Daily Archives: July 5, 2011

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A Gutsy Tale

July 5, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

by Monica Stoner, Member at Large

This is a self indulgent blog, about my life this last month. It has little to do with writing but a lot to do with surviving life.

I’ve always found it easier to deal with a situation if I’m as informed as possible, so I have spent time researching the Whipple surgical procedure – the history, the odds of success, the improvements in survival.  I’ve learned as much as possible about roadblocks to recovery and about potential drawbacks of this specific procedure as well as any surgery.  To be well informed is to be ready for most any eventuality.

Imagine, though, how the neighborhood of the digestive system would feel about having a portion of their community removed without warning.  Would it go something like:

 â€œMan, what hit us last night? I don’t remember any kind of party, do you Harry?  Harry?  Where’s Harry.  And – Bob?  What are you doing over here, you’re supposed to be over on the other loop.”

“Yeah, and it looks like someone took a hunk out of the Pancreas.  What went on here last night, some sort of rave?”

 â€œHey, that pushy guy is gone, the one who was squatting at the end of the duct and kept encroaching on everyone’s property.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Anyone know what happened to him?”

“It’s like there was a riot or something and they cleaned out part of the neighborhood.  Man, I’m hungry.  Any chance we could get some food down here?”

The research and subsequent flight into fantasy have to do with what has gone on since my May blog.  Some of you have met Tom, my very talented artist husband, or you’ve heard me talk about him.  Shortly before the May 19 blog, I noticed a new glow to his skin, as in yellow bright enough to be an extra on the Simpson’s.  Jaundice.  Tests ensued, first outpatient then in the hospital where the doctors worked to keep him going while they tried to pin down the cause. 

Turned out it was a tumor blocking the duct.  Good news, it was encapsulated and there didn’t seem to be any lymph involvement.  Bad news, the treatment is the most complex gastro intestinal surgery possible, with a low possibility of success.  Since the other options were not surviving, we chose door number one.

Tom asked for his brother the day before the surgery and at midnight I met him at the Albuquerque airport.  Pre surgery was like a tag team comedy routine, then we went to wait.  And wait.  Seven plus hours all told before the surgeon told us he was happy with his part of the procedure but warned us this was just the first step.

We’ve had two steps forward and one step back, often those steps are shuffling baby steps.  When we thought we’d beaten the odds he ended up back in ICU, having aspirated bile and at risk of pneumonia.  I’ve gotten to know my quirky brother in law, who was part of a special unit in VietNam, and has the stories to share.  I met a nurse who came from Iran when she was ten and the shelling got so bad in her village, it wasn’t safe for her to live there any longer.   So many people, so many stories.  For someone who chose to live far out and away from people it’s been an experience.

Thanks for listening.

Writing as Mona Karel, Monica Stoner’s first book, MY KILLER MY LOVE, was released on May 25, 2011 from Black Opal Books.

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