Tues. May 7th. 2019.
It is about five months into my recovery from my surgery, and over six months from the time I was told that I had only six months to live. I can only assume God still has a plan for me on this earth. On a most unfortunate day in July in 1963, I was almost snuffed from this life by hitting a tanker truck head on. Five weeks in the hospital and again another five weeks 20 years later with two large growths on my hip that were not malignant, since then I have been in reasonably good health.
Early in Oct. 2018, I was diagnosed with a growth in my Esophagus. It was cancer. I sensed a problem a week earlier with my stool, it was black and the consistency of tar. My family doctor saw me at once and ordered blood tests then sent me to our local hospital for an Endoscopy. It was the Thanksgiving week-end so I was sent the next day to the St.Catherines Hospital and told the very moment when I recovered from the antiseptic, that it appeared to be cancer. Only by the fact that I was on blood thinners was it possible to detect my problem early. My 5 days in Emergency were hell but that story is called “Cancer” and can be read on my blog at www.rantingsandraves.com.
A friend and neighbour suggested that she found very little on how one handles such a jarring life situation, (recovery of Esophagal cancer and given a short period of time to live, what were my feelings during the long period of recuperation. This and much more will be revealed in the following pages.
We humans know that we are destined to die at some time. We know not when or where, but even with news that you have only 6 months to live or you are stricken with a cancer, faith and being optimistic rules that somehow you can beat the odds and avoid the grim reaper. Of course, this frame of mind only lasts until there is little time left and then the reality sets in and no matter how prepared you are, for most of us, no matter how deep our faith, fright and despair become evident. For we Christians, we know that provided we believe our Lord Christ died for our sins and he is the Son of God, we will see a much better place than here on earth. We will be with God in a place called Paradise. However, fear for the unknown can make for a difficult time for some that do not have faith in a supreme God.
Sunday May 20th 2019.
Recovery from my cancer has been long and slow. I am almost six months into my recovery and I am getting tired of being tired and very weak. If I exert myself for an hour or so, I am as weak as a kitten. My whole chest area has been affected and so I will have pangs of pain in places that I would have thought were not possible. I was told that the medical profession regard my whole upper body, back and front as my chest. The back of my chest where I have a large incision gives me few problems, but my stomach has been made smaller by pulling it up and making the top into a tube to be fastened to my throat. My esophagus has been removed along with the cancer that was in it so I have a straight flow into my stomach. I must try to keep my head higher than my stomach to avoid bile and stomach fluids coming up and into my lungs and throat. This is a real problem if you are accustomed to sleeping on your side or stomach. You cannot, you must sleep head elevated 30 degrees and always on your back. During my last 6 months I have had a cough and when not coughing I am either burping a lot or passing wind (Farting). I find this an expression of humour rather than profanity as one of my books is called “Ranting and Raves of a Curious Old Fart”.
Sleeping has been a problem. I find that a glass of water before retiring helps and I can now sleep 7 or 8 hours without waking. I have experienced what I call “Phantom pains”. They would occur out of the blue and be like sharp needles of hot pain. I get, even after six months internal pain that will last longer and be all around my frontal chest, I put it down to the healing process perhaps because I do not want it to be a signal of further problems. My surgeon has said he wants to see me in six months and I am hoping we can follow his plan.
Coming home was a bit of stress for us all, Joan, Brenda and myself as we were sure that I would not be able to handle the stairs so at the last minute we had the Acorn stair lift installed. This was anticipated so all the quotes were done and as I did not die on the operating table and survived the Step Down which was formerly called recovery, the stair lift was finished with Michael and Alex supervising and learning so they can install a lower level one in the future if needed. The Step Down was hideous but necessary for going forward. I was pushed and walking the morning after my surgery. I would far rather be left to lay and sleep but 6:00 AM came just as I was getting to sleep after a sleepless night. Busy all day with more injections, more teams of specialists doing their job to keep me alive and ready to return home soon. Procedure after procedure and after 6 days a regular hospital bed in a quiet room felt oh so good. I did use the lift and have used it twice since. I figure the dam thing has cost me at this point $1,000.00 per ride. Even Canada’s Wonderland is cheaper. We now use it for a grocery lift.
