Thursday, September 2, 2010

Surgery and September

This little guy with the sweet shades?

He is my hero.

Tuesday was a long, tiring, emotional day. Honestly, though, I expected it to be so much more difficult than it was.

Monday night I was able to sleep a little so I woke up refreshed and CALM. I did not expect to feel calm and I was so thankful! The song "Our God is an Awesome God" was on repeat in my head while I got ready. I prayed and felt at peace that God was in control. I was a little sad that we should have been getting Jackson ready for his first day of Mother's Day Out instead of extensive surgery, but I got over it. After all, we had much bigger plans for the day--getting rid of that tumor!

After we were ready and the car was packed, we woke up the boys. Once Jackson was in his carseat, he grabbed his sunglasses and they pretty much stayed on until surgery :) He also told us that it was "smooky" outside (his word for spooky).

We dropped Brayden off and got on the road. Once we got to the hospital, we had to wait a bit, then we headed to pre-op. We spent a good deal of time there, signing consents and having last minute meetings with surgeons. There were several children getting prepped for surgery so it was pretty busy place. Once everything was in order, Jackson was given goofy juice to calm him and they took him away.

{A blanket he was given to keep during pre-op.}

They took him back to the OR at 7:37 am. We got periodic calls in the waiting room and once the surgeons were done they came out and talked with us. We got a call about 12:10 saying that they were finishing up. The anesthesiologist came to take us to him in recovery at 1:05.

{This is the screen in the waiting room that shows the status of the surgery. He is the one with a band-aid. The band-aid signifies that surgery is winding down. It was exactly 5 hours from the time he entered the waiting room till the time his band-aid showed up.}

The waiting was not nearly as bad as I thought and feared it would be. Thanks to a sweet friend and some family, we had lots of conversation to keep us occupied! Brayden was a pretty cute distraction too :)

The basics of the surgery...Dr. G was able to get all of the tumor out along with some (hopefully) marginal tissue. He did not have to take any pelvic bone. His bladder was also unaffected by the surgery (although the tumor had pushed it, it was not stuck to it). For the most part, his nerves were not affected. Possibly some nerve endings were damaged, but Dr. G was not concerned. He did lose some muscle tissue, but that was very expected. There was an issue with his femoral vein, which is the main vein in that part of the body. A portion of it was very attached to the tumor. Dr. G called in a vascular surgeon to assist with detaching the vein. He did lose a part of the vein, but since the tumor has been there for awhile and was so big, his blood has most likely found collateral ways to flow. Also, if he has to have radiation, it is probable that the vein will deteriorate due to fibrosis anyway. The plastic surgeon, Dr. H, said it was great that the vein was saved right now, but it may not matter in the long run.

As for the plastic surgery portion of the surgery, Dr. H was able to use the best option (Praise GOD!), the gracilis muscle. We are so thankful they did not have to cut up his tummy. I hope to be able to sit down with Dr. H when he is not rushed for time to get a better, more clear understanding of exactly what he did. He has given us an overview a couple of times, but I don't speak doctor so I still can't really picture it all. I want to be able to explain to Jack what went on when he is older! From what I understand right now, the gracilis muscle was rotated up to replace the muscle he lost when the tumor was resected. Dr. H said his pelvic floor was completely gone. He also did some work to protect the spermatic cord. As far as the mesh he used to help prevent hernias in the future, he used the stratus which is pig skin.

Jackson's incision is a T shape. Horizontal where the tumor was, vertical down his leg right to his knee.

Right now, he is just in bed. No moving, no standing, no walking. He gets rotated every 2 hours or so. He really doesn't want to use his left arm very much for some reason. He has not wanted to eat, so Wednesday afternoon he was put on a nutrition IV. He will drink milk a little, and he is doing well with water and apple juice. Wednesday he also had his first blood transfusion. His hemoglobin was low and the oncologist is hoping that the blood will help his body to have the energy to recover faster. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning he had a fever of 101.5. That is the highest it has been all summer. The doctors and nurses felt the fever was from surgery, just his body reacting to all it was put through. During the day Wednesday, he did run a fever off and on, but it was not as high. There was a little concern since he received blood, but now his temperature is normal. He has drains and a foley that they empty every few hours. The first day or so he was on morphine for pain every 2 hours and it seemed to give him bad dreams. They eventually decided to switch to a fentanyl drip, so he is getting it continually plus we can push a button to give him a little more if necessary.

The last we heard, Dr. G would evaluate him on Monday to decide when we would leave. They really, really want him to be still and they feel that being on bed rest here is the best place to accomplish that. Dr. H said he could undo all that was done, and we do NOT want that. Dr. G, Dr. H and two of the oncologists have been by every day to check on him and monitor his incision (it is not fun for anyone when they look at it).

After the tumor was removed, it was sent to pathology. We should hear something soon hopefully. We are anxious to know details of what they find. Hopefully they will say that the tumor was completely DEAD!! That would mean that chemo was a huge success.

We hope and pray that Jackson's sweet little body is now cancer free, but we won't know for certain until we have more scans. I feel confident that God will take care of him!

We are SO thankful that surgery went so well (and that the time passed fairly quickly). Of course, this surgery was a huge deal to us, but after surgery a few nurses and doctors have commented on how big the surgery was, how extensive, how tough of a case. It still makes my stomach drop to think of them saying that. I am just glad they didn't say that before surgery (they may have said it and God just closed my ears to it!). I am SO glad that God makes doctors and nurses so very smart. It is amazing what they do.

The weeks ahead will be tough, but to have the actual surgery behind us is such a relief. There are many, many things that we are thankful for during this time...our doctors, nurses, hospital, family, friends, kindness of many and prayers of more. Yes, we'll be here a week if not more, but we are thankful it's not a month. He can't walk for about 10 days, but I'll take that over 100 days!

Jackson is such a brave boy! Nurses have commented on how well he is doing and how impressed they are when he doesn't fuss about things and the doctors have said how proud they are of him!

On another note, it is September! September is my favorite month of the year. It is the month Ryan and I got married, Brayden's birthday is the 4th and Jackson's is the 10th, plus it starts to feel like fall and football season is here! However, this year I have another reason to love September.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We will be celebrating by participating in the Heroes for Children 5k later this month. Heroes for Children is a wonderful organization that does so many things for children with cancer, in addition to assisting families financially.

One way that Jackson has benefited from Heroes for Children is the Beads of Courage program. Heroes for Children sponsors this awesome program! You can learn more about it HERE.

{Jackson's Beads of Courage so far. He earns more every day!}

Want to celebrate this month with us? You can donate HERE. Every dollar counts and will go DIRECTLY to aide families in Texas battling childhood cancer!

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18



  1. I am praying they are able to get the staging to you soon and I can hear the words of those amazing doctors telling you they have gotten it all! Jackson is a true warrior and I am in awe of his bravery. A hero in every sense of the word! September is one of my favorite months as well. Much love to you all! xxoo

  2. The song is right. Our God is an awesome God. I am SO glad Jackson's surgery went well, and I will keep praying for him and your family!

  3. Lindsay, Your posts are so wonderful, thank you for keeping us updated.Please know that everyone at Funday School has been praying for Jackson, and all of you, and will continue to do so. Please let us know if we can do anything for you guys. In Him, Ms. Sandy (in the office) :)



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