Yesterday, December 7th, 2010, Tiffany went in for a splenectomy. The purpose of the splenectomy is really three fold.
One, so that they can confirm diagnosis. Because of the rare nature of the cancer that we are looking at, the doctors want a firm handle on what they are looking at. If this is truly what they think it is, they expect to find cancer in her spleen. In some ways we are hoping they find nothing. Doing so may create more questions than answers, though. If she has cancer in the bone marrow (which has already been confirmed) why does it not show up in the spleen? And if it is not in the spleen, why is her platelet count so low?
Two, so they can have that much less cancer to treat. As this is cancer that affects the spleen, taking it out leaves that much less cancer to treat.
Three, so that her platelet count goes up. The whole reason we are were we are was because of her low platelet count. The risk of bleeding is great when your body does not make enough platelets that clot and stop bleeding. This causes concern with surgery and other procedures as it becomes necessary for your own body to clot certain wounds.
OK, back to the splenectomy. Tiffany, myself, her Mom and Dad went up to University Hospital in Salt Lake City early in the morning of December 7th. She went right into pre-op and was again a pin cushion. Tiffany's veins are small and like to roll around which makes it hard to get a good stick when trying to take blood samples or being stuck with an IV. Having been a phlebotomist, she has great understanding and patience with people who struggle to get a good stick. (Case in point, it took them so long to finally get a vein during labor with Emma that by the time she got the IV in, it was too late, baby Emma was ready to come!)
They wheeled her back and were told it would take about two and a half hours. However, just under two hours later, the doctor came out to the waiting area and informed me that everything went great, that she needed no blood, and they were able to get the spleen out in one piece with as little an incision as possible.
It is now the morning after and she has been in the hospital for about 24 hours and she continues to be in good spirits. She is sleepy, as her body is trying to recover from taking out a sizable organ. She has been in and out of sleep all day and night. She will sleep for about 15 minutes and wake up long enough to say hi, then will fall asleep for another 10 to 20 minutes.
We will be watching her for the next day or two or three as she continues to recover. The doctors want her to be walking around as soon as she can today. Just to walk outside to the nurses and back. More tomorrow, and then more the next day. Doing so will quicken the healing, reduce threat for blood clots (with her spleen out, blood clots are now something that will need to be considered), and release endorphins which will help with pain relief.
Again, we thank every one for the prayers and support. Tiffany's sister (Andrea) and brother-in-law (Travis) took the kids the night before the surgery and most of the day of the surgery. We know the difficulties of taking care of our four children, let alone on top of their own four children, one of which is an infant. We are thankful for her Mom and Dad who went to our home last night and helped the kids to get off for school this morning. We are grateful for the carpools to get the kids to and from school. We know that this is a burden to all, and to you all (and all the others I haven't specifically thanked) we are grateful. We couldn't do this without you.