Cancer 6

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I’m still here.

There’s nothing like spending some time in hospital to get a visceral reminder that “well, things could be a whole lot worse”. There are plenty of people dealing with far more dire scenarios than a little surgical recovery with a discharge in a handful of days.

My stay was scheduled for 3-5 days, and I was discharged in 4, a testament to my good health going in and the skill of my surgeon in doing the least harm while still doing what needed to be done.

It was still a long and eye-opening four days.

Psychologically, the worst time was the 24 hours before they put me under. Fasting, and hard antibiotics, and bowel prep, and anticipation, and an early start. I shed some tears in the pre-op while waiting to roll into the OR, for sure.


The four days of recovery in hospital included all sorts of new indignities, from catheterization to shitting the bed, from adult diapers to the generalized humiliation of being unable to move, pinned down by gravity and pain. Good personal growth moments. This is staying alive, in all its messiness, a process of continuous compromise and self-adjustment.

Now I have two recoveries to work on.

The near term one is healing from the surgery. They put a breathing tube down my throat, catheterized me, cut six little port-holes into my abdomen to stuff laproscopic tools through, inflated my abdominal cavity so they could see what they were doing, cut out the majority of my rectum and the surrounding lymph nodes, stapled the sigmoid colon to whatever rectum was left, inflated my bowel to test that joint, and then closed me back up again. My middle is in rough shape. But it should all recover to more-or-less its previous strength, over several weeks.

The longer term one is how my GI system adjusts to missing several critical centimeters at the end. This is where permanent changes loom, the bits that worry me. How long I can go between trips to the bathroom and how much control I have over things when I need to, are recovery processes that will play out over several months.

So far, for someone in their first week of recovery, I think I am doing well.

I am trying not to worry too much about the whole cancer part of this journey, which is still in the grey area until we get pathology back on the parts they took out of me. That will determine whether I am due for several months of post-operative chemotherapy, or move directly to monitoring.

Talk to you again soon, inshalla.