Chapter 18: Pre-Op Appointment – COMPLETE

Today I had the chance to see the Duke Cancer Center in person. It is quite a place. The valet parking was again the golden ticket and it was 3-rows deep with parked cars! This place is very busy!

This time we were in the Morris Building which is where they have different clinics. We had to report to Clinic 2D – Pre-Anesthesia Testing Clinic. This is where they make sure those heading into surgery soon are “as physically safe as possible and prepared for surgery.” At check-in Don charmed the receptionist, like he always likes to do, by telling jokes. This time he replied “I have never heard of her” when she asked if Stephanie was his emergency contact. She laughed and told him he might get beat up by me on the way home if he kept that up. Don has a wonderful way of using humor to put people at ease. I’m sure the staff there see lots of people all day long who are probably sick, exhausted, scared or any combination of those. Based on my observations, the staff appreciate it when a visitor (patient or family member) can lighten things up a bit. And Don is great at knowing when it is appropriate, or not. I love this about him.

They were running an hour behind, but what do you expect at a 2:30 pm appointment? I remember learning the hard way during pre-natal visits — morning appointments are quick, afternoon appointments are slow! So we went to the food court for a late lunch and killed some time. I even went into the Duke Bookstore to explore parking pass options. YOU KNOW THIS TAR HEEL DID NOT BUY ANYTHING IN THE STORE! I am a big fan of excellent medical care, but I do have my limits!


Eventually it was our turn and we met with a couple of RNs and PA who checked the following with Don: vitals, current pain (none), gave him eating/bathing instructions for surgery day, physical exam, review of meds & medical history, signing of anesthesia consent, labs (apparently you have not had labs unless they are done there) and they gave him an EKG — everything looks good.

When Mary Ann the PA greeted us, the first thing she said was, “You need to know that I had a close friend who had this same surgery with this same surgeon last year – and you are in great hands!” She didn’t have to tell us that. But I’m glad she did. We already felt like we were at the right place, but that was even more reassuring. We learned that he will most likely be in the hospital for 5 days; or maybe less, if his recovery is good and post-op pain is manageable. She described the procedure a bit — if it is laparoscopic the pain will be lower and recovery quicker, if its full incision, the pain will be more intense and recovery slower. At this point, we are pretty sure the surgeon will start laparoscopically to “look around” but most likely will end up doing an incision to complete the tumor reduction/liver resection as needed. Don will get an epidural which will numb his torso in all the right places, which is good. Afterwards he and I can compare epidural stories, since I had two of them, one for each c-section. He was able to crack a few jokes about the urinary catheter (what man is not worried about that?) which kept us all smiling.

Don will get a call the day before surgery to confirm what time we need to arrive on the 14th. If he’s the first case of the day, we will have to arrive at 6:30 am. Oy. I did not get info about what he will need at home when he is discharged, because I realized that we need to get on the other side of surgery to know exactly what he will need. My parents will be here that week to stay home with the boys while I drive to & from Durham each day. They will bring the boys to visit a day or so after surgery plus drive them around to swim practices and other commitments. Anyway, I think we are as ready as we can be for the big day.

Special thanks to the D family for taking Sam to dinner & football practice tonight while we were tangled up in Durham, and to my friends S and L who were on standby, ready to give Colin a ride home from his driving lesson. Turns out we made it back right on time to pick him up. Yes – I said driving lesson! Yes – we have that insanity on our horizon, as well. The instructor was very kind and told us what a polite young man Colin was, and also that he did just fine behind the wheel. So, please cross your fingers for us, we need good luck on several fronts! And this is why we know it takes a village… We are so grateful for our village. XXOO



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