About three months into my recovery my body seemed to be trying to accept the trauma of experiencing a lot of my internal stuff removed and replaced in a somewhat different home, it seemed to rebelling by throwing my bowels into a turmoil. I would spend as much as an hour on the toilet waiting for the last big blow. I also had gas and large bowel movements along with diarrhea. This is probably more than the average reader needs to know but for any one entering into this voyage, it may help you to understand better what to expect.
Weakness and fatigue are still my problem along with the constant feeling of pressure in my left chest. It still feels like I am wrapped with duck tape. Hopefully, it will become just a part of the cost of not dying.
What are my inner feelings? How am I excepting this new life in such an old body?
I first must thank my God for this experience. That seems to be a bit out of the ordinary but I must say that I have learned a great deal from this journey. I do not think I would want to repeat it but always realising that the tunnel of darkness, doubt, fear and frustration would come to an end sometime in the future or I would die, gave me strength to continue. My Wife and niece in law were a great strength in this part of my life. Other family and friends from far and wide were there for me with their prayers and help. I thank you so much. For 12 hours our God daughter, Tammy, Brenda and Joan were in the waiting room before they got the news that I was out of the OR. When I came out of the anesthetic, I saw, not Angels but, Bossy, Messy and my beautiful wife Joan, my three Angels on earth.
Have I had a change in my demeaner? I would say, you would have to ask my wife, I think that I am the same cuddly, cute, funny and wonderful guy that every one has loved and looked up to for years. However, Joan has a different slant on it all. “No, you were not at all what you envisioned for your self and you are now even worse because you are more critical and grouchier.” I don’t know how she can live with me now but I guess after being together for more than 60 years, it can’t go on for much longer. She must love me if I am as bad as all that. I walk like a drunk sometimes and I forget my train of thought. I think it is weakness but others just say that is what old people do when they are my age.
I am sure that I have missed a lot of the details and I will think of many other points that I should jot down so we will let it rest for a few days and see just how forgetful I really am.
May 20th 2019
Home Care; I really need to talk a bit about Home Care. Arrangements were made in a big hurry for all the dressings, tube feeding food, wheel chair, IV pole, syringes, walker, boxes and boxes of stuff for my use at home and also for the Home visiting nurses. This was accomplished from the time we left Hamilton until just after we arrived home. For the first months we had two visits per week and then one visit per week for another few weeks until I was mobile. This care is needed and is included in our health care plan. It is very well managed and a God-send for older patients. Joan was given instructions at the hospital for administering my feeding tube that was inserted by the surgeons. However, there was a professional way that took a few practice rounds before Brenda and Joan had it mastered. The walker is either sold to you or taken back when the patient feels he can get along without it. There are time limits set down by the government policy makers but sensibility sets in on the job and no stress was made on the family or the patient. I returned home with a feeding tube into my upper intestines and a draining tube with a flexible ball container in my back. Both were rather cumbersome but I was not going to be attending any parties for a while. When all the tubes were removed, it was a painless procedure that I had no reason to fear. I had a total of 50-60 staples and the home nurses removed them painlessly. Pain was generally not a problem from the very start. Just don’t let a male nurse who has no idea where your incisions are, try to move you. That was PAIN! All the nursing staff and the teams were fantastic. I had 5 teams.
Surgical, Anesthesiologists, Physiotherapy, Nutrition, Medication. All were there every day to check and advise and answer questions.
