S has been a good patient and the nurses have shown me how to help him into his neck brace. The stitches come out on Friday. Saturday morning I get a crash course in how to wash his hair around the brace and then they say he can come home if he promises to stay in his futon for a week or two. He's considering using a taxi instead of his original plan to get one train to Shinjuku, walk through one of the world's busiest stations to catch another train out to our station. I'm grateful that the doctor, nurses and our friends who have visited him have encouraged him along this line.


S is Stable

I went with S yesterday with my lists of questions which the surgeon seemed pleased to be asked and then we listened to all the other nurses and personnel explain their jobs and what to expect for S's surgery today. I was able to get the kids off to school, run a few errands, go to my old oncologist to demand (for the 3rd time) that cell samples from my tumor from two years ago be sent to the National Cancer Center before going to S's hospital downtown and waiting for the morning surgery to be finished. I turned out that the samples had been sent the very day of my appointment earlier this week so I'll take the package of blank glass slides back to the NCC when I go in January. I managed to arrive at S's hospital before the surgery was finished.

The surgeon leaned out the consultation room and called my name around 11:45 so I went on in to find that he had entered from the sterile operating theater side of the room, leaving his sterile shoes behind the heavy door where they wouldn't pick up consultation room germs or so I assume. I had to smile at the effect, a bare foot surgeon in his green cap and scrubs confirming that the surgery went well and that 4 of S's vertebrae had been "improved" with titanium spacers and screws. A search for laminoplasty revealed many illustrations of the procedure.

The doctor was all smiles and happy to comfort me that I'd be able to see and accompany my dearest husband as they wheeled him by in his bed back to his 6 person room in a few moments. S was fairly groggy and in a little pain, as expected, but seemed to relax about half an hour after the morphine drip finished.

I stayed most of the afternoon as my former host mother was home with the kids (Thank you K.Y. san) and I wanted to make sure he was breathing OK after they took him off the oxygen later in the afternoon. Feet and hands are all in working order so there was no nerve damage from the surgery. He was disappointed that the feeling in his hands (the reason he was so concerned about getting surgery in the first place) didn't return immediately after the surgery. I have trouble believing he really thought that the compressed nerves would bounce back to tip-top shape within minutes of surgery. :-) I expect that he'll always remain a little numb, but less so than before and that the numbing will not progress now that he's had the surgery.

It'll be Tuesday before he can get out of bed and go to the bathroom and I think being immobile may be almost as hard on him as surgery. I'm relieved things went well but the image of the barefoot 50 something surgeon on the clean white floor outside the operating theater will remain in my brain as one of those "Japan Moments


200th Post!

According to blogger dot com, this is my 200th post.

S came back from his consultation with the cervical spine specialist (who also happens to be a neurosurgeon ) at the downtown hospital my downstairs cancer survivor neighbor (who happened to be the chairman of the Tokyo Nursing Education Association years ago and is a treasure trove of knowledge) recommended. He said that the doctor "saw through" him right away, saying that the condition was not from a softball injury and scolded him for abusing his body through macho overexertion over the years, telling him that he probably had bad teeth too from the looks of his spine in the MRI and CT scan images. BINGO! S immediately trusted him and opened up about how much help he is hoping to get. I know that he always tries harder than he should if anyone is watching when he does things like judo, softball, pounding rice cakes or rescuing damsels in distress by lifting their cars out of ditches.

The doctor did tell him that with surgery, he can expect much recovery of the lost sensations in his arms and he even called around at the hospital to arrange all the necessary personel to go ahead with the surgery as early as possible. S and I will go next Thursday to check him in and he'll have surgery to decompress the nerves in his 3rd and 4th vertibrae on the 15th. He should be able to come home on the 25th (which isn't a holiday here). I have many questions for the doctor when we go on Thursday.

I expect I'll be quite busy for a while and may not be posting much but I will try to keep in touch.


I am so THICK!

I got all the way to the Cancer Center, arriving a little early even, only to have the reception computer reject my card as "no appointment on record." I waited until 8:30 when the nice people at the reception desk started fielding questions. They showed me that I'm scheduled for next Wednesday, not today. In retrospect, when I'd spoken with Dr. F on the phone to reschedule I remember hearing "December 6th" and making a memo on the calendar but then deciding that the 13th would be safer in terms of making sure my cell samples had arrived and been re-examined. Our calendar has appointments penned in on both dates and I, anxious to hear what he has to say, didn't even think of calling to reconfirm which was correct. It was a wasted 2 hours there and back on the train, but I did find a better way to get a seat on the subway; get on a train in the opposite direction, go one stop away from the center of the city and change to the train going back through Shinjuku and on to Tsukiji. Everyone and their cousin seem to get the train at Shinjuku, so the platform is very crowded, but the platform one station away in the "wrong" direction was deserted.

When I arrived home much earlier than S expected me to, I found J sleeping in her futon with the same stomach bug that L and then N had last Friday and Sunday respectively. She seems a little better than they did, but not well enough to go to school today or tomorrow. Who's next? Nobody, I hope.


S Brought His CT Scan & MRI Images Home

He hasn't said much about what he was told at his appointment today other than that the doctors at that hospital admit they are not spine specialists. When I told him about a better hospital in downtown Tokyo with some cervical spine specialists and that he should get the images from his test so they could look at them instead of starting from scratch should he decide to go for a second opinion, he must have been listening. He came home and pulled out my horribly written memo with contact information for the better hospital and called to make an appointment there on Thursday afternoon. I hope that the new place will have more specific information for him and that he will let them help him.


Friday found us with a sick boy but L's stomach bug cleared up by Saturday afternoon and nobody else caught it, or so we thought, until N began throwing up at 4a.m. today. She was very disappointed to miss a field trip to the local mayonnaise factory with her class. J and M raved about how exciting it was when their classes went.


shows some of the fancy machines that her classmates are watching as I type.

I called the factory to inquire about openings for a family tour later this month and was able to reserve 5 spots on the last tour of the year at 1:00p.m. on Christmas Day. They close the plant for 2 weeks from the 26th. Natalie is very happy that she'll get to do the tour after all even if it's on Christmas Day. The elementary school children have school in the morning that day and are expected to help with the year-end cleaning and pick up their report cards to bring home. I think that J finishes for the year on the Friday before, but I may be mistaken. No photos are allowed within the factory, but we may take our Tarako Kewpie costume for a shot at the gate as this is the manufacturer of that product.

S is off getting results for his spinal CT scan this morning and I postponed my head ultra-sound to next Monday morning so poor N wouldn't have to be all alone in her misery. She's very good about using her bucket. Here's hoping that nobody else gets this bug so I won't have to postpone my Wednesday onco. appointment yet again.