Thursday, February 28, 2013

Surgery Update

It has been a long day for everyone and especially for Elaine. We should get the good news out right away - the surgery was a success!

Fred and Elaine arrived at the hospital before dawn for a 730 AM surgery. Ben and Staci were close behind. Elaine was mostly over her nervousness by this morning. She had a unbelievable staff of nurses, doctors, and hospital personnel from the moment she walked in the door. We are certain that helped with her demeanor.  And this nurse decked out in Chanel was seemingly made for Elaine!

They rolled her into surgery as scheduled at around 730. About two hours later, we heard the news that the surgery went well. The surgeon came down and explained that he found a small piece of the disc broken off. It literally popped up at him when he removed the rest of the disc. It was that little piece that was pinching a nerve in Elaine's neck. Normally, if you catch this early, you can have surgery and release the "pinch" and feel almost instant relief. However, Elaine's pinch has been there for some time so it will take some time for her to feel better - though we are not sure if that is measured in days or weeks. The Doctor was actually relieved to see the disc broken off. He felt much more optimistic that this would really help ease her pain. It is very painful to have a pinched nerve. Elaine was also relieved to hear that she wasn't crazy, or dreaming up the pain. During surgery, they replaced the bad disc with a cadaver. Elaine is very grateful to all the organ donors out there, as are we:)

After a long stint in recovery, Elaine was wheeled up to her room where Fred and Staci waited. She was still pretty groggy through this evening, but we are optimistic that she will feel ok when the anesthetic wears off.  She was in a fair amount of pain tonight, in her throat and both the front and back of her neck. She had a breathing tube in during surgery and in order to reach the nerves and her discs, they have to move over her esophagus, and trachea( and whatever else was in the way). Fred has put in a really long day at the hospital. We tried to get him to leave and take a break, but to no avail! There is not a more loyal caretaker!  He was over the moon to see Elaine being rolled into the room today, post op. Her first words out were, "I made it! I survived!"as she reached for his hand!  As we mentioned last night, Elaine was very nervous going into the surgery and not sure she was going to survive it. She's a fighter. There is no one like her! Keep those thoughts and prayers coming! We are cautiously optimistic that a pain free future awaits Elaine!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Hello! We said no news was good news. Unfortunately, you are hearing from us:(

We will start with some really great news though! Fred has his first follow up appointment today. It went as well as we could have hoped for. His PSA level is .05 which is as good as 0 for now. Hopefully it will continue to move to zero, which is where it needs to remain forever, but since surgery was only a few weeks ago, it is not expected to be there just yet. The doctor was pleased with Fred's progress, and Fred has been doing his Kegel exercises correctly. The nurse even did a stem test on him to verify. We are relieved and thrilled for this news! Fred has handled this all so courageously, and we are so proud of him.

Now on to the bad news . . .

Unfortunately, Elaine is having neck surgery in the morning. She has a herniated neck disc. This was confirmed through an MRI that was read by several doctors. We are very hopeful that this is the cause of her severe left arm pain. Unfortunately, it took longer that it should have to be diagnosed. Elaine has lived with this tremendous pain for so long.

Typically people that come in with this issue, their disc is sponge like and soft. Elaine's is like a rock and very hard. Under the usual circumstances, you wake up from surgery, and you feel instant relief. That will not be the case for Elaine. The doctor expects it to take 3-4 weeks until she starts to feel a difference. He does feel confident that this will ease her pain though.

We are heartbroken that Elaine is in so much pain and that she has to endure yet another operation. We have talked this through as a family, ultimately leaving up to Elaine to make the decision. She wants to have the surgery. She can't live with the pain, its unbearable (and Elaine has as high of a pain tolerance as anyone on the planet). She doesn't want to live with the drugs that she has to be on to get through the day either. This is the only choice, and one that hopefully will give her the relief she deserves.

It has been a very emotional few days for Elaine, and all of us. Surgery is never easy, and with all Elaine's complications and health issues, it is especially difficult. To say that Elaine is nervous would be an understatement. We all are. We know that she is as strong as they come, and that she is going to do great tomorrow.

Surgery is expected to be 1 1/2 -2 hours. We will be at the hospital bright and early as the surgery is scheduled for 7:30am. They initially said she would spend one night in the hospital, but because of her risk for internal bleeding, they are going to keep her until Saturday.

We thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayers. We ask that you please keep her in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow and over the next few days and weeks. We hope this is her last battle and that she will be pain free. We feel helpless and saddened for all that she has gone through. Elaine is amazing and a source of strength for all of us. Fred, her trusted sidekick has been great as well. He is having a hard time continuing to watch her be in such pain every minute of the day. She has been through enough!

Fred was helping her shower tonight. She was instructed not to have any hair gel or make up on. She was grateful she didn't go have her hair done today. In typical Elaine fashion, she was trying to figure out how she is going to sneak some make up in the hospital so she looks presentable:) We are optimistic that this surgery will be the answer we have been searching for. She has also been retaining a tremendous amount of fluid, so dragging that extra 15-20 pounds around is hard on her too. We are hoping that they can get rid of that in the hospital too. Elaine deserves to catch a break!

Again, thank you for your prayers and love. We were in the desert over the weekend and overwhelmed by how many people came up to us telling us they would be thinking about Elaine and asking us to please update them! We will blog tomorrow night with an update. We can't tell you how much we (especially Elaine) appreciate it and how much comfort we get from knowing you care!