My Oncologist was the only weak link, she dropped me when I was reluctant to take the Chemo and Radiation. I had done enough research to know that treatment when not absolutely necessary for a successful result can kill up to 50% of cancer patients. Your body has had all the natural immunes damaged or killed and the cancer has been given more time to grow. When I finally had my last visit on my required process to see the surgeon who had first advised me that I was doomed to a very harsh death in about 6 months, he checked all the many procedures which took over a month. Endoscopy, Cat scans, Pets cans, X-rays, Lung test and echogram, total body scans to find any other cancers that I might have. I guess he was satisfied that I should have this very invasive surgery. Dr. Shargall looked at me and said, I can operate in ten to fourteen days and give you a 95% chance of success. We don’t fool around with cancer. However, your chances are about 50% when we consider post surgery complications. They are many and for you, we have to consider your heart A fibulation, blood clots, infection and other considerations. What do you want to do? I had no chance before and now I have a 50% chance of a future. The next day I had a call that we were set for two weeks. Dec. 3rd. 2018 at 8:00 AM.
My family and I felt we were on a roller coaster for those weeks but were relieved and thankful for the chance for a few more months or years together. Brenda said that she was watching my expression when I was told I would have a chance to fight this horrible life taker. I looked like a new man with once again a chance for a future.
My final thoughts for this summarization would be this.
No 1. Read your body and pay attention to changes.
No 2. Try to keep a positive outlook no matter how bleak the future.
No 3. Try to keep or have a sense of humour.
No 4. If you don’t understand your doctor when he uses medical terms
we don’t understand, ask for plain English please.
No 5. Have faith in your maker, this life here on earth is for learning and
preparation for a new life with him for all eternity.
May 22nd 2019 – I had coffee and snacks with a number of my neighbours at our community centre this morning and looking around at all my friends and their happy faces I said “I’m glad to be alive, I’m glad I didn’t die” just yet. As long as I keep gaining strength and feeling a bit better every day, life is good.
Paul D. Scott. A Cancer survivor.
There is no argument that our Health care in Ontario is broken. When you are admitted and your complaint has been determined, you should be admitted to a hospital room for further care, not warehoused on a gurney in the Emergency ward. The difference in cost between a hospital bed and one in Emergency can’t be that great. Each department is allocated how many beds will get financed each week and when that floor has reached the government limit, it matters not how many more patients are waiting for the remaining beds that are empty but not financed, they must wait in the deplorable conditions of the Emergency.
Another problem is that many patients could be ready to be discharged late on a Friday but can’t because their doctor wants to sign off first and does not come in on the week-end. These beds could be filled by needy patients and the patient ready for discharge could be home with their families. This problem is easily remedied by having the doctor file the minimum conditions the patient must attain for easy discharge. This is what my Doctor, Dr. Raut did before he left on Friday evening.
I felt like the secret shopper while I was in the hospital for 8 days. How much more do these poor souls on the front line have to put up with? I looked into the eyes of so many and their compassion was all they could offer.
We spoke earlier about jumping the line, normally I would be against such a thing and realise that we are all made equal and all should be treated the same. HOWEVER, should I, a citizen all my life, a contributor to society by paying taxes and employing dozens of people, never being a burden to society, not have some preference over a drug user that returns over and over again due to his habit, or a refugee that has come here illegally and made himself the responsibility of the government (the paying taxpayer). I personally feel that if a citizen that has contributed all his life to our system and been successful wants to pay for his services, he should have that option. Jump the line? In some circumstances “YES”.
Chapter 2 .
Oct. 13,14,15,16 Home
Tues. 16th Oct. waiting for my assessment with the Oncologist and starting to relax a bit as my stool while still black has become less runny and gross. A phone call from the Cancer clinic in Hamilton has caused us some concern and apprehension as they are booking me for the next day, Wed. 17th for a Brachytherapy. This is where a tube is inserted into the cancer mass and a radiation seed is released and exploded. This shot is many times stronger than the normal doses spread over many weeks. Three are administered to stop the bleeding and after this first shot my surgeon met with me to reverse the former thinking expressed to me by the St.Catherines experts-which was “my first line of defence would be Chemo, radiation and meds., and surgery was the last option and to be avoided at all costs”. Now I am hearing a completely new scenario and I am scared to death and wonder where to turn. It is like the Hamilton Cancer team are trying to steal me away from the St. Catherine’s team and I am the football. (Go Tiger Cats)
Monday Oct. 22nd, 2108
I came home a week ago last Fri. Michael and the two boys were with us that week-end and trips back to Hamilton and Sr.Catherines and my family doctor have kept my mind off the future. Brenda and Henny and Ron and Allice have been a wonderful support in driving when I have been sedated and can’t drive myself. 24 hours are required before you are legally able to drive. Otherwise you could be charged with “under the influence”. Joan is waiting for Cataract surgery and not able to drive on the highways.
