It is now 4pm. Debbi has been in the recovery room for about an hour. I was able to visit her once thus far and while she mentioned that she was in pain, I could tell that she was very happy when I reiterated the conversation I had had with Dr. Healey a few minutes earlier. Dr. Healey said that all went very well. He observed, in actuality, only what the scans and x-rays indicated. His surgery lasted about 3 hours (not including time spent by the anesthesiologist prior to Dr. Healey’s initial incision.)
Dr. Healey’s summary of the operation was exactly as he had described it to Debbi and I over the course of our earlier visits to his office. Move a muscle or two. Grind out the cancer from the juncture of the coracoid process and the glenoid. Freeze out any remaining cancer along the margins using liquid nitrogen. Use a pin or two along with some bone cement to put the shoulder back together while always being careful to preserve nerves and operational functionality. Then just close everything up leaving a drain for good measure. So simple… even a caveman could do it. OOPS… that is what they say in the GEICO ads.
“What happens from here?” was the next question I posed to Dr. Healey. He said the following:
Remember Jan, you have a team of top people on Debbi’s side. Let’s let her recover from the operation and then Drs. Zelefsky, Bajorin, Russo, and I will confer and probably Dr. Bajorin will then take the lead on a round of scans to evaluate where we stand at this point. I truly think all went very well and I am hoping and praying to G-d that she is now indeed cancer free.
In my book, you can’t get much better than that.
I am hanging out in the waiting room because I want Debbi to rest for a few hours and to receive the instant attention that only the recovery room staff can provide.
People here at MSKCC always amaze me. A nurse named Josefa Walten, who assisted us prior to the KIDNEY surgery two weeks ago, just came to find me in the waiting room to ask how Debbi was doing. She had seen Debbi’s name on the surgery schedule and wanted to make sure I would let Debbi know that she was thinking of her and wanted to send a special hug and kiss along with her love to my dear wife.
Also, as I was proceeding to the recovery room to see Debbi, I was in the elevator with a nurse practicioner named Aida Milcetic. Aida is a key member of the Pain Team and played an special role in figuring out that Debbi was not getting the proper dosage of Fentanyl during our previous stay. I introduced myself to Aida and expressed gratitude for her assistance during our last visit. Not being timid, I asked Aida to accompany me to see Debbi and asked to have Debbi’s name added to the list for which the Pain Team makes special rounds. Aida informed me that she will be working daytime hours for the rest of the week and will make sure to monitor the pain situation and stop in on Debbi each day.
It sure is helpful to get to know the individuals that are most responsible for the superior care here at Sloan Kettering. One never knows when their help will be useful and appreciated in the future and addressing these stellar individuals by name seems to go quite a long way.