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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A new doc, a new iPhone user

I met my surgeon on Friday.

Dr. Joseph Boyer (photo at right from Florida Hospital's Web site) not only is a nice guy who seems extremely qualified to cut out my tumor, but he also is very open and explained exactly what will happen when and after I go under the knife.

I was surprised to learn how complex the procedure is, and as a cardiovascular surgeon as well as head of the thoractic surgical team for cancer patients, he explained that the procedure actually is more difficult -- and dangerous -- than open-heart surgery. Heart surgery generally has a mortality rate of 1 percent to 2 percent, give or take. This operation overall has mortality into the 20 percent range, though his rate is "in the single digits." It involves two incisions, one to the upper abdomen and one to the right side.

Dr. Boyer said he did a similar surgery on a woman about my age just the other day, and she's doing fine. He did, however, explain how he lost a patient a little over a year ago, but he was 78 and had other medical issues. I think I'll make it through the operation pretty well, given my age and overall health.

My woes, I fear, will begin after the surgery. I'll have a tube down my nose and into my stomach to allow stomach gasses to escape without disrupting the surgical zone. The first day I'll be intubated. I'll have a button to press to provide me with those really good pain relievers every six minutes.

Day two, the tube comes out of my throat, so I'll breathe on my own. But eating will be through a j-tube, which will replace the g-tube now in my stomach. After that, the recovery will take up to two weeks in the hospital followed by several weeks of recovery before I can return to work. Dr. Z's office now estimates I'll be back in the saddle at work late January to early February.

The surgery itself involves cutting my esophagus to about a third of its size and bringing the stomach up to join with the newly reduced organ. My stomach, by the way, will be modified by being shaped more like a tube than a stomach. Dr. Boyer said that in time I'll be able to stretch it out to be very similar to its original form. Sort of like the results of a gastric bypass, I will have to eat smaller meals more often at first. Eventually, that might not be the case.

On the lighter side, I noticed Dr. Boyer is an iPhone user, and when we mentioned to him that Dr. Z likewise used the high-tech gadget, he had a message for my favorite oncologist. "Tell Dr. Z he's a copycat. I had it first."

Not sure if Dr. Boyer knows of my running gag with Dr. Z over his iPhone, so it was fun to get ammunition from one of the good doctor's colleagues. Heh, heh, heh.


Anonymous said...

Keith, I am thinking of you and praying for you and your family. I hope that your good days outnumber the bad going forward and that your surgery goes well. I will be back here checking on you.

Kris Hey

Keith W. Kohn said...

Thanks Kris,

I'm sure things will work out. The docs are all top-notch and I will return. Count on it!