On Thursday, I had my first of three Brachytherapy procedures in Hamilton where a large dose of radiation is shot into the tumour with seeds of radiation ten time the regular dose. This is primarily to stop the tumour from bleeding. The first has had no effect that I can see.
We attended our new church at the St. Catherine’s citadel of the “Salvation Army” on Sunday to be greeted by so many people that welcomed us back with their best wishes. Many have been praying for me and I am grateful for their concerns.
I woke up after a good sleep under the influence of Gravol to be concerned that if I were to be given a pill to put me to sleep permanently, would our large insurance policy be rendered null and void? After a long visit over the phone with Rhonda, we were assured that it would not be affected. Meagan, her daughter is going through a terrible cancer of the breast and is far from being out of the woods yet. Our prayers have been sent out for months now for this lovely and talented young woman.
Wed. 24th. October 2018
My dear niece Brenda saw that we were in a bad way and stayed over. Brian and Donna came for lunch and left late in the afternoon. Dr. D, my new friend in our community called and gave me a frank and realistic overview of our future. I was so pleased to receive his call but not his message.
Thurs. 25th October, 2018.
In Hamilton at 8:45. St. Joseph Hospital for Endoscopy by Dr. Shargall (surgeon) then at 1:45 at the Jarvinsky Cancer clinic for my 3rd. Brachytherepy. I had to cancel my MRI for my left knee in Niagara Falls at 8:45 PM. I was just too tired.
Fri. 26th. October 2018.
Back to St .Catherines for the long-awaited consultation with Dr. Y (Oncologist) at the Walker Clinic. She was very late. The wait was long and stressful. Brian and Terry, and Brenda accompanied us on this appointment as we needed younger ears to take in all the information that she had gathered for her assessment. As I have two more important tests to complete, Pet scan and an Echo gram, an accurate assessment is still to come. My blood count has dropped to 77 from my count when I was released from the hospital a week earlier at 89, I was obliged to spend the rest of the day for a single unit blood transfusion. Another is set up for Mon. AM. My Oncologist while well meaning is not all she should be in my opinion. She speaks with an accent and far too fast and is not complete with instructions. She was almost an hour late and was running out the door to another engagement before I was satisfied with our meeting. Brian asked for a prognosis and we were told I had about 6 months to live. At this point our last words with her were “I won’t need to see you further, good luck”, This seemed to be difficult for her and she was gone without any more help for my needs.
To be clear, this attitude on her part was because I was told by many of my team members in St.Catherines that surgery was very difficult and not pleasant and it would be a last resort. My surgeon (before the series of tests) had given me a 20 % survival. I had already put chemo and radiation on the back burner as being as detrimental as the cancer. My Oncologist should have taken the time and waited for all the test results before dropping me from her files, a feeling of abandonment came over me.
Our week-end was set aside for ‘R and R’. I did accomplish a normal Bowel movement with no blood. Small accomplishments do give one a lift under these circumstances. My email to the boys bringing them up to date still has not been acknowledged. We called the two families to have a talk tonight. Stressed the importance of them making a quick check of their emails every day.
Mon. 29th Oct.
Arrived at the St.Catherines hospital at 8:58am and had a unit of blood. Out by 1:00 pm and home for lunch. Good day.
