Saturday, August 22, 2009


baby and me, Caledonia state park outing last week.
photo by Marian

Last week's MRI showed a smaller, deader (necrotizing & hemorrhaging) tumor & our surgeon was very optimistic about preserving the function of his arm. Probably. It looks from the MRI like the tumor abuts (but doesn't surround/embed) the brachioplexus, the arm's big nerve center. Ay. He also described for us (Reuben & I) where the very long incision will go (across his right clavicle, into the armpit, zigzag up here, then down there, then go around to the back to catch the biopsy incision, which probably pulled up some cancerous cells so has to be removed...). Half the time we're really excited for this to be DONE--get that cancer! and half the time we're just sick and cold to our cores about it.

Reuben's surgery was moved to Tuesday, and we'll be leaving mid-day Monday for Philly because we need to get there in time for R to get his blood drawn for a transfusion cross-match. Just in case...or is that for sure? How much blood loss will there be? I keep trying to imagine his surgery, then stop myself, because why do I want to see that? I was really preoccupied by the blood that must be involved, but the surgeon reminded me they cauterize blood vessels to keep it a "clean, bloodless procedure." Ay, the pictures that flood my mind...

This was fascinating: the main way the pathologists can tell if the procedure yielded clean margins (ie, got it all) is to daub the whole removed mass with India ink, freeze it, and then examine the very thin slices. If a microscopic examination shows healthy cells between the malignant and black ink, we're good. If not...well, it continues. "We're good", by the way, still means "two to four more rounds of chemo." Okay, then, looking forward to 2010. "Twenty-ten! We begin again!" has a nice ring to it.

This was scary: the surgeon estimated we'd be in hospital for just 2 or 3 nights. No way I am going to be feeling comfortable about leaving at that point. But also I'm so excited that we might make it home to see the girls off to their first day of school. Including a middle-school girl catching the bus at 7:04 am.

This preoccupies me this week: what can I dress a bulky-wrapped, so-painful shoulder baby in? My mind immediately says: "Summer=nudie baby!" But I disagree with myself a bit because a layer of clothing will protect both dressing and mama's heart. I want to sew something, but am uncertain...I think a kimono-style top or three with extra-wide sleeves, especially since this book (see the cover photos) is currently mine from the library. The other obvious problem is when I will be doing this sewing.


stgraham said...

What can I do to help you this week? Maybe you will let me borrow that book, and sew you one of those cute shirts while you are gone. I'll call.

sallyavena said...

I was thinking overalls with just the criss cross straps in the back that button on the front bib. What do you think? Or does the bandage area have to be covered? As I'm thinking...just a quick question, any color requests? Maybe I'll call too.

sjnagel said...

Horribly fascinating. I'm surprised to hear how long the incision has to be. He'll be the type of kid that can pull of a cool scar, I'm sure of it. Look how great he pulls off the Potter lightening bolt.

ahs said...

i can't believe mare was baptized! but then again, so was ellie. mare looks so beautiful. i am feeling a little nostalgic and sad that we missed it...we nashvillians are so spaced. reuben looks so great. we are rooting for him. i love the sling and the happy face attached