Dad's operation is tomorrow morning. He has to be at the hospital by 7.00am, and he's the first cab off the rank, so hopefully he'll be in surgery by no later than 8.00am. It's an all-day operation if everything goes smoothly.
Dad had his final appointment at RPH today before the op tomorrow. We met the surgeons- there are two. One is a cancer specialist, and he will be removing the cancerous tissue, and a ring of tissue surrounding it. He will also be taking out part of Dad oesophagus. The other surgeon specialises in reconstructive surgery, so he'll be doing the skin and tissue graft from Dad's left wrist to his throat (for his new oesophagus) and also the skin graft to Dad's wrist from his thigh. Complicated, I know. The surgeons were fantastic though, they answered all my questions quite compehensively, which was really reassuring. They also cracked a joke or two, which I think helped Dad feel more comfortable (which is so important)!
One of my main concerns when we originally found out Dad's oesophagus would be replaced was how he would be able to swallow. I don't know if you're all aware, but when we swallow, there are waves of muscular contractions that push the food down to the stomach, called peristalsis. As the surgeons are going to remove Dad's oesophagus (and the surrounding tissue), the muscles that push food into Dad's stomach will also be removed. I asked the surgeons, and their response was that as Dad still has the top bit of his oesophagus (and therefore the smooth muscle used for peristalsis) he should still be able to get food down pretty well after he's healed. What peristalsis won't be able to do, gravity should. The food might just need to have a bit more moisture so it'll slide down easier (sorry, Dad, guess that means no more dry weetbix for you).
The surgeons are also going to remove Dad's thyroid gland (which controls cell metabolism), which we found out today is also cancerous. Around the thyroid gland are four other glands, called the Parathyroid Glands. These glands control the amount of calcium in the blood and bones. They are apparently quite hard to distinguish from the thyroid or fat during surgery, so there is a chance that these glands will be damaged serverely. Even if one gland is left intact, Dad will be ok, but if they somehow manage to damage all of them, then Dad will have to be on calcium therapy, as well as medication to replace the hormones the thyroid normally produces. After surgery, the amount of calcium in Dads blood will have to be monitored very closely, as that will be an indication as to if they have managed to save or destroy the Parathyroids. If it's not monitored and the calcium in his blood drops below a certain level, he will die. No ifs, buts or maybes. The doctors will be doing at least two blood tests a day, but within a few hours post-op we should know what's happening.
Now, I'm not a religious person at all, but I do believe in a higher power or something. I also believe in the power of the mind. If you all could, please think of us during your prayers to the diety of your choice. Or pray to the Universe, Zeus, whoever or whatever the hell you can. It'll be much appreciated. Dad is a tough bugger, but a little extra help surely can't hurt.
I'd like to thank you all for reading this, even if you don't follow ASOFB on Blogger or whatever. It means a lot to know we're not alone.
I'll post as soon as I know how Dad's operation is going.
Lots of Love,