The Lord works in mysterious ways;
I asked my God to give me a sign, something that would show that he was still in my corner, not a bolt of lightening or anything so obvious, just a gentle hint that he was still there and gently showing me some direction. He came through to-night with the answer I have been looking for. A good friend called from out of the blue to give me David Jewel’s phone number as David would like to re-new our old friendship. Neither knew my dilemma and my health problems but have had first hand contact with my horrible cancer and after a great deal of research, recommend that I consider very seriously going forward with any Chemo or radiation as at the other end I would be no closer to a cure but would have endured a great deal of trauma. Quality of life is so much better than quantity, being perhaps a few weeks or months of poor health.
I decided to get out and turn my thoughts to something other than my cancer. Wed. AM coffee is a highlight of my week so what better than to mix with my friends in our community. Apparently, I look pretty good still so it was not as difficult as I had envisioned. I also won the 50/50 which was $40.00. That will pay for parking for one day at my Hospital visit in Hamilton. My retired doctor friend wanted to give me a bit of advice when going forward with my decisions for future cancer care. He reminded me that when taking blood thinners for Afib, taking me off for future procedures could cause stroke or failure. Also, when on Iron pills my stool is dark and then what warning would I get that I was bleeding internally again. He spoke of Palliative care when the last few days or weeks are upon me. I have been made aware of the three ways of dying that are most likely going to be in my case and they are –
! Bleeding (cancer eroding into a major blood vessel)
2 Obstruction in throat.
3 More cancer cells than normal cells
For unbelievable care I have been informed that St.Catherines offers Palliative care and then Hospice (10 beds) constant care with facilities for spouse. This special facility has to be recommended by my Health care team. My transfusions when required need to be Packed cells not whole blood.
Ultrasound in Welland at noon.
Bob Baker dropped in with soup and home-made bread. He is a good listener and retired from the Canadian Airforce as a Chaplin. I am grateful for such caring friends.
Fri. Nov 2nd.
My second to last procedure will be done in Hamilton at St.Joseph’s Hospital. It is called a PET scan. Two large cups of vile liquid with traces of Iodine are drunk and then a mix of radio active something is injected into a port which is becoming almost impossible to give me as my veins are collapsing due to the number of blood samples I have given over the last 3 weeks. Total rest with only sleep if possible for 40 min. while the radiation is attracted to any cancers, then a donut shaped machine surrounds you for almost 1 hour and you are photographed from head to toe looking for any other cancer in your organs or body. We had an early supper at the Lakehouse on the way home. My body is getting tired.
At 12:00 noon to-day I was in the Welland Hospital for an Echo gram to see if my heart will stand up to surgery if I were to go that route. Euchre to-night to get my mind off this terrible ordeal.
A visit to my family doctor gave me little comfort but I can’t expect much comfort facing my future. We have arranged a blood test every month to check my hemoglobin. It took three tries before we were able to draw blood. My veins are closing down in my arms and hands from all the stents and needles.
Up at 5:30 am. to have Joan at Welland hospital for her eye surgery at 6:00am.
1st. signs of my throat closing up after my breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and juice. Had to turn down hot cereal. I just could not get it down with comfort.
Fri. Nov. 9th.
My Oncologist has given me pretty much all the options open to me. My decision has to include the fact that I have a heart problem, Afib. Any Chemo or Radiation could have a detrimental effect on my heart. Surgery is out as far as I am concerned, far too risky. I am choosing to do nothing and if required closer to the end, I may opt for radiation when in palliative care. She was OK with my decision where in hind site she should have insisted I see the surgeons before my final decision.
Thurs. Nov. 15th.
On the 13th I saw Dr. Sur my radiologist in Hamilton. I came out of that meeting with not much more to hang my hat on except that he convinced me to continue seeing the surgeons and complete hearing all my options. I am very glad I did. Dr. Sur is a kind and helpful man that gave me the advice that I should have been given by my oncologist.
Thurs. Nov 17th
Dr. Shargall saw me with Joan and Brenda in attendance. He explained that he was aware of my concerns of chemo and radiation prior to surgery and put my mind at ease. You are cancer free except for your Esophagus and it has been caught early. Your other tests show you are a healthy 82-year-old and are a pretty good candidate for this surgery. You’re A fib is a concern but we can by pass the heart somehow and would bring your % down to about a 60% success rate. This was tremendous news. I now have something to fight for where as before I had only the prospect of a lengthy struggle and a nasty death. Dr. Shargall is a pleasant man that puts no pressure on the patient but explained that he does not fool around with cancer and could schedule my surgery within 10 days to two weeks. I was back to his office the next day, Friday, to advise that I was now ready for surgery.
