Recovery – Day 12

By God’s grace Janet’s recovery is on track, with a few bumps in the road. The main problem of the last 3 days has been pain in her throat. It’s been quite painful to swallow so it’s been hard to get her oral nutrition up to the level where they can withdraw the naso-gastric feeding tube. It’s a bit of a dilemma, as one of the big sources of her discomfort is the tube. Slowly her oral intake has increased (as the pain management has been fine-tuned) to the point where they have stopped the input through the feeding tube and if everything is OK in the next 24 hours, it will be taken out. This will be a huge relief to her (as it was last time she had one 40 years ago!), so we’re trusting it will be all good for tomorrow.

We’re so thankful for the attentive, caring and professional staff at Peter Mac. It has to be one of the best hospitals around.

The surgeons are pretty pleased with the result of the surgery and the incisions are healing well. There’s still a way to go, but praise God for good progress so far.

Please pray for the pain in her throat to subside as the tube comes out and as her trache heals. Thank you so much for all your messages, support and prayer. We really appreciate it.

Recovery – Day 9

By the grace of God and a lot of excellent attention, treatment and TLC from the staff at Peter Mac, Janet has progressed a lot in the last 3 days. All the tubes are out, except the naso-gastric feeding tube. They are planning to take this out as soon as Janet is able to get enough nutrition orally (hopefully in the next few days). The surgical teams are very happy with her progress and have given the OK for her to go home. The physios, speech pathologist and dietician aren’t so keen on discharging her so soon. They would like her to be more mobile and have her pain under control a bit more before she leaves. Janet is happy with this, as swallowing is still painful (where they removed the trache from is still healing) and her leg is still settling.

Yesterday I was able to wheel her out into the roof garden. She was so happy to be out in the sunshine and seeing all the beautiful spring flowers there. It really is an incredible hospital.

2 of the cards she got yesterday from friends had Lamentations 3:22-24 quoted them. It’s such a comforting message at times like this with thankfulness in the midst of pain.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Thank you for your love and care.

Please thank God for his goodness and faithfulness.

Please pray for

  • Janet’s throat and leg to heal and the flap to continue to settle.
  • Her pain management to work well.
  • Wisdom for the allied health team for when she should be discharged.

Recovery – Day 6

The roller-coaster continues, but the trend is definitely upwards. Over the last 2 days Janet’s tummy has settled and they are slowly ramping up the liquid diet, after a day off it. The tests they were doing to eliminate weird possibilities turned up nothing, so all good there. Friday night’s sleep was a good one, and yesterday she had a good day (Matt visited instead of me. We’re allowed one visitor per day). Last night she didn’t sleep well, so was quite exhausted and weary when I visited this morning. It’s so busy in there! People checking and adjusting meds and treatments; assessments being made about what tubes can be pulled out when. Today they took out one of the drains to the wound in her leg. They also took off the on-demand pain-relief line and button. Tomorrow they will probably take out the tracheostomy, which will be a great relief, as talking really tires her with it in. They are also talking about taking out some of the stitches from the incisions in her face.

Today she was able to sit in a chair for several hours and get to the bathroom using a walker. She’s so pleased to be on the move again, even if it’s only a few metres.

She really appreciates hearing your messages of concern and care. We both feel overwhelmed by your love, expressed in so many ways. Sarah and I are about to enjoy a meal provided by friends from church. We are so blessed to have such kind friends and family.

Today I read Psalm 46 with Janet. It begins like this:

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear….:

And ends with:

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

(It’s a good read, if you’re not familiar with it).

It’s great to be re-assured of God’s power and nearness. How blessed we are!

Please continue to give thanks for all the above.

Please pray for a good night’s sleep and for continued healing and mobility.

Recovery day 4

Thanks for all your kind messages and expressions of love and support. We really appreciate each one of you. We’re especially thankful to God for hearing and answering our prayers.

As the surgeon predicted, the last couple of days have been steady progress, but challenging. Lots of (necessary) interruptions on night 2 meant Janet didn’t get much sleep. She slept better last night, but has developed an upset tummy (probably from the meds or the change in diet – liquid through a nose-tube into the stomach). She’s had nausea and vomiting which is very uncomfortable with a tracheostomy. The doctors are trying to get on top of this, doing various tests to make sure there’s not something weird going on (they’re 99% sure there isn’t). Her electrolytes are a bit affected, so they are trying to correct that.

