A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had reached the two-year anniversary of the day my physician diagnosed pancreatic cancer. Now, yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the surgery for it, the Whipple procedure.
Only about 10 percent of people with this diagnosis are eligible for the surgery. It took 12 hours. The Mayo Clinic explains in brief what it is:
”A Whipple procedure — also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy — is a complex operation to remove the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder and the bile duct.”
There is more to it, but I've left out some of the information and I am asking you, if you know more, not fill in what's missing in that definition.
Almost always, I am a realist. In pretty much every case in my life, I have wanted to know what is real and true. But there are details I don't need until I need them. So keep any additional information you have to yourselves please.
I've published this photo before but for those of you who missed it, here is what I looked like the morning after the surgery, in intensive care.
It is one of the great good things in life that, mostly, we are out cold during surgery and have no memory of what happened. Those shots in medical TV dramas of doctors and nurses mucking about inside patients' bleeding torsos are scary enough. I cover my eyes when they turn up.
[Related side-issue: I am impressed, however, with the props used in those surgery dramas. They're good enough to put me off from watching more.]
Following the surgery, I spent at least four months, give or take, recovering from it. It took a long, long time and I have realized that I'd not paid close enough attention when the surgeon explained what he would do and what the consequences would be for me.
I had no idea it would be as difficult as it was – it is the hardest thing I've ever done and not something you soon forget.
But. Undoubtedly, a big reason I am still here is due to that surgery along with the excellent care I have received since then.
We bake cakes for birthday celebrations, set off fireworks on the Fourth of July and New Years, give gifts to our spouses on wedding anniversaries and cook a big meal on Thanksgiving. But what about surgery anniversaries?
It's probable that most people want to forget them but I think I'll go buy myself some flowers today. The girl in that photo above could sure use some.