, we'll be facing the fact that he may need to have brain surgery in that same November/December time frame.
And that's when my mind and heart could hardly take all that it was processing. Thankfully I was able to hold it together, and they probably didn't even know they'd lost me, but my mind was whirling in a totally different direction than theirs. What if my husband and son were both requiring surgery at the same time? Would it be better for me to have two men in the hospital at the same time, or would it be better to string out all this medical stuff and just plan on two to four months of surgeries and recoveries? What will this mean for our family plans over Thanksgiving and Christmas? Financially when would be the best time for Harris to take another six weeks off work? Mentally he's just not ready to voluntarily sign up for another surgery at this point and would rather enjoy his summer, but the fall is a busy season for us as a family. If we wait till 2012, we KNOW we will be faced with another year of meeting our $5400 deductible, but if we could somehow pull all this off in 2011, MAYBE we could go a year without meeting it. Scrap that plan. Follow-up visits for all this stuff will assure us of a third year in a row of meeting our deductible anyway. But what about . . . what if . . .
Finally I jolted back to the conversation at hand and realized that I had just missed out on some crucial information that was being discussed. Eventually I started sharing some of my thoughts with these two men, and I sensed a new wave of compassion from our surgeon when I shared the waiting situation we are in with Heath. He then shared some information with us about his family, and we all grew just a bit closer in that little office space. We asked him how much notice he needed in order to arrange Harris's surgery, and he said he would be willing to do it with two or three days' notice if that's what was necessary. Wow!
We left that room feeling as though he really cares. We are just both so impressed with him. Now we just need to figure out when is going to be the best time to sign up for surgery. Harris is in no way looking forward to it, but he finally came to grips with it by saying, "Well, I think I'll feel better knowing that that thing isn't in me anyway."
Finally, all we can do is make a plan to the best of our ability and trust God with the outcome. We've certainly learned that He can change our plans at any given time anyway, so we need not fret about when is going to be the perfect time. He'll take care of us then just like He's taken care of us now, and with that confident assurance, we will just live each day to its fullest and enjoy it.