It’s been a while since our last update and a lot has gone on since then. The return trip to the hospital lasted another four days (totaling 17 days in the hospital). The good news, we got everything straightened out with meds and the feeding tube. I have now been home since March 1.
When I left the hospital (again), I was still attached to a feeding tube that runs 24/7. The tube slowly pushes water and a high calorie formula to keep me fed and hydrated. I was also released with a chest tube to drain any fluid from my chest cavity. The chest tube was kind of a pain because attached to the tube was about 4 feet of rubber hose, connected to the drain box that went everywhere with me – kind of like Flavor Flavs Time Piece – but without all the pretty. The down side is that I could only sleep on my back with my head/torso at a 20 degree angle. But it was good to be home and in my own bed.
On Monday, March 13, I had an esophogram to check the status of the leak. For the most part, the leak had healed, but there was a small residual pooling that they wanted to keep an eye on, so I began “The Grape Juice Test”, laughingly called the poor mans contrast study. For a week, I sipped purple grape juice throughout the day to see if any showed up in the chest tube drain. We didn’t see any and the flow from the chest tube slowed to a half teaspoon a day.
Yesterday, March 21, I had my first follow-up with Dr. Varghese at Huntsman Cancer Institute. He was very pleased with my progress, and with the lack of grape juice in the chest drain. Because of that, thank God, the chest tube was finally removed! Yippee! On top of that, I am being allowed to have real food. OK, real SOFT food, but food none-the-less! (I had only been allowed small sips or water and ice chips up to this point.) After 36 days, I was able to eat yogurt. It was the best vanilla yogurt ever! I was only able to eat about four spoonfuls before feeling full – the byproduct of having my stomach converted into my new esophagus. It’ll take a while to get my stomach to the point where I can eat more, so the feeding tube and I will still be together.
Today I head to an appointment with Dr. Robert Glasgow, my other surgeon, and we’ll see what he has to say. That’s the latest and greatest. Thanks again so very much for all the thoughts and prayers! It means the world to Lee and I.