JJ was able to get a couple hours of sleep during the night. I woke him a little after 4 a.m. so he would have time to take a shower before we left for the hospital. We arrived at the hospital by 5:30 a.m. as instructed and were told where to go to sign in for his surgery. A few minutes later a nurse took him back to get him in the hospital gown and all. We were told that we could join him when he was all ready.
We were able to sit with JJ in pre-op for quite a while. While we were there, everyone who was on the surgical team stopped in and introduced themselves. We were surprised that there would be five doctors working on him: the surgeon and his resident doctor, the anestheologist and his resident anestheseologist, and another doctor. I can’t remember what the last doctor did. They were all very friendly and compassionate and told us that they would take good care of JJ.
As soon as JJ was ready for surgery, we were directed to sign in with the lady at the desk in the surgical waiting area. She told us that the waiting area is divided up into sections. We were to choose a section and then tell her where we were so we could be easily found. Each section had a TV. There was free water and coffee available, vending machines, and computers for our use. We had brought our laptops with us so we didn’t need to use the hospital computers.
The waiting area had a Family Support person who would check on the status of the patients and then come and tell the families how their loved ones is doing. The first time we saw her was at around 8:30 a.m., she said that JJ had gone to surgery at 7:48 and that he was currently in surgery and doing well. The second time we saw her she said that he was in recovery and sleeping without a care in the world. She said that a nurse would not leave his side while he was in recovery.
JJ was out of surgery at about 9 a.m.. The surgery wasn’t as long as expected. EJ and I were led to a nearby consultation room where the surgeon met us to tell us how the surgery went. He said that the surgery went very well, it was very routine, and there were no surprises. I asked if this surgery would take care of all the cancer. He said that he’d have to wait for the pathology report to see, but it was likely that it would.
JJ had to have a pain med injected into his spine. That took 45 minutes because he had to be repositioned. Then he was in recovery for two hours. After he had stabilized, he was taken to his room and we met him there. We went to his room a little after 11 a.m.
When we arrived in his room, Jared looked very pale, weak, and drowsy. He indicated to me that he was in a lot of pain. I felt like crying. Then I started getting hot and clammy. I leaned over and said, “I’m getting faint.” EJ and a nurse helped me out of the room. Out in the hall, I leaned against the wall and slid down toward the floor–on purpose so I wouldn’t fall if I fainted. After awhile, I felt better and I was able to go back into the room. I was afraid I’d faint again when a nurse said that the reason JJ has stomach spasms is because his intestines were removed from his body to reach the lymph node and then put back in. Shudder. But I didn’t faint.
JJ is receiving oxygen through a tube in his nose. There is a sensor in front of his mouth that measures the amount of CO2 that he is exhaling. His body doesn’t want to breath or exhale deeply because he is in so much pain. If he doesn’t exhale enough CO2, the numbers on the machine go up past 60 and an alarm goes off. If the numbers stay high and the alarm keeps sounding for a certain amount of time, the machine won’t give him pain meds, which he really needs right now. Right now the alarm goes off every few seconds.
The nurse said that from their standpoint, JJ looks really good and is doing great. From our standpoint, this is the hardest day ever.
We weren’t in JJ’s room long when a young woman arrived with a bunch of balloons attached to a stuffed kitty for JJ. There was also a bag of snack food for us. They were all from my friend in Texas. I was so touched that I cried.
Visiting hours are from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. We will be here as early and as late as we can.