My father-in-law had surgery on Friday to have his voicebox and part of his thyroid removed. We found out just a few weeks ago that he had cancer, and although the prognosis is good and it seemed to be concentrated around his voicebox, it still rocked our world.
Mike and I have heard the “C” word more times than we ever imagined. It took our mothers, our grandfathers, was instrumental in my grandmother’s death, whisked away my best friend’s father, and just last year stole my aunt. I could go on and on. As stupid as it sounds, this is our most positive experience with cancer yet.
Two Fridays ago, Bob underwent about 3 hours of surgery. Because of an infection in his throat, they were unable to do the total laryngectomy, and instead they did some further biopsies and installed a trach tube. He went back in this past Friday and had the full laryngectomy. Eight hours of surgery later, he was taken to his room for the night. When we went to see him on Saturday, he was able to walk around—not just a few steps. A trek down the hall to the end of his unit and back, and then on into the main part of the hospital. I was stunned. For the five or so hours I was there on Saturday, he was sitting upright in a chair, watching TV, and didn’t even take a nap. He even was using his white board to communicate with us—not just when he needed something, but to crack jokes and make funny comments.
He’s cut in a U-shape from one ear, down to the base of his neck, and up to the other ear. There are 2 sets of drainage tubes on each side of his neck, an IV, a feeding tube, and a device over his trach tube to keep it moist. Despite all of the tubes and wires, the inches of staples holding the incision closed, and the fact that he’s stuck in the hospital for probably what will be the better part, if not all, of this week, his spirits are good and his color is the best I’ve seen in weeks.
I hesitate to write that he’s “out of the woods” for good. He’s underweight—my guess is maybe 140 or 145 lbs on a 6’2” frame. He needs to gain weight, get stronger. Although the surgeon seems to think that he got the entire tumor, Bob will probably have to undergo chemo and/or radiation later on, just to make sure. He’ll have to learn to talk again, to swallow, to eat. Things we take for granted and do without thinking. There will be hours of speech therapy and physical therapy ahead. But he’s headed in the right direction. And, wow, is that a good feeling.