It Was A Good Day
It was a good day. Harte’s oncologist didn’t have to remove as much tissue as he expected,so he and the plastic surgeon were able to use a donor tissue graft instead of transplanting tissue from her arm. Without the transplant, they didn’t need a skin graft from her leg to close her arm.
The smaller amount of work in her mouth meant less swelling, so she’s able to breathe without a tracheotomy. She’s being fed with a tube through her nose, rather than the more invasive feeding tube into her stomach they had planned.
The biggest news is that the surgical team feels confident that they got the cancer, with healthy margins that will be the key to Harte living a long life. They did take some of the lymph nodes from her neck, giving her the only real scar she has. (Since we’re at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, they added that this incision was made on a skin fold.) The oncologist said a few of them were swollen, but that none seemed to be cancerous. We’ll know forsure when the pathology report comes back in 3-5 days.
With the smaller surgery, Harte could get out of the hospital in 4-5 days, instead of the 7-10 that they planned. Also, I’m writing this blog post from her private room (with a private nurse—thanks, Shelby and Lee!), rather than the ICU that they had planned.
All of the above means that Harte will be able to speak and swallow much sooner than we had planned. Any specific questions on timing get the “it depends” answer that is only reasonable. It sounds like months has become weeks.
She’s asleep now.
She’s not able to talk, so she writes what she wants. The doctors plan on getting her up and walking tomorrow. Starting to use her modified (and cancer free!) tongue will be a few days away.
There are a million more details, mostly good. Like the excitement of the two surgeons when they felt sure this smaller surgery would work. And the kindness of the entire surgical staff at Cedars-Sinai, especially the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Bruce Gewertz.
On a more personal note, I’m moved by how loving and generous Lee and Shelby have been during this process, including on that first awful call Harte and I made to tell them the pathology said Harte has cancer. Among the many things they have done, they are watching Daphne and Pepper so I can spend the night with Harte to make sure she is comfortable.
Again…it was a good day. There will be lots of ups and downs, but today was a very good day.