Yesterday (Wednesday) after my chemo I felt great- this always happens because of the steroids I get prior to chemo. It usually lasts a few days, then the “chemo flu” sets in. Bo was spending the night at his friend James’, and Johnny went to Mars Hill Church after work to do some painting for the church. The weather was about 80F at 5PM and Heather said “Let’s just go up to Whidbey Island for the night while you’re feeling well; I know you want to go up on the weekend but we don’t know how you will feel then.” Here was my wife reminding me to breathe every breath, carpe diem! Since Johnny was able to come home after church and be with Heather’s niece (also named Heather) who is staying with us over the summer, all was a go.

Our dear friend and neighbor Raymond was already at Whidbey checking on things so we called him and arranged to have dinner together. When we arrived he had already mowed the lawn, cleaned our fountain and was relaxing as the sun began to set. We brought some steaks and chicken and had a great meal together.

This morning (Thurs) we had a great breakfast, Raymond made a Dutch Boy, then we headed to the Outpatient Surgery Center at Northwest Hospital. I have had my liver tube changed several times so it has become rather routine for us. The procedure is done under a fluoroscope, the coolest piece of equipment in the hospital I have experienced. It is motion picture x-ray along with injected dye. You may recall this was how the connection between my liver and colon was originally discovered.

I asked Heather to stay with me because I knew we were going to learn a lot this time between reviewing the latest CT scan again and viewing the results of the fluoroscope images. While she could not be present during the procedure because of the radiation, she could meet with me and Dr Whipple, my favorite interventional radiologist. Dr Lee and Dr Whipple had talked previously so the initial conversation was really bringing us up to speed. Dr. Whipple felt based on the low drainage, the degree of pain and risk/reward, it was time to pull the tube altogether. This was a complete shock to us- we were expecting a tube downsize.

Removing the tube is not without risk; there could be fluid build-up in the liver or drainage of fluid into the abdomen and infection. He felt the risk of infection was low since the fluid will still be able to drain through the scar tissue tube left after the liver tube is removed. But that will quickly seal off as it heals. If fluid builds up after that we can always put in a new tube. I asked him if we could look at the liver with the fluoroscope before we did the procedure. We did this without pain medicine and before we started I began to shed a few tears, mainly from shock that finally my tube might be removed, finally I could run with my son Bo, finally I could take friends out on the boat fishing at Whidbey, finally I could actually plan a trip and not have to cancel.

The results of the fluoroscope with dye confirmed this was the right decision. The abscess did not appear to be filled with fluid and what has been draining could just as likely be dead or live tumor tissue. The fluoroscope picture is on the left. I spoke with Dr Lee by phone while on my back in the operating room and we reviewed all the results and he agreed with liver-with-tube.JPGeverything Dr Whipple said. He also said if were him, he would do it. He, more than anyone, knows the pain and frustration the tube has caused over the last 9 months. He and Heather and Skip knew what my tears really meant as they began to flow when I realized the epochal significance of this day.

I told them to go ahead with the procedure with the pain medication-Versed. They gave me the normal dose which should have put me out; I never went out, no doubt due to the emotional gravity of the procedure. Before I knew it the tube was out and Heather was able to join us. We wereliver-without-tube.JPG able to take a few pictures and I was taken back to my room for a short 10 minute recovery. The picture on the right is the liver after the tube has been removed.

The first thing I noticed is there was no pain in the liver area. The second thing I noticed was I could stand, bend over and touch my toes. The third thing I noticed is I could put on my sandals without help.

This is truly a milestone and miracle day for all of us- family, physicians and nurses, and all of you that I know have been praying for a day like this. The picture on the left is right after the procedure- left to right- me, Dr Whipple and the diagnostic radiology technician. Now we can get on with kicking butt on this cancer. I ask for your prayers over the next 2 weeks for healing of the scar tissue connecting the liver with my ski This is a perfect opportunity for you to save on your baclofen buy, because we offer it only for 0.86 USD! All is legal and real! dr-whipple-and-team.JPGn, that there would be no infection, and any fluids from the tumor would be reabsorbed or exit the fistula and large intestine that have no function with the ostomy in place.

We all know what a roller coaster ride this cancer journey has been so we continue to breathe every breath and live every day knowing that we could be surprised by disappointing news that may result in a new liver tube or a more serious medical issue. It is just as likely that everything could go smooth and I am truly without a liver tube again. The huge advantage we have over medicine alone is:

God is good, all the time, God is good!

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5 Comments so far

  1. stan on July 26, 2007 11:34 pm

    what an exciting day !!! Praise God..and thanks for sharing the details….the inspirations and the journey.

    thanks for being an Overcomer for the Lord….

    ” I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ” – John 16:33


    Have a fantastic weekend….and our prayers continue, even while roaming around…..


  2. Jaime Hestad on July 27, 2007 2:03 pm

    WAHOOOO!!! I am THRILLED for you, Don!!! I love these kind of surprises!!!

  3. Jake on July 27, 2007 2:20 pm

    I love that picture of your tubeless liver! Praise God!

  4. gregu on July 28, 2007 9:04 am

    Such great news! I”ve been offline w Kristen and the family down in CA at my in-laws, so I just caught up on Malibu and the liver tube removal. I’m so glad you have that gone and we continue our daily prayers for you, the family and medical staff.
    Love to see you soon –


  5. Larisa Kaukonen on July 30, 2007 12:31 pm

    What great news about the liver tube! It’s an answer to prayers… Halleujah!


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