Cancer Updates IRL

The Biliary Stent Procedure Was Unsuccessful

In another setback to my cancer treatment, the biliary stent procedure I underwent earlier this week was unfortunately not successful.

Laying on the procedure table on my side, my body was contorted like a pretzel. My right knee raised while my leg below was fully stretched out with my butt in the air.  I had been in this position before when I performed a colonoscopy and I had this eery feeling that they were planning to do another one. 

Wait, I was doing an endoscopy, I thought? Isn’t that through the throat and not the anus?

Either way, I could feel the sedative coursing through my body so all I could do was lay there in my splattered, face down (more to the side-ish) position. From above, it looked like I was in an uncompromised position where I had just fallen 10 stories face first to the ground – completely unable to move. 

I was hoping to be knocked out for this but the anesthesiologist informed me that I would be sedated instead because I could handle the endoscopy. The next thing I knew, there was a big, bright light in my face and a large hose shoved down my throat.

All concept of time was lost while I was in there. The only thing that anchored me was a digital clock hung on the wall with bright red letters that spelled out the time. It was 4:35 pm when I first laid down and it chimed 6:00 pm by the time the hose was pulled out of me and I was wheeled to the recovery area.

The first person I saw in recovery was my friend, Chanika. My wife mentioned that she was going to drop by and it was a pleasant surprise to see her greet me. I’ve always enjoyed her witty demeanor and she couldn’t hide her big smile underneath her mask. I’m not entirely sure what we spoke about but my wife appeared shortly after and told me the news.

“There’s no stent. The tumor had progressed and blocked the biliary duct to the point that it was no longer possible to install the stent”.

For a second, I thought my wife was pulling my leg as I have done numerous times to her before. She was rather direct and on the nose so my joking smile quickly disappeared as the gravity of the situation started to set in – the procedure didn’t go along as planned.

I wasn’t in any particular pain at this point – likely due to the anesthesia I was still under but my heart sank. I knew the implication this had on everything. Chemotherapy was going to be a long shot.

My wife sat with me and held my hand while I processed all of this.

The Surgeon appeared as well and confirmed what my wife had told me and also informed me that I was going to be taken to the Surgery Intensive Care Unit (SICU) for observation for 4 hours to make sure I didn’t develop any severe pancreatitis symptoms from the procedure, namely vomiting and severe abdominal pain.

A couple of orderlies wheeled me to the SICU where I continued to rest for a few hours before I was allowed back to my room. The worst part of all of this was that no one was allowed in to see me while I was in the SICU. It was just me, myself, and my thoughts. My god, I could have really used my phone and headphones in here to pass the time. Instead, I was serenaded by the beeping sounds of the machines that kept track of my vitals. This was not the BPM I was looking for.

By the time I settled into the SICU, I hadn’t eaten anything solid for 12 hours and also hadn’t had anything to drink for 8 hours. Somehow, I was hanging in there although desperately wanting to get out of my SICU imprisonment.

While I was lying there, I also remembered what happened very early that same morning around 5 am. I was having a very vivid dream where I was speaking to someone and letting them know that things were not going to be okay. I’m not entirely sure who I was speaking to but I had heavy, heavy tears in my eyes while I spoke to this individual. I woke up from the dream shortly after to find tears in my eyes and an overwhelming sense of sadness enveloping me. I shot out of bed and straight into the bathroom. I flicked the light on and rubbed my throbbing eyes that had hurt so much from crying just moments before. I managed to compose myself and go back to sleep but looking back at it all, it definitely felt like an omen of sorts for what is to come.

At 11 pm, I was finally allowed to go back to my room where I reunited with my wife. Both of us commiserated at the day both of us just had and had some speculative discussions about how we move forward from here.

I managed to get through the night and was discharged the following day. I’ve been home for a few days now still recovering from the procedure but slowly and surely getting my strength back. 

For next steps, I will be visiting with my Oncologist on Monday (July 25) to discuss where to go from here and we’re hoping to have more clarity on everything then. Overall, I’m disappointed that the procedure didn’t go according to plan so I’m eager to understand all the remaining options for my treatment.

Lastly, I’ve been inundated with messages this past week and I wanted to let you know all know that I’ve read them all! THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time to reach out to me. I spend the majority of my day resting/sleeping which causes a lot of the messages I received to not be replied to. Please don’t think I’m ignoring you in any way. <3

Thank you so much for all the support and please continue to have me in your thoughts and prayers. More updates next week!