Post-Surgery Update

It’s now been ten days since my surgery and I am finally able to get up enough energy and endurance to be at the computer for a few moments. My last blog entry ended as I was leaving for the hospital so I thought perhaps I owed everyone an update.

Going into surgery there were more unknowns than knowns and I admit I was more nervous than facing a Randy Johnson fastball. Everyone around me did their best to try and get me to relax but the fact remained, I was about to go into surgery and the Diamondbacks had two games remaining in the home stand against the Baltimore Orioles. How could I possibly relax?

Post SurgeryMy medical care was never a question; I would be at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, which of course is the official hospital of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team of doctors was among the best in the country. Still I’ll admit it, I was uneasy.

I laid on the gurney as the medical staff peppered me with questions and poked me with needles. After the tenth or twelfth time where they asked me to repeat my name I wondered if perhaps I was in the wrong spot. I had an unknown mass in my abdomen not amnesia. And yes I was kidding when I said that I had one transfusion after the 2006 season when they removed all my purple and teal blood and replaced it with Sedona Red (and black on Saturdays at home).

I was perhaps most upset when they told me I couldn’t wear my Diamondbacks hat into surgery. “But doc, how are the other operating room patients going to know I back the Dbacks if I don’t have my hat on? Wait, I can’t wear my Diamondbacks boxer shorts or my jersey either? I thought you were the official hospital of the Arizona Diamondbacks?” I think it was after that last question that the surgical staff had about enough of me because with one twist of a tube and a small needle I don’t remember much after that.

The surgery lasted most of the morning (or so they tell me). During this time they did find the unidentified mass that was causing so many problems (I named it Puig). They found that Puig was a floater and not connected to my spleen, my pancreas, my lymph nodes or any other vital or semi-vital organ. Puig was just wandering around my stomach area annoying the crap out of everyone and not respecting the other organs.

The doctor removed Puig (why can’t it be that easy in baseball?) and sent the mass to pathology. I asked if they were testing Puig for steroid usage but everyone just stared at me so I’m guessing the answer was no. Pathology determined that the tumor (new classification) was non-cancerous (queue the marching band or at least Bobby Freeman) and they disposed of Puig (again, why can’t it be that easy in baseball?)

The news was perhaps the best I could have asked for. The foreign tumor had been removed, it was not cancer, and I got to keep all of my organs (which I have suddenly become very attached to). When you get that much good news your mind immediately goes to your happy place, which in my case was Chase Field for a triple-header against the Houston Astros minor league team.

Still, I am not sure what I thought would be the next step. It wasn’t like I was going to suddenly wake up, put on my Diamondbacks jersey, and make it to my seats by first pitch for Tuesday night’s game. Honestly, I think that was what I was expecting so when I woke up in the third inning with more cables than the Golden Gate Bridge I was a little disappointed. My disappointment only lasted 6 minutes though because I was on a morphine drip that engaged every six minutes.

As I woke up in my room, my wife and kids surrounded me all with tears streaming down their cheeks. Had I been in a coma? Did the Diamondbacks win the World Series while I was comatose and I missed the victory parade? Did the Diamondbacks trade for Puig (the tumor not the ball player)?

It seems they were just grateful for all the blessings that were being heaped upon up. The thoughts and prayers of everyone had truly paid off and I cannot tell you how grateful we all are. As if this sight was not emotional enough my children came forward with something for me. They pulled out a Patrick Corbin 2013 All-Star jersey in my size. This time it was me who began to cry.

These kids had all gone together and bought their dad a jersey in hopes that it would make my recovery a little easier. They talked about how they got the jersey then attempted (unsuccessfully) to have Corbin autograph the jersey. While I may not have been coherent enough to truly thank them, this meant the world to me and it will be a jersey I will cherish for the rest of my life. Perhaps some time I will run into Patrick Corbin and ask him to autograph my jersey just to complete their wishes.

It’s not so much the autograph as it is the thought behind it. It’s funny, whenever I am at the game and see people asking for autographs I never thought about what the backstory might be for their requests. It makes you stop and think.

I spent the next week in the hospital on a constant morphine drip. Incidentally, morphine does ease the pain when the Diamondbacks give up a late lead so there are positives to this whole experience.

Despite the good news, the road ahead is not without its pitfalls. When I was finally able to go home from the hospital I still had drainage tubes protruding from my stomach and I can barely sit up. I never realized how much you use your stomach muscles for everything from breathing to moving.

The goal was that I would be able to resume normal activities and would be ready for when the Diamondbacks returned from the current road trip. That likely won’t happen. The road to recovery is slow and each step forward seems to be met with one or two steps back. In that case, it’s a lot like the 2013 Diamondbacks season.

During Spring Training we were encouraged by the team and the players that had been assembled. The National League West was wide open and the Dbacks had as good a shot as anyone of winning the division. Injuries took their toll on this team and they would win two games then lose three. In the mean time the Dodgers would go on an amazing run so even when the Diamondbacks won they didn’t gain any ground.

My progress like that of the Diamondbacks cannot be measured in results. I understand the importance of wins and losses and how they gage success but they may or may not explain progress. Hopefully over time progress and results will align and we can enjoy the success that comes but until then I have to be content with the little positives that come each day.


3 Comments

  1. Tonia Brown

    Hey Jeff~
    Glad everything went well!
    What do you do with the Diamondbacks? They are a good team from what I see!
    Hope you will be well soon!
    Take care and talk with you soon.
    Tonia Brown

  2. Best of luck, Jeff….sounds like you’ve been having more than your fair share of medical issues for quite awhile now.

  3. I’m glad to hear you came through the surgery with flying colors and despite the slow progress back to full recovery, your spirits are still as positive and upbeat as ever! What your family has done for you is so sweet and touching! I am also happy to hear the thoughts and prayers we have all conveyed have helped see you through a trying time. You are an awesome person with a lot to live for. Keep the faith, my friend, and always keep that smile going and your sense of humor intact!

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