Sunday, September 14, 2014

Todd's Surgery

I've been wanting to share this personal experience for a while, but I keep waiting to see how things pan out before posting it on the blog. It's been a couple of months now that I scheduled an appointment with my dermatologists for Todd to have a mole in his arm checked out.

He had already had a mole removed from that same spot about ten years ago and over time the mole had re-appeared. It is in his upper arm, concealed by his sleeves, so not noticeable most of the time. I've been encouraging him to have it checked out, but you know men and doctors... they rarely meet willingly.

During the examination the dermatologist suggested he had the mole removed. He was not too concerned about it, but wanted a biopsy done to rule out any problems.

On July 2nd, during his follow up visit to remove the stitches he was told that the mole had tested positive for Melanoma, a less common but the most deadly kind of skin cancer if not found early. We had scheduled a long weekend trip to celebrate the 4th of July with the kids. It was an emotional trip. We had been hit with the news out of nowhere. All we had was a printout of the doctor's report in medical lingo, which didn't clarify much for us. So we had a lot of questions, and had to wait until after the holiday to even schedule an appointment with the oncologist.

On Monday, August 25th, Todd went to the University of Utah to be injected with a blue die that  identifies the lymph channels associated with his upper arm. The procedure is called Lymphangiogram. He was injected in three spots which were marked by an X with a black sharpie.

The next  day Todd went in for surgery at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I accompanied him for the operation. After checking in, and paying a hefty deductible, we were admitted into the pre-op area where he met with nurses, the anesthesiologists and the oncologist performing the surgery. He was told to change out of his regular clothes and to put on a hospital gown and a cap. They had a really cool inflatable blanket they laid on his legs, attached to a machine blowing warm air through a 4 inch wide hose. I think it was designed for children, because the logo on the machine and blanket was a little teddy bear. It was really nice, except it didn't cover Todd's feet, so he never got really warm.

Almost as soon as we got there, a fourth year medical student and an Anesthesiology resident came to take Todd's history, explain their part in the procedure and to place the IV in Todd's left hand. They IV contained fluids and antibiotic to prevent infection.

Although I know this was really stressful for Todd, he kept joking with doctors and staff about the situation, both before and after the surgery.

The surgery consisted of a 6 inch long incision in his deltoid to remove any tissue surrounding the mole, and a smaller cut under his armpit to extract the four lymph nodes connected with the area affected by the melanoma.

The actual surgery took less than an hour. Shortly after the surgery I met with the oncologists in the consultation room. He informed me that the procedure had gone very well, and that the lymph nodes looked to be healthy to the naked eye. They, together with the tissue were sent to be biopsied, but healthy lymph nodes are pliable and clear in color, and that is how Todd's were.

He was in the recovery room for an hour coming out of anesthesia and we had to wait two more hours after I was allowed to join him before he was discharged.

The card ride made him really nauseated. We were both really glad when we pulled into the garage.
It took a week for the results from the tissue extracted to come back. We found out the surgery removed the entire melanoma and that the lymph nodes were healthy.

After being married for 13 years, I thought I knew most everything about Todd. This experience has shown me a new side of him I hadn't experienced until now. The way he kept his composure during stressful times, such as when he joked with the medical staff at the hospital before surgery, make me love him even more. I am so blessed to have such an amazing husband and father to my kids.

I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who grants us the peace we need to get through whatever trial comes into our lives. I know He lives and He loves me and you!