Surgery Followup

Warning: This post gets just a little graphic when discussing the details of my surgery.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was scheduled for surgery at the end of June to remove the cancerous tumor in my leg. I thought the couple of you who were interested might want an update.

(That’s gentle sarcasm, by the way. I was blown away by how many people commented, posted, and e-mailed with their kind thoughts and well-wishes. I’ve tried to take a pretty equanimous approach to this whole cancer thing, but when it gets overwhelming I take comfort from all the wonderful, generous people who have sent their support.)

So. The surgery went well. I was in the OR for four or five hours with an orthopaedic surgeon (Dr. Jones) and a reconstructive surgeon (Dr. Klein). The tumor was larger than they expected – about 6 inches long and roughly oblong – and Dr. Jones had to remove not just all of my sartorius muscle but also pieces of other muscles as well.

Although the plan was to do a wide-margin incision – where they cut a decent distance around the tumor in order to make absolutely sure they got everything – Dr. Jones ran up against tendons and nerves and things and had to cut a bit closer than he liked. Luckily, lab tests of the excised margins came back clear, though – meaning that he did get all of the tumor.

And oddly, the size of the tumor actually worked well for closing up the wound. Instead of needing to do a flap (i.e. move other muscles around) and a skin graft to cover everything, Dr. Klein was able to more or less stitch me right up. Let’s hear it for avoiding a skin graft! I will have an impressive scar, however. The hideous-looking incision runs a full 12 inches down the inside of my left thigh, from a bit below my groin to just past my knee.

I also have two holes an inch or so away from the top end of the incision where the tubes for the Jackson-Pratt drains go into my leg. These are pretty clever little devices, basically just a plastic bulb on the end of a flexible tube. They drain fluid from the internal site – in my case, where my muscles used to be – via a combination of capillary action, gravity, and primarily suction in order to help keep swelling down and speed healing.

As useful as they are, though, the drains are less than fun. I don’t mind emptying the fluid a couple times a day – although Eric shudders whenever I talk about what he calls my ‘blood bags’, they really aren’t that disgusting. No, the problem is that there are plastic tubes, each about a centimeter in diameter, sprouting directly from my flesh. My poor leg keep trying – and failing – to heal around the insertion points.

It wasn’t too bad at first, but ever since I got tangled up in the tubes and inadvertently pulled on one it feels like someone stabbed a pen into my leg … and keeps twisting it. Last week, Dr. Klein removed the upper drain. With luck the lower drain can come out next week. In the meantime, there is Vicodin.

Other than the drains, I haven’t had much pain. And I’ve been flat-out amazed at how quickly I’ve gotten function back. When I left the hospital, I was technically able to walk (i.e. limp-shuffle-limp) with the aid of a walker. Two weeks later, I can sit, stand, and walk more or less normally. My knee is still a little stiff but that’s more swelling than anything else. And I have to be careful not to stretch too fast in the wrong direction or I’ll tear the incision. Overall, however, the remaining muscles have taken over for my missing muscles without too much fuss.

So I feel  pretty good, all told … almost. Because the fact is, no matter how much I want to get back to my normal life – to drive, to work, to shower (and did I mention I’m not allowed to shower until the drains are out? I am so sick of sponge baths!) – whenever I try to do these things, my body tells me “No!” in no uncertain terms. I get tired. I get lightheaded. I break out in a cold sweat. I pass out.

Yesterday evening, I decided to seize my recovery by the throat and coerced Eric into helping me shower. Good thing he agreed to help, too, so he was on hand to get me to the bed when I collapsed.

And it’s not just the “big” things like showering or the disastrous trip to the store, either: everything tires me out. Even this post has taken me days to write. I can’t sit at my computer desk for more than about fifteen minutes before I start feeling lightheaded. Speaking of which, I think I need to go lay down for a bit …

I am so frustrated by my limitations right now. Incredibly happy to be in one piece and presumably healthy, but so incredibly frustrated. Eric keeps pointing out that it’s only been a few weeks since a pretty major surgery, but man – I just want to be able to stand up long enough to shower.

Ah, well. At least it’s getting better. Maybe by next week I’ll have enough energy to play WoW …

46 thoughts on “Surgery Followup

  1. Jheric

    I’m so glad your surgery went well! When MoP news comes out, if it’s remotely pet-related it makes me think of you and I’d been wondering how you were doing, so thank you for taking the time and energy to post this update.

    I had a (comparatively extremely minor) procedure about a decade back and had drains in the incision site for only a few days after. Ah, blood bags. I’m rooting for the remaining one to come out soon, and I hope you have an uncomplicated recovery from all of this.

