(Warning: This blog post is non-technical but purely personal. I write openly about my current health issues. This blog might be triggering for people who struggle with, or lost dear ones to, cancer and other similar diseases.)
This is the eighth post in a series on my personal road from first signs of leukemia, through diagnosis and treatment, to, hopefully, full recovery. Click here to read all posts in this series.
Kidney gone, cancer gone
It’s been almost a month since my last health update, here on my blog. High time to share the current status.
Only thing of real importance that has happened during this month, but it was a big thing. My kidney surgery. I wrote in my previous update that this procedure was scheduled for December 5th. And it has been executed as planned.
I can not tell anything about the procedure at all. After a period where all kinds of preparation work was done, I was brought into the operating room, where I was brought under full anesthesia … and then I woke up in the recovery room with an immense pain in my stomach area. As soon as I was awake, nurses were there for me with strong pain killers, and shortly after the pain was reduced to a manageable level.
I was released from the hospital after two nights, on December 7th. With enough of the “good” pain killers to last until the weekend. After that, I had to manage the pain on my own, or with some paracetamol (acetaminophen) if and as needed.
I still have pain on the location of the largest of my operation wounds. (They made three small holes to gain access to my insides with their instruments and cameras, but in order to remove the kidney from my body they had to make a much larger cut just below my pot belly). Not a lot of pain, as long as I don’t strain myself too much, but it’s certainly noticeable, all the time. I’ve been told that this can last for up to four weeks.
The two weeks that have passed since my release from the hospital were completely uneventful. I spend a part of my day trying to rebuild my stamina and help my muscles grow back after they have been unused for too long during my second round of chemotherapy. That started with really short walks, just around the house block. But I can now do walks of over three kilometers, sometimes even two per day (if the weather permits); plus I do small tasks in the household.
The rest of the day I spend either eating (my wife makes sure to keep me on a constant supply of small and large meals … needed because I had lost quite a few pounds in hospital and the doctors really want me to regain that lost weight), or lying on the couch, usually with my phone in hand to scroll Twitter or the news, or watch some video.
Does that sound lazy? Perhaps. But I don’t care. My body is recovering. Rebuilding. That takes energy, so I will take a moment (or two, or three) to rest whenever my body tells me to rest.
Things are gearing up
However, that period of relative quiet is about to end. This week, I had to have blood drawn for lab research, I have two phone consults with two doctors, and on Friday I’m going to see the urologist who removed my kidney (probably to inspect how the wounds heal and other checks), and go for a CT-scan of my heart. Then in January I’ll be similarly busy, with lots of other phone consults, doctor appointments, and all kinds of examinations of various bodily functions.
Most of that is all in preparation for the next big step in the treatment of my leukemia. After two rounds of chemotherapy, my stem cells are now clean, based on examined blood samples. But there is no guarantee they stay clean. To minimize the chance of the leukemia returning, I will undergo a stem cell donation. A suitable donor has been found, and they have agreed to donate their stem cells. So somewhere in the second half of January (probably, if all the examinations show that I have recovered enough that I can safely undergo the procedure), I will once more go to the hospital, for a prolonged stay. Probably six weeks or so. During that stay, I will first receive a third round of chemotherapy, intended to kill off all my own stem cells (and any leftover traces of cancer that might now be lurking undetected in a hidden corner of my bones). After that I will receive the donor’s healthy stem cells.
More on that procedure in a later post.
For now, I wish everyone happy, and most of all healthy, Christmas and New Year. And if you don’t observe those holidays, then I still wish you happy and healthy days.