Saturday, June 22, 2013

Recovery: Sleeping is Difficult. Please Pray that I Can Get Needed Rest.

"...he giveth his beloved sleep."  Psalms 127 

I have never been much of a fan of sleep, but my opinion has changed recently. 

After my tubes were removed, I was able to move around and enjoy some freedom. But at a cost.

The Doctor told me that due to the nature of a prostatectomy, many patients become incontinent and are required to wear a "Depends."  He asked me to wear them during the first stages of my recuperation.

The good news is, I have not really needed them. The bad news is, whenever I feel an urge to go, I can't just lie there, but jump out of bed and head to the bathroom. This happens 7 or more times a night.

Part of the problem might be caused by a "stint."  The Doctor said that one kidney was low and almost directly attached to the prostate region, so he lengthened the tube somehow and had to install a kind of plastic spring that would connect the kidney it to my bladder. These internal devices may be  contributing to a feeling of urgency that is hard to ignore. 

While I can rejoice in successful removal of the cancer, the sparing of my nerve bundles and my apparent continence, I am anxious to get some much needed rest so that my recovery may continue unimpeded by lack of sleep.

Sometimes you never miss something until it goes away. Right now, I am a big fan of sleep and will welcome its return.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You Are Wanted, But to Whose Call Will You Respond?

In 1913, the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton ran this recruitment ad in a London newspaper for his expedition in search of the South Pole. The romance of the idea of adventure, along with the power of advertising, were enough to generate more than 5,000 responses to this ad which ran but once.

People respond in great numbers to calls that promise pleasure, or even pain, if there is enough romance and glory involved.

But who today will respond to the call of God upon their life to become a pastor or missionary? I think few today would even answer this ad by Ernest Schakelton, inspiring though it is. Fewer still surrender their lives to God and respond to the call of full time Christian service. Yet, serving God is the greatest adventure and promises the greatest rewards, not to mention eternal recognition by God Himself in front of the entire assembled population of eternity.

Respond to God's claim upon your life. The sacrifices are real, but temporary. The glory and honor of serving our Great King is forever.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Date with the Robot and What Happened After

Monday June 3rd, Tina accompanied me while I checked into the hospital and we waited together in the frigid waiting room. We discovered later that each section of the hospital was colder than the last. The operating premise seemed to be that since bacteria multiply more slowly in Antartica, they should make your stay in the hospital replicate that experience as closely as possible. Tina brought blankets and some extra clothes for me, but ended up wearing half of them so that she wouldn't freeze while waiting for me to recover.

After a few hours of waiting on a gurney in the hallway, I was finally wheeled into the surgery room and saw the multi-armed robot that would be used to remove my prostate. The atmosphere was quiet. There was some very low classical music playing in the background. A number of surgery room personnel slid a bedsheet underneath me, and then lifted the ends to form a hammock like devise and then dragged me from the gurney to the operating table in one smooth move.

I felt a comfortable, warm sensation underneath as they eased my body into position under the operating room lights. I think there was a liquid filled pad that  had tubes and warm water moving through them. It felt good. Since I was expecting a cold table, the sensation of warmth pleased me. It is also the last thing I remember.

No one spoke to me, nor did I count backwards from 100, like they do in the movies. Nothing faded to black. I had no sensation of even falling asleep. I was just thinking about the nice warm heating pad one moment, and the next moment I was wondering when they were going to start the surgery.  Realizing that I was in a different room, I touched my stomach area and felt the little round scars, revealing to me that the robot had been there and had done its work.

After nine hours of waiting, Tina met me in the hall and we went to my assigned room.  The doctor was not there when I woke up, but Tina was able to give me a summary of the results.

1. The doctor said that the procedure went well and they were able to preserve all my nerve bundles. He felt that all the cancer was removed with the removal of the prostate. This portends well for a full recovery.

2. One of my kidneys was lower and closer to the bladder than they expected, so they had to attach it to a tube or a shunt, that will need to be removed later. It will be removed without surgery in the doctor's office. This should cause no problems, but means that I should take extra care during the recovery time .
3. Because of the unexpected kidney adjustment, and to monitor me for infection,  I stayed in the hospital for 5 days.

These 5 days were unexpected and proved to be difficult for me.

Tina came every day and cheered me on and helped me greatly. As soon as I could, I was on my feet and taking walks up and down the hospital hallways, tubes, bags, IVs and all. My main problem was this: I had been inflated with gas during the operation and I felt like my stomach was a balloon ready to pop.  Because of that I could barely force myself to eat.

The nurse said that if I walked a lot and chewed gum a lot, then I would eventually be able to work the gas out of my system and get some relief.  It was a strange experience walking up and down the hospital hallways with my wife, waiting for and then both of us celebrating the sound that eventually came and signaled the arrival of relief.

I was able to witness to an interesting man in the hospital. He was a doctor in the Cuban army, but had immigrated to the USA. He was not allowed to practice medicine as a doctor, but they allowed him to become a registered nurse after completing a certain program. I encouraged him to consider this idea: The government of Cuba cannot eliminate God by decree: if God exists, a governmental decree will not make Him disappear. His existence does not depend on governmental approval. We had some good discussions. When I was released from the hospital he came to see me off and we left on friendly terms.

I am at home now and am under instructions to walk every day, take pain pills as needed and not lift anything more then 10 lbs. for a 6 week period. The return to normal functions should "only" take from 6-8 weeks or up to 6 months. Some patients require 2 years for complete recoveries, while some never do have a recovery that is fully complete.

Please pray for us as we travel through this valley of recuperation. Besides the physical and mental stresses of it all, we also have the financial challenge of it to weather. Some have already helped us with portions of the expense. Thank you for your help, gifts and prayers said on our behalf.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Robotic Surgery Scheduled for Me

Monday morning I have an appointment with a robot.

I am having my prostate removed because of a cancerous nodule found in it. My doctor suggested that we use this robotic surgery technique to remove it. It has some advantages over older methods, so we decided to go with it.

Please pray for me that I would have a good outcome and a rapid and complete recovery.

(The video below gives a brief, animated overview on what I will be going through and explains how the robot will be involved.)