Catching Up

Here I sit, ten days after my last entry, recuperating from two successive weeks of surgery.  Last Friday I spent two nights in the hospital at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), one of the best teaching hospitals in the country.  The surgery occurred on Friday, October 10 and lasted about two and one-half hours.  I was in the recovery room for about three hours.  The surgeon, Dr. Norton, excised both the schwannoma in my leg and the lipoma in my shoulder blade, both on the left side.  The stay in the hospital was made much less unpleasant by the kind and courteous staff, and, in spite of much pain, I remained comfortable.  At one time, last Saturday, there were ten visitors at once!

Getting up the stairs on Sunday morning was no picnic.  I had to sit on each stair and push myself up to the next one with my good leg.  I couldn’t use crutches because of the lipoma incision.  I’ve spent practically all of the last week lying in bed, doing mindful breathing, reading, and trying to get some work done.  There was a lot of excitement this week, as Network General and McAfee are merging, and I missed all of the parties and announcements.  On Thursday, I finally went out to see Dr. Norton, and yesterday I managed one half-hour sitting by the water in Sausalito.  Dr. Norton said that the preliminary report on both biopsies was that they were benign.

I’ve had a mild case of post-operative depression, as I feel much like an invalid, having to use a walker or crutches to get around.  Everything is starting to move forward now, however, and I expect to take part in some social activities this weekend.  Wednesday, I see Dr. Norton and perhaps have the first of a series of BCG treatments in my bladder.


An Unhappy Birthday to Me!

Today I turned 58, but what a miserable day it was.  As you may know, last Friday I had my cystoscopy and biopsy under anesthesia at Marin General Hospital.  The results were not favorable, but also not so bad.  There was some microscopic cancer still on the bladder wall, but Dr. Neuwirth thought that it could be removed with one or two six week treatments of BCG.  The cancer was down to grade I or II, so, all in all, it is slowly going out of my system.  The BCG treatments start next Wednesday.

This morning, we went to the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to meet with Dr. Norton about the schwannoma.  I expected a forty-five minute visit followed by a nice lunch at the Cliff House and a stroll through the de Young Museum or the Palace of the Legion of Honor.  This would have been a lovely way to spend my 58th birthday, but Dr. Norton changed all my plans.  He wanted to remove the schwannoma on Friday – the day after tomorrow!  Dr. Gullion supported his plan, and it seemed reasonable based on getting that thing out of my leg before the BCG treatments begin.  I was in a state of shock about the urgency in his analysis of my problems.  He went so far as to say that the lipoma on my left shoulder blade should also come out.  So I spent the rest of the day registering for the surgery on Friday.

I was a bit disappointed because I had worked so hard to get appointments with neurosurgeons next Monday.  I thought that because the schwannoma was a nerve sheath tumor, it should be removed by a neurosurgeon.  Dr. Gullion did not share my ideas about the neurosurgeon.  He thought that Dr. Norton was better because he understood the oncology.  Dr. Norton has done many of these, so I feel confident in him, but the schwannoma will be gone before I have a chance to see the other surgeons.


A Confusing Day with Surgeons

When I first spoke with Dr. Gullion about the schwannoma, he referred me to Dr. Warren, a doctor at UCSF to do the surgery.  On Monday, his office called me to say that Dr. Warren was going to be out of town for the next few weeks and recommended that I see Dr. Norton.  Well, in tune with my attitude about doing the best possible research, I didn’t want to see Dr. Norton without checking into the matter more fully.  So, I asked Dr. Gullion what he thought, and he wanted me to speak with Dr. Warren first.  Dr. Gullion finally called me back this morning at 11:00, while my appointment with Dr. Norton was at 10:45.  I also had an appointment with Dr. Warren, so I missed both of them through all of the confusion.  The point of all of this is that I want to be very careful about who keeps me from playing tennis for any period of time due to the surgery on my leg.

I finally took some time away with my wife over the weekend.  After seeing Leslie Davenport on Friday, we took off to Gualala, a small town on the Mendocino coast.  We spent two nights in different motels, each equipped with a Jacuzzi in the room.  We had a wonderful time.  The beach at Gualala is beautiful and awe inspiring.