To-day is Monday Nov. 19th at about 3:15 pm. Michelle has called to give me my pre-op date Nov 28th. and my surgery is on
Mon. Dec 3rd.
It has been a long and interesting journey to come full circle from my initial decision of no surgery to opting for surgery ASAP.
This is the only way as difficult as it is to be. It gives me a fighting chance and that is what frustrated me all through this ordeal, not to have a chance to fight back. I am excited now and wait with mixed feelings, I feel good that I am given a chance as bad as the odds are. On the other hand, I am frightened that when I am wheeled into the O-R, I may not survive. Over the past 82 years we have made many friends and few enemy’s. All I ask is for a fighting chance which I have been given, and the support of all my friends and relatives with their prayers and good wishes.
Thurs.Nov.22nd. Blood count taken yesterday 127.
Wed. Nov 28th, Pre-op appointments with Doctors in Hamilton.
Mon. Dec 3rd, Surgery
I have completed the first phase of my journey and now Dec.3rd will take me and my family into a very new life experience.
CANCER OF THE ESOPHAGEUS
Brenda, Joan’s beautiful niece drove us to our destination in Hamilton, the St. Joseph’s Hospital, Juravinski Innovation Tower. We arrived early at about 5:30 AM and had to wait for the front door to be opened for us. I am not sure why I was so anxious for the following procedures to begin except that this was to be the answer to my not having to wait for imminent death. Once I was in the building there was no hesitation and before I knew it, I was on a gurney and in the #1 stall awaiting my operation scheduled for 8:00 AM. Almost 12 hours later I opened my eyes to see three tired but relieved faces of my three beautiful girls, Brenda, Joan and our God daughter Tammy. When asked if I recognised these girls? I immediately answered, Yes, messy, bossy and my beautiful wife, Joan. I have no idea how these words came out except that Tammy is a Sargent on the police force, and I have no idea if Brenda is messy or not. I hope to find out as I am going to have to be a good boy and not have any complications. After the procedure I just endured, complications would surely be a concern for my survival.
After my 5 plus hours + in surgery and a 6 hour hold in recovery because of a problem with pain management, I was returned to what is called Step - Down surgery (recovery) where I was held for 8 days until I could manage a bit on my own. They had me up walking my first day. This was an active place and I was anxious to be out and in a regular hospital room with a private bathroom and a slower pace. My only real pain was when there was a mix-up on my computer forms and my night nurse refused to give me my pain killer on demand and when assisting me out of bed, he pulled the wrong way and sent me into pain that caused me to cry out uncontrollably. My pain management team told me that they wanted me to have no pain as this would help me to heal much faster, I am sure that it worked for me.
Step Down Surgery was a busy and active place. Sleeping was a problem for me and the hospital was having difficulty maintaining a reasonable room temperature. It was far too hot and with no less than 8 tubes connected into my body and mobility very restricted, I was always hot and sweaty. Six o’clock came as a welcome relief as I would normally be awake at 4:00 AM. Like clockwork, at 6:03 two young strong men were wheeling a large portable x-ray machine down the corridor, propping me up and taking a picture of my chest. Early in the morning, all my teams would come for a short visit to check on me personally and to give me instructions as to how to recover more quickly. Meal time meant nothing to me as I was fed exclusively for the first few days by IV. Internal healing was a must. When, after a few days, I was able to view myself in a mirror. I was a bit shocked to see that I was wearing a zipper from my breast bone to my belly button, about 10 inches and another longer incision on my right back. Later I found that there were other points of entry and exits that ended up having to heal before I would be able to have a shower. The healing took much longer than I wanted.