The good news is that the flap re-construction is settling very well (Janet is a star patient according to the plastic surgeon). The blood supply is strong and the incisions are healing well. The swelling is beginning to go down. The place where the flap was taken out of her leg is sore but healing. She has been able to stand a couple of times and take some tiny steps.

Speaking is still very difficult and tiring (so not much point in trying to phone her). She would love to chat, but can’t. This may improve when the tracheostomy comes out early next week (hopefully), but she probably won’t be up to chatting for a while yet.

We are so thankful for all that God is doing in this. I am in awe of Janet’s courage and perseverance in the face of the challenges she’s facing and will face for some time yet.

Please:

Give thanks for

  • the healing that’s taking place as God knits the tissues together that the surgeon stitched up.
  • the incredible staff at the hospital – the care is first-rate.

Pray for

  • Janet’s tummy to settle and the feeding to stabilise.
  • Her electrolytes to become normal soon.
  • A good night’s sleep.

Recovery day 2

Short Version: After a fairly challenging 36 hours in recovery, Janet is now in the ward. She’s still having 1 on 1 nursing care, but is progressing well. Thank you for your ongoing prayer, care and love.

Longer Version: Janet’s time in recovery was fairly intense, with lots of checks, visits from physios, speech pathologists, dieticians, as well as the follow-up from the various teams involved in the surgery (ENTs, Plastics, Anaesthetics, etc). For the first 15 hours she was breathing totally through the tracheostomy (throat tube) and then yesterday morning they released the cuff/balloon that blocks the passage to the mouth so she could breathe through the tube and her mouth (much more comfortable). It also means she can speak with a hoarse whisper, which tires her but is better than writing everything out on an electronic slate. Yesterday morning they tried to get her out of bed and onto a chair briefly (with a view to transferring her to the ward in the afternoon), but she felt too dizzy when they sat her up, so back to bed. At this point they decided to keep her in recovery/HDU for another night. This morning she was well enough to be moved.

What a procedure! It took a full hour to unplug all the machines she’s attached to and then plug them in again at the other end to the journey down the corridor to the ward. She is now in a private room with her own dedicated nurse, and a view down to the Westgate bridge.

She is being fed through a naso-gastric tube with an all-in-one liquid diet. Hopefully she will transition to mouth-feeding before discharge, but the dietician assures me that if not, I could learn how to feed her at home. I would have to keep her away from the teapot – she’s longing for a cuppa! Her tummy is still getting used to the diet and a bit unsettled. She’s in good spirits considering everything. The plastic surgeon said that today would be the hardest, with the swelling at its peak. Hopefully it will decline in the next few days. When the tubes start coming out and she can get out of bed she will feel a whole lot better.

We are so thankful to God (and the generous tax-payers of Victoria!) to have such a marvellous hospital with such dedicated staff. Every detail is looked after and checked so thoroughly. When we think of what’s available in other parts of the world we have lived in we are extra grateful.

Please:

Give thanks that :

  • the flap is ‘taking’ and the blood supply is good (doppler checked about every 30 mins).
  • the care is so good – no infections

Pray for:

  • her stomach to settle
  • the incisions, graft sites and the flap to heal
  • stamina for her in all that’s happening.
  • the staff in all the details of caring for the complex needs of the recovery.

We thank God for his goodness to us – we don’t deserve it, but are so grateful for his grace and love, and for yours too. Thanks for all your messages and encouragement. Janet and the family join me in sending our love to you all.

PS: I’m trying to get the balance between keeping you informed and spamming you, so will update this every couple of days.

Thank God

Short version: She’s come through it well, praise God. Thanks for your loving support and prayers.

Longer version: At 8.15 this morning I saw Janet off into the operating theatre. Thank you for praying for her – she was very calm and at peace. The ENT assistant surgeon said he would call me around midday to let me know how the tumour removal had gone. It was 5pm before I got the call, telling me it had all gone well (the ENT team had to head off for another surgery before he could call me! It was rather tense waiting).