    Much internet <3 from me, and I'll be linking my roommate here when she gets off work. She has a hunter main, and I know she's been worried about you too.

  2. Borogrove

    You just take care of yourself. From all your silent readers over the years, I think I can say we understand and we and the game will still be here when you feel up to it. Take a well-deserved break and just recover!

    *sends psychic heavy embersilk bandages your way*

  3. Darkbrew

    Glad to hear the surgery went well. Now let’s hope that is the end of it.

    Years ago I doctors found a tumor in my left tibia. I had two recurrences before they finally killed it. It’s been 16 years now.

    On behalf of the Hunting Party Podcast I wish you a speedy recovery!

  4. Petal / Jonquil

    So glad to hear an update and that you are doing better. Time will bring you more and more energy and the ability to get more done and back to normal (or a new normal). More internet love and energy sent your way! ^_^

  5. Wain

    *hugs* I’m so glad you’re getting normal movement back so quickly! Considering the muscle they had to remove I’m not surprised you’re so tired. Your body will be tied up trying to repair it. Plus anaesthetic can some times take weeks to get over.

    Thanks for the update and take care of yourself! I hope you at lest have enough energy to play WoW soon! :)

  6. Suzi

    I’m so glad the surgery went well! I wish I had been one of the people that had left you a message before, but I thought I had. I’m sorry about that, because I meant to say something.

    I hope you get plenty of rest and will just take it easy for a while. We all miss you very much, but we want you to get better! Take care, Mania.

  7. Awesomemom

    I am so glad that your surgery went well. It is always sucky to be down and out but try to relax and let your body heal, pushing things will not help anything go faster. I am sending lots of fast recovery thought your way.

  8. Zonian

    I’m so glad the surgery went well! My sister is going to have a double mastectomy soon so hearing that cancer surgeries are successful lifts my heart. Thank you for sharing what you are going through.

    Take care.

  9. scott_h

    I am really glad to hear your surgery went well. I can imagine it is pretty frustrating not being able to do much right now, hopefully that won’t last long and you will be up and around soon.

  10. Alsoome

    I love your website and use it when i need! So sorry to hear about the cancer but thank god everything came out ok! Wishing you as speedy recovery! *hugs*

  11. Guntitan

    Mania. I had to stop reading after the first few paragraphs. So graphic. I am glad you are okay. My thoughts are prayers are always with you. Love, Guntitan.

  12. Saphia

    So glad to hear your update. You are in all our thoughts and prayers. Maybe try to think of your frustration that it is your body saying, “I know I am getting better, I’m just impatient.” I think keeping that mental attitude of being frustrated might be a good thing because it will give you the energy to keep improving once your body has caught up on the healing after the surgery. And considering how long it can take to heal after fairly minor surgery, this was something MAJOR and you have every right to be worn out and dizzy.

  13. Kaopattai

    Been there done that. I know what you are going thru. Go slow, overdoing will set you back. Slow and steady is what my docs told me and it got me back on my feet faster than i thought. My prayers are with you, get well Mania.

  14. Loronar

    It’s good to hear from you again, Mania. After reading the previous post I’ve been wishing everything goes well. I’ll be praying for a speedy recovery, though it’s more important that you recover well than fast.

  15. Jangalian

    They removed a CHUNK of muscle. Your body needs time to heal. If a bear had taken that out of your leg, you would have bled to death! I’m really happy that you’re doing *mostly* well, so just be patient, and let things heal. :)

  16. Bulletdance

    So glad to hear that you’re doing okay despite all the problems. I have fibromyalgia so I can relate with the feeling so tired you can’t do much even little tiny things you want,but it gets better and trust me just hang in there because when you finally are able to again and you will get there, you’ll have that happy giddy feeling you get like when you tame a rare for weeks. Don’t worry about the scar either I’ve got a couple big ones on my side from a lung surgery I was so afraid I’d hate them or be embarassed, but I turned out to be rather proud of them. I see them and think “well I survived that anything else is just little stuff.” Get well soon, we’re all keeping you in our hearts/prayers.

  17. nanabear

    will be keeping you in my prayers and you behave yourself dearheart. don’t push yourself too hard or your gonna just take longer to heal. so glad your home and doing very well it seems. just relax u will be back to all the *normal* things before you know it!

  18. Snikersnack

    On behalf of all the lurkers like me it’s good to hear that things went well. I’ve loved your sites from the first day I found them and always enjoy reading the forum posts. And I agree with the others, take a well deserved rest, and when you get back every hunter out there will throw you a party in Dalaran! Just focus on making every day better than the one before and you’ll be healed in no time.

  19. Ian

    Mania I’m really happy that things have gone well. Keep positive and I’m sure you’ll be back pet taming soon.

