Airing Dirty Laundry

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The Big “C”. Again. April 13, 2009

Filed under: family — airingdirtylaundry @ 8:27 pm

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.


10 Responses to “The Big “C”. Again.”

  1. Therese Says:

    Thank goodness, Shawna! He will be in our prayers…you know I feel the same way about cancer…but am glad to hear good news!

  2. Lori Says:

    There is way too much cancer in the world. I’m sorry that it visited your family again… but I am glad that it seems to be going as well as can be expected at this point. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Holli Says:

    What a great attitude though! I love to hear about people that are undergoing horrible things in their lives and still smiling….makes me believe in the power of positive thinking even more you know?

  4. Jamie Says:

    It’s unfair that you guys have seen so much of it. But you’re also fighting it rather than sitting around complaining about it, which I think is awesome.

    Your FIL sounds like a real trouper and hopefully he will continue to conquer this battle and win it! Having a positive attitude really makes a difference and by the sounds of it, he is really kicking a$$. My thoughts are with yinz!

  5. Sydney Says:

    Will add your father-in-law to my prayer list. Thank goodness he’s doing well. We’ll keep those prayers coming!

  6. twoweekwait Says:

    I will keep him in my prayers.

    I just sent you an email at your airlingdirtylaundry at word press dot come account.

    Hope you are well.

  7. Michele Says:

    Shawna…I’m so happy for your Fatherinlaw…what great news! He has lots of stuff to do still…like being Grandpa to that little bambino or bambina that you’re still cooking!

    Cheers to Bob and all of you!


  8. Karen MEG Says:

    Shawna, I ‘m so happy that the surgery went well and that hopefully your FIL will be on the mend soon. C is a dirty, dirty word and I’m so glad to hear that this battle is going well…

  9. Sorry to hear about your FIL, but I’m glad the surgery went well. Here’s hoping he’s well into his recovery by now and that things are on the upward swing.

  10. Amy-jo Says:

    Glad to hear he is on the mend. I hope the recovery is quick. Remind him that slow and steady will win the race.

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