Monday, February 28, 2011

Trouble with Tumors

My husband had some suspicious tumors removed from his leg this past week at Hunstman Cancer Center.  He has since been released from the hospital.  He checked into the hospital looking normal, came out of surgery looking like he had been mugged (and suspiciously resembling a cancer patient), and he is now still bedridden but improving daily.

I am on family medical leave from work to take care of him and the household while he recovers.

We have not received the biopsy results back yet to find out if the tumors were malignant, but during the operation the oncologist said that based on what he saw during surgery, he can tell that even if it is cancer, it is not aggressive/high-grade, so that is good news.

He was born with neurofibromatosis (NF), which causes painful but usually benign tumors to grow all over his body.  We are fortunate to live in a location where we can get excellent quality care for him.  He goes to one of the only NF clinics in the country for care, which happens to be at the U of U.  This clinic is affiliated with an oncologist (cancer doctor) at Huntsman Cancer Center who specializes in NF patients. 

(By the way, here is a note to all you people who hate healthcare reform and want to return to the status quo.   Even though we live near all of these specialists, the only reason we can access them is because I am a state employee with a public employee health insurance plan.  My husband is a small business owner, and until health reform goes into full effect,  he is ineligible to buy insurance for himself because of his preexisting conditions. If I ever lose my state job, it could kill my husband, who is less healthy than some of you tea-party-jerks through no fault of his own.)

Okay, moving away from politics, for those of you who missed the Facebook play-by-play during surgery, here it is:


7:33 am
I'm at Huntsman Cancer today, where my husband is getting surgery on a suspicious tumor. Not fun, but it is comforting to have such experts helping him and to be in such a beautiful facility. I love this building.

7:51 am
Now we're in the hospital room. That gorgeous lobby was a ruse. This room is tiny and painted dingy off-white floor to ceiling. Who likes this color?

8:14 am
They are so flexible and spontaneous here. Maybe they'll do a biopsy, maybe they'll do a complete resection. Maybe they'll send him home after surgery, maybe they'll keep him here. They will decide after they cut into him. Unless they change their minds.

8:18 am
He is wondering if he can ask to keep his nasty little tumor after they chop it out of him, after all, he grew it all by himself. Should he ask? Would they say yes? If they did say yes, how would we incorporate it into our decorating scheme?

8:41 am
The doctor has just presented his plan. He is going to cut out pieces of the tumor at a time and biopsy them. If he finds aggressive cancer, he will stop proceeding today. If not, he will keep going. So cross your fingers that I am here for a long time.

9:43 am
My sisters just joined me in the lobby of the cancer center. They brought tunes to combat the melancholy. (There is lots of crying in a cancer center lobby.) Cool discovery: the chairs here are in his and her sizes.

10:45 am
The nurse called to update me. They don't have any biopsy results yet, but he is doing well in surgery.

1:04 pm
He is out of surgery. The doc says they have not completely finished labs, but things look good. They did not see anything too scary.

1:57 pm
We're not going to keep the tumor after all. Another doctor just called and begged us to let her have it for science. It is just as well. I haven't seen it, but I doubt it would have matched the living room furniture.

3:20 pm
Out of surgery. Hard to see, but he has two black eyes. He looked much better this morning.

5:45 pm
Upright! Not dancing yet...