Finally Time for Alexandra’s Surgery
Finally Time for Alexandra’s Surgery
WARNING: SOME PHOTOS MAY BE DISTURBING TO READERS SO I HAVE ADDED LINKS TO THOSE PHOTOS
It’s been a long six months since our 20-year-old granddaughter was first diagnosed with a large tumor in lung. There have been many tests, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, biopsies and surgeons consults. It was finally time for Alexandra’s surgery which was scheduled for November 2nd and the closer it got, the more nervous and scared we became. My hubby and I drove to Ohio from South Carolina a few days before surgery to spend a few days with Alexandra. We didn’t do much except be together and eat!
Wednesday morning we left about 6:00 AM to get Alex to the hospital by 7:00 AM. She signed in and within a few minutes she was called to be escorted up to surgery prep. The pre-op team was fantastic, so orchestrated when putting in her IV’s, EKG monitors and the InterNerve electrodes to monitor the nerves affected in the spine.
One by one, her surgical team came in and explained what they were going to be doing and after she was all prep the entire team came in for what they called “the huddle” to explain that Alexandra would be having two separate surgeries back to back. The first would be done by the neuro surgeon where he would remove the tumor from her spine, the next would be done by the the cardio vascular surgeon to remove the part of the tumor affecting her lung, heart and aorta.
Surgery started right on schedule at 9:00 AM and was estimated to last 8 hours. The clock ticked away ever so slowly, we did nothing but worry and wonder how much longer. About 2:30 PM, the neuro surgeon came down and explained the surgery he performed. The incision started at the base of her neck, above where the tumor was and went down until no more tumor was visible, then went a bit farther to make sure it was clean. The surgeon had to cut the bones of her spine in order to carefully and methodically burn and cut the tumor out which had infiltrated in her spine from T-1 to T-5 and was compressing her spinal cord. There were four areas in the spine that he removed large parts of the tumor. He then burnt other parts to make sure the cells were killed and inserted a titanium rod and screws on the left side of spine where the bones were cut apart. She lost quite a bit of blood in the first part of her surgery so when the lung surgery is done, it was thought that she may need a transfusion.
I can’t imagine the skill needed to work on such critical spinal nerves for over 5 hours. He explained that she was now being re-positioned for the second surgery by the cardio vascular surgeon.
Once again, we watched the minutes on the clock tick away ever so slowly in anticipation of 5:00 when it would be the 8 hours that Alex’s surgery was expected to last. Just before five o’clock, I received a text message saying the surgeon was still working. Back to watching the hands on the clock tick away, thinking surgery would soon be over. When it got close to 7:00 PM, we go nervous and I went to the desk and asked if there was any info and was told the surgery is taking longer than expected. My phone went off again with the same message from the surgeon saying still working. Shortly before 9:00 PM, we received a message saying the surgeon was getting ready to close Alex up. The cardio vascular surgeon came to the waiting room when the surgery was completed and explained to us that they had never seen anything to the extend and size of the tumor in Alex’s tiny body. The front part of the tumor measured about 4″ across by 6″ long and 4″ thick.
WARNING: THIS IS A GRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPH OF THE TUMOR AND MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME TO VIEW SO I’M ADDING ONLY A LINK FOR THOSE THAT DON’T WANT TO SEE IT.
What was thought to be a tumor in her chest wall that was pushing on her lung, heart and aorta plus infiltrating into her spine had also squeezed its way into her shoulder and was embedded in the bones and muscles. The surgeon went on to explain that this involved tedious cutting and burning the tumor away from her muscles.
Both of Alex’s incisions from the surgeons were carefully closed up with invisible stitches. There are no staples or stitch marks so when they heal, the scars will be minimal. It’s amazing the amount of care they took to close them, it’s almost like an invisible zipper.
WARNING: THIS IS A GRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPH OF THE INCISIONS ON ALEX’S BACK AND MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME TO VIEW SO I’M ADDING ONLY A LINK FOR THOSE THAT DON’T WANT TO SEE IT.
This whole ordeal still seemed like a bad dream as we headed up to the Cardio Vascular ICU to see Alex after her long, extensive, delicate surgery. She had an IV port in her hand, another in her neck with enough ports for six different hook ups, plus a variety of tubes, drains and monitors that she was hooked up to and I bent down, gently kissed her forehead and told her I love her.
Thursday and Friday were very painful days for Alex. Since surgery, her blood counts were very low and Friday the surgeons decided she needed a blood transfusion.
Alexandra melted the hearts of many of her nurses in the CVICU because of her spirit and drive. She never complained even though she was in severe pain. The day nurse on Thursday and Friday was super special. She stopped in Friday evening at the end of her shift and brought Alex a package.
When Saturday morning arrived, her blood count had once again dropped and she was given two more transfusions. Her pain was still very bad, but she never complained. The neck port was removed and also her chest tube. After the neuro surgery came in and checked her, the drain in her spine was removed on Sunday. Now that all the tubes and drains were removed from her back, it was a bit more comfortable for her to lay flat.
Alex wanted to get out of the hospital so bad but the doctors felt she needed a bit more time. By Sunday evening, they moved her to the neuro ward with just th IV in her wrist. A nurse brought a wheelchair over and when Alex saw it, she said, “I don’t need that, I’ll walk.” The nurse said she would wheel it along just in case, but Alex told her to leave it there for someone who needed it. I told you she was persistent. LOL
Monday morning a few different doctors came in and asked Alex how she was feeling. Her pain level was a three (or at least that’s what she told them because she wanted out) so discharge papers were started. Discharge always takes time so they brought Alex her morning meds and she drifted off to a well needed sleep.
Through this entire journey, through all the unknowing what will be next and through all the severe pain that Alex has endured, not once has she complained. I am so proud of how strong-willed and determined she is and how many hearts she has touched with her sweetness.
Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes that have been sent to Alex and us , that is what helped get us has through. God has answered them!
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