Home > Jim > Now our race begins.

Now our race begins.

Jim:  Yesterday, the surgeon walks in, sits down and says, “This goes against my better judgement, but sometimes you just throw wisdom to the wind.”  Personally, I’m glad he is able to listen to his instincts, and change his mind after receiving new information.  Jim’s PET scan, from this June, is so radically different from last year’s June scan that Dr. Johnson does think he may make a difference in Jim’s survival.  So, the surgery is scheduled for July 8th, at 10:30. 

The Surgery

I thought I should describe exactly what this 3-6 hour surgery entails.  Basically, it’s two surgeries in one – removal of his esophagus & top 1/3 of his stomach, and reconstruction of the rest of his stomach into a new “esophagus,” attaching it & the arteries and veins that go with it, to the top 2 inches of the esophagus that will be left. 

First, they will make an incision below his sternum and take some biopsies of his liver.  If they find residual cancer that the scans aren’t picking up, then the surgery stops there.  If it’s good, then they will make another incision at his neck.  The idea is to take out everything in one piece, including the two lymph nodes that are still showing as hot spots on the PET scan.  If, for some reason, the stomach cannot be made into a new esophagus, then they will use a section of his colon.  Because of this possibility, Jim “gets” to take GoLightly, starting at 10:00 am Thursday.  He will also start taking some preventative antibiotics at the same time.  If, for some reason, the colon doesn’t work either, then they will stop the surgery and Jim would have an ostomy bag attached to the remaining esophagus.  (It would be able to be hidden under his shirt.)  The surgeon would go back and try again to attach something to his esophagus at a later date. 

Jim will also have a feeding tube “installed.”  It is considered a nutritional back up system.  If Jim has difficulty eating enough, then he can receive supplemental nutrition via a mechanical pump while sleeping.  The tube is tiny.  As Jim said, “It’s not like I’m going to have a garden hose attached to me.”  No matter what though, Jim will lose approximately 10 – 15% of his current body weight.  Fortunately, we have already changed what we eat to match what Jim will need.  (sigh of relief)  The only change we will need now is how we eat since Jim will need to eat 5 -6 small meals per day.

Jim is expecting to go back to work within 2 -3 months.  So, he won’t be nearly as frustrated as he was during chemo.  We are also moving so quickly because our nephew is expected to be born on August 8th, and we are really hoping to meet him at the hospital. 

Beckie: I am trying to figure out how to best handle Sarah so we aren’t disrupting or upsetting her too much.  I was lucky enough to talk to someone at the Santa Rosa hospital, who has 7 and 2 year olds at a great daycare.  It’s a little far away, but not as far as Johnson City, and Crystal couldn’t say enough good things about it.  That would keep both of us in San Antonio longer.  But honestly, I’ll play this by ear day-by-day.  Maybe I need to drive back and forth from the daycare in Johnson City to keep things more normal, or maybe Helen, Jim and I can simply take turns.  We’ll see…

Fortunately, I was thinking it would happen this fast.  Last week I scheduled my dental and eye appointments for this week.  Last week, I also researched upgrading my phone.  So, this Saturday I will get some new technology.  (Since I’m Jim’s secretary, I need it too.)  I also scheduled a family portrait sitting for Saturday.

Now you see why I’m calling it a race.

Categories: Jim
  1. Catherine Mitchell-Baker
    July 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    HI you guys ! I Am so happy for you that things are working out ! I am plannin on getting the directions to the Hospital from Jim in the next day or two and I am hopin to come down to San Antonio but not sure as of yet exactly which day I would be comming. Big Jerry left for Chicago this afternoon and Jerry Glenn starts class on the 6th. Ya’ll are in our thoughts and prayers though ! See ya’ll soon I promice ! ~ Love , Catherine

    • July 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Thanks for wanting to come down and support us. We’ll see you soon.
      With love and hugs,

  2. Harry and Patty Carpenter
    July 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Dear Jim and Beckie,
    You both have so much to handle but your attitudes are great and we know that you lean on our Lord, Jesus. We will be praying for you, Jim, through the surgery and for the total healing of your body. This is a really rough time in your lives. God never said that we would not have troubles but He did say that He would NEVER leave you nor forsake you. Both of you hold on to Him for your strength. We will stand with you.
    Love you,
    Harry and Patty

    • July 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you for your strong and supportive words. We appreciate your understanding and love.
      With love and hugs,

  3. Patti Tobolka
    July 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Jim and Beckie,

    You both are amazing people. All of you are in our thoughts and prayers. I am
    available to help with Sarah at any time and any place.

    Love you,
    Patti Tobolka

    • July 5, 2011 at 8:01 am

      Thank you, Patti. She is covered at the moment. I had thought of you for help with Sarah, so thanks very much for offering.

  4. Gary and Princess
    July 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    JIm and Beckie, It was great to see you in church yesterday and Sarah! You will all be in our thoughts and prayers this week as you face this surgery.
    God Bless.
    Gary and Princess

  5. Scott and Jensey Humphries
    July 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Praying that everything goes well tomorrow…

  6. Karen James
    July 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    We have been praying for you guys all day today and hoping that all has gone smoothly. Love to you all…Karen, Chad, and Hannah

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