This morning, I am blogging on location from my hospital bed.
Glory to God my surgery went well. I had the cyst removed on Monday, which was a triple treat because not only was it the feast of the Holy Spirit, but the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner and our Geronda Ephraim’s birthday (just in case some of you don’t know, Geronda’s name before being tonsured what John, so he was born the same day as his patron saint)!
You all know how much I love those little mercies from God. I feel like it’s his way of reminding me that He is with me. Anytime anything big is scheduled, I run to the calendar to see what day it falls on.
The first surgeon who did my endoscopic ultrasound advised me to just leave it alone. He said the symptoms weren’t so problematic that it was worth such a major surgery. But when I went back to my regular GI doctor, he didn’t feel comfortable with that and recommended I schedule an appointment with a thoracic surgeon to get a second opinion. And thank God he did that because the thoracic surgeon recommended surgery immediately. He said it was already huge and the type of cyst that he thought it was had a tendency to grow quickly and surgery was ultimately inevitable. I felt comfortable with his decision because I’d heard he’s one of the best in this field. Also, the other doctor who is a thoracic/cardio surgeon is Greek Orthodox.
Of course, my family all tried to persuade me to let them come down and as much as I wanted them too, I knew that the time they’d need to take off to be here would be time they couldn’t take off when I go visit them in a few short weeks.
So, we came in Monday afternoon to have it removed. I prayed for the peace of Holy Spirit to wash over me and for Christ to send Panagia and Sts. Panteleimon and Nektarios to guide the doctors and nurses caring for me and to be at my side.
The surgery was just under 4 hours long and my one lung had to be collapsed in order to reach the back of my esophagus where the cyst was. Originally, back in November they told me the cyst was 5 cm. Before surgery they told me on the most recent cat scan it appeared to be larger, around 8 cm.
When they went in, the cyst was actually growing behind a major blood vessel to my heart. They had to divide the blood vessel and carefully cut the cyst out of the muscle behind my esophagus.
When they cut the cyst out of the muscle, they couldn’t believe how large it was. It was literally the size of a plastic easter egg! I hope you guys aren’t too grossed out by these pictures, but this was so crazy to me that I just had to share at least these two. Sorry, if I ruined your lunch.
When I stand up straight, it actually feels like something is missing from inside of my chest. I can’t believe that thing was inside of me. My sweet sister-in-law Maria, said I need to hang a picture of it on my refrigerator to remind myself of how mortal we really are. And it’s true.
The next morning, I woke up feeling a little achy from the incisions and they had to spread my rib cage a bit to make room to work. My throat is still pretty sore and I’m really hoarse from the tube that was down my throat during surgery. I still managed to facetime my parents and sis a couple of times though. I love that facetime makes it feel like they’re really here with me and I think them being able to see that I was really feeling good and not just saying that for their sake, put them at ease a little, too. I feel like a positive attitude makes all the difference. I could have easily sat here and depressed myself with the fact that they weren’t here and all of this was happening, but I just don’t believe in doing that. Things are only as bad as we allow them to be. We have to have faith that God will get us through what He brings us to and that He never gives us more than we can handle. We just have to toughen up and deal with it with joy and thankfulness. Find the silver lining. The joy in everything. The devil will always be right around the corner trying to bring us down but we have to fight him with prayer. He’ll get us every now and then that’s for sure but we have to take Christ’s outstretched hand and get back up.
I have four small incisions on my side, three from the surgery itself and one from the chest tube. The chest tube itself was pretty uncomfortable and needless to say I was very happy to have it removed yesterday afternoon. Considering everything that was done, I feel really good. There were a couple of moments where I became a little overwhelmed, like yesterday afternoon when I was dying of thirst and hunger. I hadn’t had a drink of anything for over 30 hours and food for almost 43 hours. They sent me for a test to make sure there were no leaks in my esophagus or lungs and told me if it all looked good I could have water. So, I went back to my room and called for a glass of water. In the meantime, I nodded off for a bit and when the nurse woke me up to tell me I had to wait for the doctor to give the ok, I got pretty annoyed. (See, the devil around my corner) It makes sense, I know, but at that point I got frustrated and started to cry a little. I’m such a baby, lol.
After two more hours, they finally brought me a cup of ice water and a few hours after that I got to feast on a cup of chicken broth and apple juice. Seriously, I had no idea chicken broth could taste so good. I was starving!!
Then, later on at dinner time, I got the dessert of all desserts. Lime Jell-O. I was officially a happy lady again. Now that I felt half human again, I took out my Bible and started doing a little Bible Study.
They will probably release me either later on today or tomorrow but I have strict orders not to do any lifting and to stay on my soft diet for two more weeks. Lots of smoothies and ice cream for me. Don’t you feel bad for me?
I am so grateful to everyone who helped me out through all of this. My doctors were the best, truly. DH was able to stay with me during the day because mom and dad-in-law and sis and bro-in-law (Valadou and George), came up to keep an eye on the kids. So, my boys were busy having playing with their cousins and not sitting at home worrying about me or being cooped up in the hospital room. George and Valadou planned a whole day full of fun activities like water balloon fights and homerun derbies. They all had such a blast! And two of my dearest friends, took turns spending the night with me so DH could be home with the boys.
My phone didn’t stop dinging with well wishes from all of my family and friends and it made me really happy to read all their messages of encouragement and prayer.
Life is such a blessing and I am so grateful for the amazing family and friends God has given me. Both my surgery and recovery went much better than even the doctors expected and I owe that all to the mercy of God and your prayers. Thank you so very much. I love you guys. xoxo