I have more good news to report: John came home from the hospital this afternoon! He has two drainage bags still attached to his abdomen, but they look practically empty. Eventually, his home care nurse will remove them. In the meantime she’ll be checking on him daily.
Thank you again for all your prayers and support!
The surgeon who checked in on John this morning was concerned that his abscess had not been drained yet. He said that Monday was way too long to wait and he would definitely push for it today.
Just to give a bit of background, when they insert the tubes through his skin to drain the infected fluid from his abdomen, they use medical imaging for guidance. Apparently the CT scan machine that they normally use was undergoing maintenance, but by using ultrasound instead, they were able to do the procedure this morning. Thank You, Lord! What an answer to prayer. John came back to his room to find lunch waiting for him: jello, broth and orange juice.
It may take a few days for the abscess to be fully drained. By this evening, John said that his pain had already started to subside a little. We still haven’t heard when exactly he will be able to come home, but at least we are one step closer to that happening.
I know our church was lifting us up in prayer last night at the weekly prayer meeting, and many others were praying as well, so thank you! I’m so grateful to the brothers and sisters in Christ who have brought us meals and helped in practical ways (you know who you are). Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Today was Maggie’s birthday, by the way. Daisy’s was last week, and thankfully John was still at home then. Although he didn’t get to be with us in person today, he still joined in watching her open her present and blow out her candles via FaceTime. She was a very happy three-year-old. All in all, it was a very good day.
John wasn’t able to have the drains put in today. Unfortunately, unless there is a cancellation, he won’t be able to get them until Monday. At least his pain is under control and he is able to rest. His fever that he had last night is gone too. They moved him to the inpatient surgery unit this morning and are keeping him on a diet of ice chips so he will be ready just in case there is a spot to fit him in. Thanks for all your messages of encouragement and prayers. They mean a lot. Please pray that God will make a way for him to get the procedure he needs, that Lord-willing he can come home to us sooner rather than later.
John seemed to be doing so well last week, but over the past couple days the pain in his belly increased unbearably. Tonight, an emergency CT scan revealed that he has a 12-inch abscess in his abdomen, something that the ER doctor said tends to present itself around this time, two weeks post-surgery. It basically means that a great deal of pus is accumulating in his belly as his immune system mobilizes to fight infection. The pressure from the pus is causing his pain. Tomorrow they will drain it and likely give him antibiotics. He will have to stay in the hospital for four to five days. While I can’t say we’re thrilled about this, it is a relief to know the cause of his sudden severe pain and that they can fix it soon. I’m also thankful that he didn’t have to wait very long in the ER this afternoon. He went in around 2 and had the CT scan around 7:30. In the meantime, he got to be in a private room with his own bathroom and they gave him morphine to cope with the pain. The kids and I got to FaceTime him while we ate our supper (still no visitors allowed obviously). Please keep us in your prayers as we get through the rest of this week!
Great news, everyone! John came home from the hospital today. He is still quite tired and sore, as to be expected, but the surgeon said the stoma reversal went well. Praise God!
I know many of you were praying for John today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! His surgery got delayed by over two hours, and when he woke up about two more hours after that, he texted me to say, “I am alive.” What a welcome message that was. He was able to call and say hi to the kids too. Since visitors are still not allowed at the hospital right now, I’m glad we can stay connected through our phones. Tonight he was tired and in a bit of pain, but otherwise “great,” eating jello and drinking clear liquids. Lord willing, he should be discharged in a few days once he is eating a normal diet and his bowels start functioning again. Our daughters both have birthdays coming up in the next couple of weeks (turning 5 and 3) so it would be the best present of all to have Daddy home. Whatever happens, I know we remain in God’s hands, and as always we are immeasurably grateful for your prayers.
“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
Psalm 33:22 ESV
It’s almost time to mix up this drink again! John’s CT scan is happening Monday, January 27. He has a follow-up appointment with the oncologist booked for the following Tuesday, February 4. As you may recall, the doctors are hoping to find out how much cancer is left in his liver, and where, so they can decide what to do about it. After that, the colorectal surgeon will discuss reversing the stoma and reactivating his colon.
