Today, had a visit with the surgeon, the first since last week’s CT scan. What I knew already is that the 2 abscesses and the seroma aren’t really healing very well at all.
What I didn’t quite grok is why.
Surgeon went to the trouble of consulting with a second GI surgeon about my case (and I’m getting an appointment scheduled with said second GI surgeon, as this will be a tag-team effort now), and the consensus is that my primary cancer has “self-perforated” and thus some small amount of fecal bacteria is getting into my abdominal cavity, and these abscesses/seroma are the result of that.
There’s one small positive in this: the combination of the colostomy diverting the poop and preventing almost all of it from getting to the cancerous part of my colon, and that the abscesses are open and draining, has kept me from going septic. It’s a low-level infection, basically.
But that’s about all the positives. Obviously, can’t restart chemo with this situation going on, which isn’t going to make the oncologist happy.
No, it means I’m likely going to have my abdomen unzipped again (has to be an open surgery) to clean out all the mess, install some drains, and, maybe, if the internal inflammation isn’t bad, do the resection and get the primary mass portion of the colon out.
Or, if the inflammation is too much, it stays.
But even if it goes, he thinks I’ll be keeping the colostomy for a while longer.
I hate the colostomy and want it gone. It traps me into staying close to home, not doing things that, for me, constitute “living” versus just existing. I can’t bend or twist very well. The seals to my skin, because of the way it’s shaped, have a tendency to blow out at random intervals (always in a way that sends poop toward one of my open wounds, of course), which means I could end up getting shit all over everywhere, wherever I happen to be, at any time.
The surgeon pointed out that the colostomy saved my life, in that without it, with the blockage I have, I would have ruptured my bowel and gone totally septic and suffered a lot and likely died.
Being in rather a foul mood at this point (spoiler alert: I’m in a bit better shape as I write this), I wondered aloud if maybe that would have been preferable to being reduced to just existing.
I understand what the colostomy did and does. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. It’s an obvious, noisy (random farts with no warning or control), smelly (don’t care how much of the deodorizing liquid I use, it stinks), messy, prone to random failures at inopportune times, piece of equipment that says I’m broken. I’m old. I’m broken, and the longer it’s there, the less likely (at least in my mind) that I’ll ever be rid of it.
I hate it. (Surgeon: “You need to have a love/hate relationship with it.” Me: “How about hate/hate?” Did I mention he has custom cowboy boots with a little pink colon applique on them?) I’m sitting here right now typing this between very frequent checks of the adhesive ring’s integrity as I’ve got some emissions coming out of the stoma and I’d like them to stay in the fucking bag, thankyouverymuch. I just put the damn thing on yesterday morning after a fairly epic blowout that happened while I was sitting here in my chair trying to take care of some business.
So I’m going to get an appointment with the other surgeon for a consult, and the likely outcome of that is I’m going to get another open abdominal surgery soon.
This means a week or so in the hospital.
This means who-knows-how-long for recovery (it’s been 6 months since my first surgery and I’m obviously not recovered from it).
This means a fairly lengthy delay to the next chemo.
This means another big bill.
And, at this point, we’re talking about a lot of heavy-duty suckage for what amounts to a “maybe” that in any event wouldn’t be a complete final surgery, and may well not be able to remove the source of the problem at all, which leads me to ask “why should I go through all that again if the outcome is the source of all the bad stuff is still there, plus my abdomen has been unzipped again and I have to go through all that recovery for no good reason?”
I don’t know what the answer is. I suspect what’ll happen is I’ll go through with it, and with history being my guide, the worst-case situation will be what happens, and I’ll be really pissed off about it, but hurt too much to do anything except wince in pain and cry.
Of course, there’s an advantage to getting it done this year: this year, at least, I still have health insurance. I don’t know if I’ll have health insurance next year thanks to the GOP asshats in DC and Austin who are doing their level best to at the very least price me out of the market, if not make it so I’m totally unable to get coverage for any amount of money. The irony is not lost on me that I’m an American, decently-educated, straight, white, male who can pass as Christian, who is one of the kind of “entrepreneurial small-business owner” types my GOP reps tout in their speeches, while their actions involve doing everything they can to make life outside of corporate employment too expensive to manage. If I, who by virtue of genetics and birth, get to go through life on the lowest difficulty setting, imagine being someone who has none of those inherent “low difficulty” characteristics.
But I digress. The summary: the situation just took a turn into the old abandoned mine road. And I’m not driving.