Sorry it has taken me so long to send an update since his surgery this past Tuesday, August 20.
We appreciate your prayers more than we can ever express. Thank you for lifting my dad's name to our Lord!
Surgery was a very long but successful day. He was almost in surgery 10 hours. We received updates from the operating room every 2 hours. The surgery began with removal of lymph nodes (what he had left) in neck area. This part of procedure took very long because his muscles were so tight from previous radiation. Margins were sent to lab to check that they were clear after this. Then there was the removal of all the tumors, larynx (voice box) and changing his airway to the front of his throat. Then, the removal of his throat. Then, the next Dr. began the throat reconstruction. Tissue was taken from his leg to create a new throat. His begins at the base of his tonge, down to his esophagus. It's a pretty large area.
Now the healing and recovery period has begun.
He, as imagined, had significant swelling and significant pain through that night and into Wednesday morning, but was eventually controlled with the right pain medicines.
He will remain at UAB recovering for 7-10 days following surgery day. Today is day 3.
Specific hurdles to overcome during recovery period:
Days 1-3: No clotting of arteries and veins to new areas of his neck. They monitored this every hour the first 24 hrs, then every 2, then every 4, and so on with a machine similar to an ultrasound machine and you can audibly hear the blood flow. We are almost in the clear of this area. Praise God, he's had no clotting.
Days 4-6: No infection. They give the pt antibiotics during surgery and for the remaining 24 hours. Then they stop antibiotics. This is done in case there is infection from the surgery, it will show up while the pt is still in the hospital and not at home. He is at high risk for this because the length of the surgery, how extensive this surgery is, hospital setting, etc. Pray the Lord protects his body from infection!
Day 7-8. He has a plastic stint in his newly constructed throat that is holding it open like a straw. It will be removed Monday morning. Another huge hurdle is that this new throat has no tears or holes in it. Right now he has 3 drainage tubes around the incision area. On Monday after the stint removal, he will drink grape juice. The ENT that did the throat reconstruction surgery will be watching these 3 tubes for any sign of purple juice. Pray no juice will appear in these drainage tubes!
He started physical therapy the morning after the surgery. Sitting up, standing up, staying out of bed in a reclined chair. Today is day 3, he is not in the bed except to sleep at night. He is doing his exercices PT has shown him to do while in his chair or walking every waking hour. He has not slept during the day since surgery. This is amazing! We praise God for these victories!
When the other ENT saw him yesterday (Dr. Carroll, the one who removes the cancer, voice box, and lymph nodes) he said he was ahead of the curve for most of his pts at this time. He did have a rough morning today. He needed a unit of blood. Dr. Carroll said this was not alarming because knowing how bad his body was beaten down with cancer, he needed the blood. He said the 5th day is usually a hard day. So, please lift him in prayer on Sunday!!!
Please pray for these specific hurdles. He is at high risk for all of them.
Please pray that his spirits stay high as he continues to make gains. Mom did tell us that he is tired of being in his room.
Ultimately, just pray for rest during his recovery: mental, physical, and emotional. This is such a huge surgery and life change with his voice and swallowing. Please pray that his spirits stay high as he is communicating mostly through writing and gestures right now. We praise God that he had an option, not an easy one. So many have no options.
I feel like my dad has gone through the most selfless surgery and experience just for life. I know his grandchildren are a huge factor in his decision and motivation. He went through such a hard treatment schedule in 2004 and has experienced one of the most involved surgeries you can have. I am so encouraged by him. He is a true hero.
My mom and dad have not seen them since the first Sunday in August. We are waiting for more healing to take place before then. They miss them greatly. And, so do the boys.
Thank you all for your prayers, emails, texts, etc. It's so comforting knowing that brothers and sisters in Christ can lift another's name and take it to His feet.
I am humbled by all of you and your care. Please let me know how I can lift your name in prayer as well.
I love each and every one of you and cherrish our friendships,