About 10 weeks after my surgery;
I had a bath to-day, not a shower, with 4 inches of water in the tub, I was not going to have a problem with my healing body as all my wounds were above the waist. I anticipated problems removing myself from the tub and I was sooo right. The warm water felt very good and Joan washed my back. That was about all she could do for me, I had to extract myself from the warm confines of my water cocoon and this was done after much effort and arm strength on my part. My bed was my retreat at least for a few minutes prior to breakfast. A few days later I finally covered up a couple of spots on my body and ventured into the deeper water of having a shower. Many weeks of sponge bathing was now behind me.
I feel that I have recovered to the point where I can reflect on my journey.
What a rollercoaster ride it has been.
Thanksgiving week-end 2018, I was told I had six months to live. About four weeks later, I was told perhaps an operation could be performed. Two weeks after that, I was Cancer free, but in a fight to avoid all the conditions that took my percentage of recovery from 95% to about 50%. A recovering patient must be concerned with healthy habits following any surgery and mine was certainly not to be trifled with. Thank God, I was able to come through this ordeal without Chemo and Radiation. Chemo, especially is the killer. My cancer was detected early as I am on blood thinners with Afib. Otherwise I would not have noticed my Tumour until it would have been a phase 3 or 4. At that time in the scenario, my throat would have been seizing up. That is too late for radiation and chemo. Dr. Shargall and his team removed it with all clean sides thus giving me a recovery with no need for chemo or radiation after. I am a very lucky man.
I hope that I have come to the place where I can say that I am on the final road to recovery. I am sleeping better, I have discomfort where my stomach is now but very little pain, my blood pressure is normal now that my pills have been adjusted. I have no idea why I have pain and discomfort in places of my body that were far from any incisions. Michelle, my surgeon’s right hand explained that the 8-9-inch incision in my back had a lot of tissue cut and moved so the stomach could be re-arranged and my body will take a few months to adjust and feel normal. Shoulder pain after this surgery is experienced because the patient is put into such unnatural positions. As my esophagus was removed along with the tumour, my stomach was pulled up into the open space and shaped into a tube that is attached to the throat. In time when the body has adapted to this unnatural situation, I will be able to eat most foods and drink, but in much smaller amounts and chewed a lot more than we are used to. I am presently at the point where I am being tested like a Guiney pig as to what I can and can’t consume. When I over indulge or eat something my body can’t tolerate, it comes up with nothing to stop it, (no sphincter valve to close the tummy from the throat), along with stomach bile. I will remember to avoid that the next time. I also have to sleep in an upright position to avoid stomach acids flowing into my mouth. Not pleasant! One sleeping position for now, on my back.
My journey has been most interesting and educational; however, I would not recommend it. I count myself as being a very lucky man to have survived such an ordeal. Cancer can be beaten and in my case by being detected early and removed asap.
Every one’s story will be different, many would rather not re visit their past experience as I have. Cancer of the esophagus is one of the worst, I am told. All cancer is bad if left to grow in your body. Early detection is the secret to extended life.
The Journey Continues.
Thank You --- to so many that have inspired me, scared me, comforted me, prayed and sent cards and emails and phone calls giving me the strength to continue the fight for survival. I thanked the surgical team following the surgery. They replied “That is what they do”, it was up to me to complete the job by being strong and renewing my new body.
Thanks to Joan, Brenda and Tammy. 12 hours of waiting while I was in the arms of God and the hands of the surgery teams. Dec. 3rd. 2018.
A special thanks to the following.
Dr. L. VanDerwalt - My family doctor, who reacted quickly and following blood samples, no time was wasted getting me into the hospital for an Endoscopy.
Dr. Dan Segal - Dan performed the Endoscopy and had the task of announcing that he was sure but tests would have to confirm that I had cancer.
Dr. Raut - My internist in St. Catherines while I was in Emergency for 5 days. Also confirmed my cancer.
Dr. Blewett - surgeon, St.Catherines hospital, advised me that surgery was not possible in his hospital. He kept track of my progress through his associate, Dr. Shargall.