Many are asking how John is doing. He is keeping busy as usual with his software development/consulting work. The fact that he is able to work from home has been such a blessing, and it meant that he didn’t have to take much time off after the surgery. He is still slowly gaining back all the weight he lost in the hospital. He says it still hurts a little to cough but other than that he seems to have fully recovered from the surgery. Let’s put it this way: he got the all-clear to lift small children and shovel snow again. (Yay!) He’s getting used to having the ostomy bag, and all that entails (changing and emptying it as needed). At first it was a two-person job but now I don’t even notice when he gets up in the middle of the night to empty it. I guess he would say it’s a minor inconvenience. There are much worse things.
It was almost a year ago when I first sent my desperate prayer request to as many brothers and sisters in Christ as I possibly could and John created this blog to keep everyone updated. Thank you for sticking it out with us for this long!
In summary, John is alive and well right now and we praise God for that. Thank you for continuing to pray for us, as God continues to provide abundantly for all our needs. You can expect another update from us after we talk to the oncologist in February. Until then, may God our Father surround you with His grace and peace.
It’s been three weeks since John’s ileostomy and we are adjusting to his new (hopefully temporary) lifestyle. As the stoma nurse put it, his colon has been put on holiday for awhile (she guessed about six months) until his rectum heals from the two surgeries. That means that for now, all his food is passing through his small intestine then exiting his body through an opening in his right side called a stoma. There is a sealed bag around his stoma that has to be emptied several times a day. He must add extra sodium and potassium to his diet and drink lots of water to make up for what is not being absorbed by his colon. For the time being, he also has to avoid certain foods that might increase the risk of a blockage which could land him back in the hospital.
He doesn’t have a lot of energy these days but he manages to make it up and down the stairs at least once (sometimes twice) a day and he is able to walk to the bathroom and kitchen table for most meals. He has even been able to sit at his desk for short periods of time, allowing him to catch up on some work. He has a post-op appointment with the surgeon next Friday, so hopefully by then he will be ready to be out and about.
He definitely lost weight in the hospital; he’s about 20 lbs. thinner than he was before the surgery. He has not lost his sense of humour though. This morning one of the kids did something that made him laugh so hard it made his incision hurt. He’s glad to be home, glad to be alive. He asked me to write this update just to let you all know that he’s doing ok and to thank you once again for your prayers and support!
John is back! He came home from the hospital this afternoon.
His body still has lots of healing to do, but I’m glad he can do it in the comfort of our own home now.
Somehow we survived the past two weeks, but I couldn’t have done it alone. To all the people who brought us meals, babysat our kids, or visited John in the hospital, I want to say an extra special thank you! The words of Matthew 25:34-40 ring true: “I was sick and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]” (The Amplified Bible).
This blog has readers from far and wide who faithfully pray for us and send us encouraging messages. God often used your words to speak comfort and hope to me when I needed it the most. So thank you.
Our journey isn’t over yet, but tonight I am filled with gratitude as I look back at how far we have come.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7 ESV
Today was John’s eleventh day in hospital. Since the last time I wrote, he has been slowly recovering in the surgical ward. He is still working on strengthening his lungs with the spirometer. He still hasn’t been able to produce a real, strong cough yet, which is concerning. He also had a mild fever at one point last night. Because of these concerns, they are going to do another CT scan on him tomorrow (Sunday).
On the positive side, his ostomy started working so he was allowed to start eating again on Wednesday. After not being permitted to eat for a full week (since 11 am on October 29, to be exact) he is slowly regaining his strength. His hemoglobin levels have improved but are still on the low side. He feels quite exhausted but the pain is manageable. He’s no longer on intravenous drugs for that but is able to take oral painkillers as needed (which hasn’t been very often the past couple days).
Obviously, recovery will take some time. Unfortunately, no one can tell us exactly how long it will be until he can come home. Aside from the above-mentioned concerns, they also want him to regain a little more mobility before he goes home. He is able to get up and sit in a chair for his meals but hasn’t had the strength to go for a walk yet. The physiotherapist was hoping maybe by Monday he will have improved enough to attempt that.
John’s sister told me that her kids were asking when Uncle John will be able to come home. When she said we don’t know yet, one of them stated confidently, “God knows!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7 ESV