Helena was taken into the OR area at 7:30am on Friday morning. The surgery started at 9:45am. We saw the surgeons before she was taken to the OR. They were optimistic at that time. The procedure was expected to take about 7 to 8 hours.
Dr. Sen came to see to see us at about 3:30pm and said that everything went fine. :-) He removed everything he could see (of the tumor) and saw good margins. He also reported that Dr. Costantino used the left trapizias flap for the reconstruction which also went well.
He also reported that Helena was awake in the Recovery Room and was able to move everything fine.
I was able to see Helena in the Recovery Room at 4:30pm. She looked very good, had good color, a strong grip, and could talk.
The doctors are saying that if all goes well, she could be out of the hospital by Wednesday. Before Thanksgiving! :-)
I will let everyone know when she can have vistors, get flowers & cards, and get phone calls.
Helena is progressing very nicely. All the doctors are very happy with her condition. I saw her this morning in the ICU and she was scheduled to be moved to a regular room in the afternoon.
I will be going in on Sunday and if she is ready for calls and/or cards I will let folks know. It may be safer to send cards to our home address, since she might be coming home before the cards can reach her in the hospital:
614 Van Liew Court
Hillsborough, NJ 08844-3244
I took the train into NYC this morning to see Helena. When I got to the hospital, all of the computers that have where a patient is were down! I just went to the floor that I was told she was going to be moved to and asked... Don't worry ... I found her... :-)
She's in Patient Area 10B, Room 26, Bed A. She can have visitors. Visiting hours are from 11am to 8:30pm. So if you are in the area (St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 10th Ave (between 58th and 59th streets)), stop by for a visit... She does have a phone, but would rather not receive phone calls. I will be taking her laptop in tomorrow, so she may be on-line tomorrow...
They had her sitting in a chair today. They unhooked the intravenous tubes and she was able to walk a little bit. She doesn't look like she had major brain surgery two days ago. :-)
We're still hoping that she will be coming home before Thanksgiving, but if she doesn't get out then, she will be able to barely see the Macy's Parade from one of the windows on her floor... :-)
Thanks again for all of your support and prayers.
I went to see Helena this afternoon. She is progressing very well. The doctors indicated that if the drains can be removed tomorrow, she will be able to come home on Wednesday. :-)
Today the physical team spent time walking with her and she was given a cane to help steady her if she walks alone. Tomorrow, it's the stairs! :-)
Tomorrow when I get there, I will set up her laptop, so she should be online sometime in the late afternoon.
Visitors are welcome to come. Visiting hours are from 11am to 8:30pm. Directions to the hospital can be found here: http://www.roosevelthospitalnyc.org/visiting-roosevelt/maps-and-directions/
Cards should be sent to our home. This way she will get them. If cards get to the hospital after she is discharged, they don't always get forwarded. Our home address is:
614 Van Liew Court
Hillsborough, NJ 08844-3422
One of the drains was removed today. After the other one is removed, she will probably be able to come home. We're hoping for tomorrow, but given the weather forecast for the first snow of the season, I don't look forward to the drive into NYC to pick her up and then leaving in the Thanksgiving out bound crush. But if they say she's able to go home, I will do the drive... :-)
One slight down side ... she is in quite a bit of pain and discomfort where the flap was taken (left shoulder), but the pain medication (Percoset) does get rid of the pain.
The physical therapy folks have been working with her, with some exercises, walking and stairs steps.
I was able to set up her laptop today and we were able to connect to AOL. She thanks everyone who sent messages.
Thanks again for all of your prayers and thoughts.
I just got off the phone with Helena ... She saw all the doctors this morning and they said that I could come and take her home! :-) I will be driving in to NYC after lunch. (The snow has stopped .... it wasn't much of a storm, maybe an inch on the grass, not much on the roads)
They are all very impressed with how well she has healed.
No she's not home.
They took the last drain out but the wound was still oozing fluids.
The bad part about this, was that we weren't told until 6pm that she wasn't going home today.
So much for the quick recovery.
She's being moved back to the ICU today. The doctors don't like some of the discharge in the drains.
We think that they removed the drains too soon yesterday.
She's back in the ICU. They put a Lumbar drain in her lower back. It seems there was some Intercranial Spinal Fluid in the stuff coming out of the wounds. This was not good. Also the upper wounds near the skull were wet instead of dry, also not good.
The new drain seems to be doing it's job. The upper wounds are now dry again, which will let them heal.
She is getting some headaches, but the doctor indicated that the Lumbar drain can cause them and not to worry unless they get very painful.