    Take care

    I

  20. Aybarra

    We love you and miss you, Mania. So by all means, take all the time you need to recover and all the time you want. Just try not to go crazy waiting for it. I know how rough sitting still and doing absolutely nothing can drive you bonkers, or being limited by what you cannot physically do during recovery. Keep in mind, the more you push it, the more you might hurt yourself long term. I have several things that never healed right for that reason (oh being young, stupid, and stubborn… i’m still 2 out of 3).

  21. Vazula

    You know, after all these years of using Petopia on a regular basis to help me find pets that I want, and pets that I need (but may not actually want, say, for example, ravagers, lol), I never really thought about the person BEHIND the site…in fact, I figured it was a group of people since it’s so well done and updated so regularly. Petopia is mine, and all my hunter friends, go-to site for all things hunter pet. And any new players I meet, I ALWAYS direct them to Petopia.
    So when I saw at the top of the Petopia front page, the note about updates being delayed, I became quite concerned. Not concerned for ME and my regular use of the site being interrupted, because that doesn’t matter, AT ALL. What concerned me, is that it became readily apparent for me that there IS a person there behind my beloved Petopia, and that there must only be one, and that person has something wrong with them. I can be rather intuitive…yes it does freak some people out (sorry). So now that I’ve clicked the link and read your two most recent posts, I have to say that, I’m sorry I didn’t think to look behind the source of Petopia sooner, and learn more about you before, because you’re awesome!
    I also want you to know that I’m SO glad your surgery went well, and I hope for your recovery to start speeding up and for you to start feeling better soon.
    Remember to take enough vitamins! B12 for energy, Iron can also help with feeling tired…and you probably need more Iron after what you’ve been through.
    Love and hugs from me!
    Beth – Vazula is my WoW character name :-)

  22. Penny Thomas

    Having had my own little issues of late (life is plan B as they say) I had totally missed your need for surgery! So glad to hear good news about the tumor, and glad the leg is progressing. One thing I might suggest to you is a shower chair or stool. You can pick those up at most any drugstore for a cheapo or go to a medical supply house for the Cadillac version. I’ve had 3 major surgeries myself and despise the spit bath method. (I mean really. How wet can you get with a sponge?) Not as good as standing with the water slooshing all over you but beats hell outta no shower at all! Take care, woman! Heal and God be with you!

  23. Azzrazzah

    I’m so glad to hear your on the mend.. Glad the surgery went well also.. Give yourself some time to recupperate.. The pets are waiting for you!! Huggz to you!!

  24. Mongolian

    All the best to ya m8y, and the scar on the leg will be nothing more than a war wound and you can gladley say the surgeon won the battle and you won the war! ;)

  25. wekurji

    We care about you. I am grateful for your dedication to the hobby I love. I have studied your website many times. I, along with all the friends you have made, wish you a speedy recovery. Thank you and God bless you.

  26. Akycha

    I am so glad to hear you are doing better. I’ve been on vacation so I missed this when you put it up.

    Recovery for something as invasive as that will take time. Eventually though your body will have enough energy left to do otherthings besides just healing.

  27. Ardawen

    Get well soon, i am glad the surgery went well. Take the time to recover, if you get annoyed sometimes reading can be a good distraction.

  28. Karathyriel

    Dunno if you remember me from the petopia forums (the german guy) but when I stumbled over the news I was shocked. Glad to see you coming back around again.
    Wish you all the best and hail the forum for me, if there are still people remembering me.

  29. Araela

    So glad to hear that you are doing okay Mania!I had two brain surgeries a few years ago, 3 months apart, and it was amazing to me then how much support one will find of friends in the gaming community online! Prayers continuing to head your way for swift healing and a clean bill of health! Thanks for all that you do regarding the wow-petopia site. It has been my favorite resource and I know that those of us who utilize it are truly grateful to you!

  30. yoobroo

    im-glad-to-hear-your-doing-ok.i-really-hope-things-are-better-from-now-on.Ive-been-using-this-site-for-years-now-thanks-soo-much.just-focus-on-your-health-and-make-a-speedy-recovery.

    much-love
    (srry-bout-broken-keyboard-:(

  31. Pingback: I Have a Tumor | Mania's Arcania

  32. Carola

    I wish you all the best. Hugs from a retired hunter. (I still visit Petopia once in a while, even though I no longer play WOW).

  33. Nick

    I hope you get well soon. I know that most people have no experience with true illness (thankfully), and are surprised by how weak it makes the sick person. Before we defeated disease people would get small pox or tuberculosis and be so weak they were bed ridden as are you. Never fear this means that the human body is build to recover from this. You WILL get BETTER. Wishing you the best, Nick Beeson

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