Dr. Yashit - was Dr. Blewitt’s assistant and associate. She was working with Dr.Blewitt as she was re-entering school to study to be a surgeon. She observed an operation on Esophagus cancer and warned me that it was something to avoid if possible.
Suzanne Johnston RN,PhD President St. Catharines Hospital.
Martin J. Ruaux RN MHM (chief nursing officer) “ “
Derek McNally Exec. VP clinical services “ “
The three above were kind and helped me into a regular room in the hospital after over 100 hours in Emergency.
Dr. Sur - Brachytherepy Radiation, Juravinski clinic Hamilton. Dr. Sur spent time with me and encouraged me to continue with my series of tests through to their conclusion as the surgeons would have more information after the tests that could change my outcome. This should have been done by my Oncologist.
Dr. Yaron Shargall MD. FRCS (C) My consultation was two days after Dr. Sur and he was correct. Because my tests could not find any other cancer in my body and because I was diagnosed early and more radiation and chemo were not necessary, I could go directly into surgery within two weeks. Dr. Shargall gave me a 95% guarantee recovery from the surgery only, other possible complications such as blood clots, infection, heart problems would bring my recovery down by about 40%. I had to jump at my new lease on life. Thank you again Dr. Shargall. I am trying to bring the odds down every day and I think it is working.
Dr. Y - oncologist, the only disappointment in all the human contact I had to deal with in this journey. She dismissed me from her case load prior to all my consultations and wished me luck as she once again confirmed that my life expectancy was about six months.
Quote “If you condone incompetency, you guarantee it’s survival” Peter Turrell.
Joan and I have had a life together for over 60 years. That in itself is quite an accomplishment. We have had a life quite different than most of our friends and relatives. Probably in some part because of my curious nature experiencing many different lifestyles. Also, there is no doubt in my mind being blessed with two profoundly deaf boys would take us down a road less travelled. One thing that all humans experience is the finality of death to this world. At my age of 82, I was told by my doctors that I had cancer and only 6 months to live. At this ripe age I thought at first that was good news, (I have been living day to day) but with a little more reflection the reality kicked in. I will never see another spring or summer. I will never see my grandsons married or great grand children. There are many things I haven’t been able to do these last few years but I still didn’t lose hope that I might swing a golf club again or crew on a sail boat, or walk through a silent and serene forest as I did as a boy. Not many more sunsets would I see or hear the ocean crash onto the beach. I felt so blessed that there was nothing left on my bucket list to do so the wait was going to be silent and lonely and from all that I had been told, death was going to be very harsh and painful.
Joan, my partner for so many years is also failing and we realise how much we depend on one another. How will she make out without me to remind her and bother her about little things that need attention daily? Can she carry on in our lovely home? What if she has a spell and I am not there for her? Will she take care of herself and get her meals on time? Now the wheels are turning and facing a terrible painful death, I was quite resigned to meeting my maker and hopefully seeing all my dearly departed family and friends, and to be with my Lord God in Heaven. There was little time to feel sorry for myself as I was lined up for tests and exams. and procedures in Welland, St.Catherines and Hamilton. My Oncologist made all the arrangements but failed to give me any information on any of the appointments. Thanks to the web sites we were able to have some idea what to expect. My stress wondering how Joan would survive on her own was put to rest as her niece Brenda, offered to move into our lower level and take up residency to be a companion for my dear sweet wife. Brenda was in the throws of looking for a new space and there we were. Two problems solved with little discussion.
It has been 11 weeks since my surgery and I seem to be recovering pretty well. A new bed has arrived with a power lift to keep me in an elevated position while sleeping and it seems to be working well. A power lift to get me up in the bed would be helpful. I have been taken off my feeding tube that was to keep my food intake up so I would not loose any weight. The liquid was sent by a pump into my upper intestines avoiding my much smaller stomach and was formulated to give me adequate nourishment. I must always try to have 6 small meals a day and will always need to be elevated when sleeping. Small sacrifices for a new life.
Paul D. Scott www.rantingsandraves.com