My niece and I left without a set date for the surgery but knew it would be soon. My mood grew worse as I spent time alone with the fact that surgery was imminent. The roller coaster was running flat out. I began to consider saying to hell with it and just dying rather than being hospitalized for a week with major surgery. Finally, I set on a Stoic practice of dealing with obstacles. There were many things that seemed insurmountable like my being laid up and home alone after the surgery. Instead of worrying, I began to prepare by getting tasks done in advance so there would be little I needed to do to look after myself after the surgery. As I became better prepared, the stress eased a bit, but I was still worried about the surgery to remove my kidney.
Finally, the day arrived for the surgery in mid-August. I had to report to the hospital by 6 am on a Monday. My niece came over Sunday night and stayed overnight to drive me to the hospital in the morning. We found our way to the pre-op waiting room. Promptly at 6 I was called in to pre-op. I got undressed and into a hospital gown and my niece took my bag with my clothes. The two hour wait went by quickly, and it felt like a blur when I was wheeled into the operating room. The mask was placed over my nose and mouth and in moments I was unconscious.
The next few days were hell on earth. I was in and out of my mind from the painkillers and had a catheter in. The surgeon came to see me, but I remember only a little of what she said except that it had gone well. There was not much pain but coughing and stretching hurt. I could not figure out how to operate my cellphone to call anyone to talk to in my confused state. I did make a call to my best friend’s voicemail but my message to her was unintelligible. For the first few days I was on a liquid diet, but I had no appetite anyway. Gradually the mental fog began to clear and the catheter was removed. That had me peeing in a bottle, then in a day or so being helped to go to the washroom. A therapist came in once a day to get me up and using a walker. I felt I was clearer-headed but physically still a wreck. My unsteadiness on my feet had me wondering how I was going to get home. I had to climb two flights of stairs to get to my apartment.
By Saturday, the hospital arranged for a walker to be delivered to my apartment in preparation for my going home. They also put me in touch with a patient transport company to take me home and have their men carry me up the stairs in my building. That turned out to be quite a challenge for the four men as I weigh a little over 300 lbs. With a great deal of effort, and no complaints, they accomplished the task. Once at home, I began to feel better almost immediately.
Sunday morning, I was still in a bit of pain but felt so much better mentally. I began to phone people to tell them I was home and I found myself talking with a great deal of energy but tiring out quickly. This went on for a couple of days. I took it easy, not lifting anything heavy or straining myself for about six weeks. I have felt fine since then.
In early December I went back for more CT scans and then just before Christmas, I had another appointment with the surgeon. She said I was cancer-free and my one remaining kidney was functioning well. I returned to see the surgeon in April. What I remember most about the whole experience is how well I was treated by family, friends, and the healthcare professionals. Everyone was kind and patient and helpful where they could be. I am back to reading my books about Stoic philosophy and trying to deepen my experience of it. I learned a lot about myself during this experience; my strengths and weaknesses and that I had come through.