At 8.15pm I got a call from the main plastic surgeon saying that they had just finished the re-construction and she was heading off to recovery. The transfer of the bone and skin flap from her lower leg (fibula) went well (with skin graft to cover the site). They had to do microsurgery to connect up the blood vessels in the flap to vessels in her neck and then stitch the flap into the roof of her mouth and upper jaw. That took quite a while. All in all she was in theatre for over 11hours.

In the next few days they will be making sure all the muscles and nerves are working well.

It’s been a long day and we’re thankful that Janet has come through it OK. I’ve just (9.15pm) spoken with the nurse who is attending Janet in recovery and she said she’s doing really well. She responded with a nod and a smile when told I loved her and was very glad she had got through the op. She has a tracheostomy in and won’t be able to talk for a few days.

Give thanks for God’s goodness and faithfulness, for the skill of the surgical and nursing teams and for Janet’s stable condition throughout the op.

Please pray for the healing of the tissues, for the teams caring for her and for her ongoing peace and comfort. Pray for a good sleep for Janet (and everyone else!)

Thanks for all your expressions of love and care. We really appreciate each one of you.

Monday! Ready, set, go!

My pre-op Covid-19 test result is negative and we are quarantining until Sam and I leave for Peter Mac Cancer Centre on Monday for a 7am admission. I’m thankful Sam is allowed to be with me through that process before surgery and that I’m now allowed one family visitor once per day for 2 hours! 🤗 The operation will take about 10 hours and I’ll be in hospital for about 2 weeks, the first week (with a tracheostomy and tube feeding) being the toughest I expect.

I thank God that the 8 weeks waiting time has meant I am calmer and more prepared than earlier, but it is a huge challenge for our family and we really appreciate all the love, prayer, support, messages, cards and gifts (and future meals thanks to the church family). Thankyou so much. We are so grateful for your friendship and thankful to God for His steadfast love and His promise to be with us always no matter what is happening.

Love Janet and Sam

2 Weeks to go

We heard today that Janet’s surgery is confirmed for Monday 12th October. We’re very thankful for the extra time we’ve had, but are feeling relieved that the Covid cases are getting less, restrictions are being slowly lifted and the medicos are good to go.

Also, the restriction on visitors has eased, so that I will be able to visit Janet for an hour a day! The other bit of good news is that Janet is able to visit our grandkids for baby-sitting, until she has her pre-surgery Covid test next week.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We are very thankful to God for all his goodness and faithfulness.

Love,

Sam and Janet

October?

Thankfully Covid infection rates have reduced considerably in Melbourne due to our strict lockdown and today the state government announced the resumption of more surgery in the hospitals from late September as wards and ICUs are much freer again.

l also heard today that 5 of my 6 specialists/surgeons are available for my surgery in October (right maxillectomy and fibula graft). Once Prof Wiesenfeld has confirmed his availability they will send me word of an exact date.

I have really appreciated your messages of support and prayers as I’ve waited. Thanks heaps. This extra time has been a gift for me emotionally, spiritually and relationally and I’m very thankful for it.

I’m assuming we will need to isolate our household for the fortnight prior and have a Covid test before admission to Peter Mac Cancer Centre, as this was a requirement earlier.

We will let you know when we know the exact date of surgery.

Love

Janet and Sam

Delay!

I just heard from my surgeon that my surgery is postponed until after Stage 4 lockdown is lifted – maybe in 6 weeks or so. 

After surgery I will be sent to Peter Mac’s High Dependency Unit, which is very safe. However, there are 10 Covid patients in Royal Melbourne Hospital ICU and he’s worried about the possibility of me being sent there with a tracheostomy if something went wrong after surgery, requiring a second emergency surgery (10% chance). A tracheostomy in a Covid environment is an extra risk. He thinks it’s safer to delay until Stage 4 lockdown has finished and hopefully ICU would be a lot safer Covid-wise by then if I did need to go there. 

It’s a bit of an emotional roller-coaster but it’s good to know God is in control. So isolation has finished for us for a few weeks! 

Thanks so much for your support and prayers. We’ll update our blog when we have a new date.

Love

Janet and Sam

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