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

 

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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!

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We all love Jersey Mike Subs and a new store recently opened near her home so that was our Tuesday meal since it was the last day she could eat before surgery. Look at the size of the giant sub next her Alex’s fist. For a tiny girl, she inhales a giant sub in no time! LOL

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.

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I had researched the InterNerve as this is how the surgeon knows which nerve affects different parts of the body and whether a certain nerve will possibly cause paralysis. They start by hooking up leads to her wrists and ankles to monitor the nerves during surgery. This is a link to the blog I wrote about how the InterNerve Monitoring works.

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.

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It was now time for Alex to head to surgery.  Up to this point, our emotions were doing okay as Alex was covered in her beautiful prayer quilt, but as we hugged and kissed her, reality set in. Her beautiful eyes welled up with tears but I stayed strong and didn’t let my heart-strings get in the way of my tear ducts…… until I got out of the room and headed to the waiting room.  It was then when reality really set in and  I had a mini melt down as she was wheeled away.

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.

http://www.adjuvancy.com/AlexTumor.jpg

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.

http://www.adjuvancy.com/AlexBackWBandage.jpg

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.

 

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Hubby and I stayed in the ICU waiting room, again watching the clock tick away until we could go back in to see her at 5:00 AM. Seeing her in so much pain, just broke my heart.  As if all the tubes and drains she had wasn’t enough, they now had to insert a tube down her nose to her stomach.  I know the feeling since I had this procedure done and it hurts even without having all the other tubes and drains that Alex had.  As hubby and I were waiting in the hall for this to be completed, just hearing Alex cry in pain was too much for me to hear and I had melt down number two.  We went back in the room, I gently stroked her head and once again told her how much we 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.

 

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When this was completed, her color was better and she made it over this hurdle.  Because her pain was high, she didn’t sleep well so when she finally fell asleep Friday afternoon, the nurse closed the door and pulled the curtain so the noise wouldn’t bother her.  Rich and I sat there watching our precious granddaughter get some well needed sleep to help her body begin to heal.

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.

 

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In the bag was a beautiful card and a little stuffed monkey wearing scrubs that said, “Hang In There….Feel Better.” Nurse Shelby said she has never had a patient melt her heart like Alex has.  The little monkey was so adorable and he actually made Alex smile through all her pain.

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

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Once she got to the room,  all her “friends were on the end of the bed for her to visit with.  She had a few bears, a monkey and a penguin to keep her company.  She also had the prayer quilt that got her through the surgery and some cool “paw socks.  When she met with the nurses on the 9th floor, they gave her some meds and she fell asleep.

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.

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Before long, her lunch was delivered and she woke up shortly after to eat, still wanting to get out. Soon the nurse came in, removed her last IV and she was ready to go.  But this time they made her ride in style in the wheelchair as hubby and I went ahead to get the truck.  We stopped at the drug store to fill her prescriptions and got her settled in at her home. Her hospital ordeal was over but now for the long road to recovery.

 

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I found the perfect necklace for Alexandra with a heart-shaped pendant saying, “Granddaughter you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.  The saying is perfect for her and since she loves penguins, I also found an adorable two foot penguin to wear the necklace until Alex can wear it.   With all that Alex has gone through so far, even though her recovery will be about six months, she is so determined with her spirit and drive while enduring severe pain with the healing of her muscles, nerves, bones and everything else that was displaced during her surgery. I love her so much.

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This is a link of Alex’s journey from when her tumor was first discovered:  The Long Journey 

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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Martha Demeo

I started my blog to review products. Since then it has evolved and now I teach people how to earn money online from the comfort of their home. Join the conversation. Leave a comment below.

16 Discussion to this post

  1. Andria Perry says:

    I wish Alexandra a full recovery!

  2. Sandy KS says:

    I am glad your granddaughter made it through surgery. I have been praying since I first learned about it all. I will continue to pray til she is completely healed.

  3. terry says:

    wow grab the tissues!!! Go Alex!! ((HUGS))

  4. So glad to see good tidings. After this week, we can use all we can find!

  5. Alexandra says:

    SO, while that week DID suck, I will say.. highlights:
    90% of the doctors/nurses kept referring to you as my parents, lol.
    you guys have come up more this year alone, than like, forever combined, lol.
    AND we got lots of free food, lmao.

    also.. I did complain.. it was just in the form of yelling “I wanna go home now! gonna walk out now, k? i’m fiiine, byyye” lol 😂

    I’m just glad I had my awesome grandparents there the whole time. I had several doctors prior to and after surgery ask “you’re so young, where are your parents?” to which I replied “eh, they won’t be coming. iv got my grandparents tho, so I’m fine!” 😁

    also, I’d like to thank everybody who kept me in their prayers, worked on/signed my prayer quilt, emailed me, sent me cards or packages, or cared enough to check into my Ma’s blog these past few months just to see how I was doing. you guys are awesome and I really appreciate it! 😃😃😃

  6. Martha says:

    Thanks Andria. Alex is determined and a fighter.

  7. Martha says:

    Thanks Sandy. It’s been a long 6 months of testing and appointments, now on to the recovery process. She’s a tough one and will continue to push her way to full recovery.

  8. Martha says:

    Thanks Roy, she’s a fighter and will continue to heal for a complete recovery. Thanks again for helping me with the photo links!

  9. Martha says:

    Rich and I are so proud of all that Alex has endured Terry. She even had the doctors and nurses in awe as to how independent she was, even through all the pain/ (Me, I probably would have crawled in a corner and cried the entire time LOL) She is one in a million in our book! Thanks for stopping by and sending hugs Terry.

  10. Martha says:

    WOW, now I need a tissue! We’re only as awesome as you are and your strength got us through. You will never know (and I probably won’t ever) how large your “family” is. So many kind and caring people have been with you and ussince the beginning of this. I love you so much Alex and while pop and I made many trips up, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We will never abandon you. <3

  11. Carol Taylor says:

    What a brave young lady …I wish her a speedy recovery and future good health. With all the love that surrounds her and the sheer force and determination she has I am sure she will be up and running sooner than predicted. Much love to you all 🙂

  12. You are awesome. So strong and be well. (Wish I could pop a little heart here.)

  13. Martha says:

    I am so proud of Alexandra with her spirit and determination through this entire ordeal. After going through this, she can beat anything. Thanks for visiting Carol.

  14. Martha says:

    Thanks Lorelei, I am so proud of my granddaughter and all she has been through without any complaining. She is a fighter and is so determined to get back to her daily routines and work. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Glenda Cates says:

    What a beautiful story and she is such a pretty young lady.
    I hope she is doing well now and I enjoyed the story and
    getting to know you all a little bit better.

  16. Martha says:

    Thanks Glenda, Alex has been through so much since May be her spirit is always high. She is our wonder woman and super girl all wrapped in one. 🙂 She is improving daily, still has a ways to go, but she’s strong and determined.

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