She will probably be in the ICU at least until tomorrow and in the hospital at least the weekend. The nurse said the earliest she could be released would be Saturday evening. But after yesterday, I would rather they keep her a day or two longer instead of trying to get her out sooner. Also, if they keep her there longer, maybe they will remove the stitches before she goes home, so we don't have to go into NYC again so soon...
Since she's in the ICU, she doesn't have her laptop with her. I will bring it back once she's in a regular room again.
I saw Helena this afternoon. She is doing better again, but the doctors won't be removing the Lumbar drain until Monday morning at the earliest. That means she will be in the ICU over the weekend and probably won't come home until mid week.
The good news is that there is no sign of infection and the wounds are healing again.
Dr. Sen apologized to Helena for not being able to send her home on Wednesday, but said we were lucky that the problem occurred while she was still in the hospital. If I had taken her home and this problem occurred, then she would have, most likely, gotten an infection which would have put her back in the hospital for an even longer stay.
Helena is still in the ICU. She will be there until the Lumbar drain is removed, hopefully on Monday. The doctors have told her that the drain is doing it's job.
As to why it was needed in the first place, the doctors believe that all of the surgeries that she has had in that area caused problems with the wounds healing.
She is still getting headaches, some are worse than others. While I was there, she was given Morphine to kill the pain, since codeine and Percoset didn't help. The Morphine helped.
I saw Helena on Sunday Evening.
She seemed to be in better spirits and more alert than she was on Saturday. She indicated that she was getting fewer headaches and that the percoset was able to control them.
She wasn't drifting in and out of sleep Sunday as she was on Saturday.
Hopefully the drain will be removed on Monday Morning. I expect that the earliest she would be able to come home would be Wednesday, but I doubt the doctors are going to try to rush her out this time.
The Lumbar drain was removed about noon on Monday. When I got there at about 3:30pm in the afternoon, Helena was resting comfortably. The headaches were gone.
At about 5pm we got word that she was being transferred out of the ICU. While waiting for this to happen, Dr. Sen stopped by and said that if things look ok tomorrow (Tuesday), there is a strong possibility that Helena will be able to come home on Wednesday. Of course after what happened last Wednesday, I'm not going to put out a message until she's actually home... :-)
She is now in room 10B-21B. She has a phone, but requested that I don't publish the number.
I saw Helena this (Tuesday) afternoon and evening.
While I was there, one of the doctors came to check on her. There seems to be fluid just under the skin of her back that's been accumulating since they took out the drain. Because of this, I highly doubt that she will be coming home tomorrow.
But I would rather she be kept in the Hospital until everything is ok instead of being sent home too early.
Other than that she is getting better. We went for a walk after I got there and made it the whole length of the hall and back to the room. (Her current room is at one end of the hall).
We just got home, with a stop at the drug store, just over an hour from the hospital to home...
OK, OK... Here at last is news from ME.
Let's put it this way: Although we didn't expect this surgery to be an easy one, we sure didn't anticipate what we had to endure these past few weeks. At least it's now over!
I came home much more wobbly than usual last week, and found myself depending on the cane the therapists gave me; particularly after a fall my first morning home that put a scare into me. Fortunately, I was able to give up the cane on Monday; and successfully made my first trip down the stairs that evening as we headed out to get me a Procrit shot.
We spent today's lovely (!) wet weather driving to New York and visiting the ENT Gang to get my stitches out; hoping and hoping all would go well so we wouldn't have to figure out what to do next week in the event the city's transit system shuts down. Fortunately, the doctors were pleased with the way things are healing; and I don't have to go back until January 8. (They really wanted me back in two weeks, but the holidays got in the way.) And Ken was pleased to only have to resume hairwashing and not have to worry about bandaging my head.
So with that bit of good news, we can really begin to begin getting back to whatever passes for normal around here. I've had surprisingly little pain; most of it in the left shoulder. One of the things we received from the doctors today was a prescription for physical therapy (primarily to regain range of motion in that left shoulder/arm); so we'll be investigating that over the next few days.
It's taken awhile to get my eyes back in focus for any extended length of time; which limited my ability to read newspapers and hang out on the computer. I finally began reading the papers on Friday; and logged in on Friday afternoon to see over 600 messages (of all sorts) waiting for me on AOL. Now that we've gotten past today's medical hurdle, I hope to finally be able to read all the e-cards and respond to all the lovely messages over the next few days.
Nevertheless, now that I'm home and finally able to resume more normal activities, THANK YOU ALL for the lovely notes, cards, thoughts, and prayers sent to both Ken and me over the past few weeks. They have tuly meant a lot to us both!