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Bay Area Guy
Bay Area Guy Member Posts: 611 Member

New member here, so I'll tell my background.

In December, 2013, I had a routine physical exam that uncovered some microscopic blood in my urine.  My primary care doctor referred me for a CT scan, assuming a kidney stone wold be found.  What was found instead, was a 1.5cm lesion on my right kidney that was suspected to be a low grade renal cell carcinoma.  I was given a number of options as to where I could be referred to a urologist.  I chose Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto, CA.  The urologist to whom I was referred looked at the CT scan and examined me briefly and said that his recommendation was to monitor the lesion because he felt the CT scan wasn't concolusive as to RCC.  Fast forward a couple of scans and a couple of ultrasounds to April of this year.  An ultrasound determined that the lesion had grown int he 2-1/2 year period to 2cm.  Not a huge growth, but growth nonethless.  My urolgist said that while he was still not convinced that the lesion was malignant, the fact that it had grown led him to recommend that it be treated.  The options were cryoablation or robotic assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy.  His recommendation was the partial nephrectomy.  While the comfort factor told me to go for the ablation, I remember my dad, a veteran of some 15 major surgeries (and I have no intention of challenging his record!) saying at one time, why bother going to a doctor if you don't take his recommendation.  So my wife and I talked it over and decided on the surgery.  We were both swayed by a combination of factors.  The fact that there is a higher success rate with the surgery was certainly an important factor, but also the fact that the ablation leaves the dead tissue inside was of a concern to us.  We decided it would be better to just get it out nd not have to worry about it.

The surgery was scheduled for June 22nd, so I had about six weeks to think about it.  I have to say, I was proud of myself that I didn't go insane about it.  In fact, through the whole process, I didn't fear the actual surgery or the aftermath.  I feared the catheter.  I had abdominal surgery twice and each time, the catheter was just so tortuous.  So I knew I would get that and dreaded it, but consoled myself that I wouldn't have to go through the torture of an NG tube.

The ay of the surgery came and it was scheduled initially for 11:30, but then moved to 1:15.  Not ideal, but I went with the flow.  When I got into pre-op, they told me that the prior surgery using the robotics was gong a little longer than scheduled, and that it wouldbe about 45 minutes late.  A big sigh from me, but what the heck.  Not much to do about it.  The only thing I recall from the time I was sedated to the time I woke up (at least I think I remember this) was actually being wheeled into the OR, seeing the robotics and thinking how cool they looked, then getting set up for the surgery.  My next recollection was hearing one of my nieces saying something in my hospital room and my wife laughing with relief.  I also remember them telling me that about an hour into the operation, a fire alarm went off.  I guess things weren't meant to be easy for me that day.

After my wife, her brother and her niece left, I recall a nurse's assistant helping me to stand for about thirty seconds until I said, I gotta get back in bed.  I woke up numerous times during the night, not with pain, but with an incredibly dry mouth.  I think the breathing tube they insert did that.  Fortunately, they had left me a lot of water and I drank as muc as I could.

I woke the next morning at 5:30 when it was time to draw blood.  I asked my nurse if I could go for a walk because I recalled that the surgeon encouraged me to walk as soon as possible.  She said that would not be a problem, but suggested we wait because the urology docs started their rounds around 6 and she didn't want them to miss me because I was on a walk.  Sure enough, about 6:15, a group of five people decended on my room.  I laughed and asked if I was that much of a danger that they needed five against one.  They were great, though, and explained what had been done the previous day.  A lesion about the size of medium marble was removed, they then cut it to make sure they had gotten all the abnormal tissue (which they verified they had) and then sewed me back up.  The surgeon would be in later that day to talk to me if I had any questions.  The lead doc said they'd take out the catheter in a couple of minutes and I told him if he did that, I'd kiss him full on the lips.  True to his word, the nurse was in a couple minutes later to remove the catheter and to disconnect the IV's from the fluids.  The IV catheters were still in me, which I guess is a requirement in a hospital, but no more fluids.  They advanced me to a regular diet and encouraged me to eat.  Surprisingly, I was starving, but took it slow at first with french toast followed a couple of hours later by yogurt and a banana and then a few hours later by some salmon.  All during this time, I kept drinking water and doing as much roaming of the halls as I could.

My wife, along with a different brother-in-law and niece showed up around 11 and we took a walk.  The surgeon showed up around noon and we talked for a while.  He said the lesion was pretty deep in the kidney, but it was quite readily accessible, which meant he didn't need to clamp off my renal artery for as long as the surgery usually requires.  He said that pathology of the lesion would take about a week and that he'd call me with the results.  If it turns out to be maignant, he'll have me get scans every six months or so to ensure that it didn't spread and hasn't recurred.  If it's benign, I think he said he'd have me do a baseline scan in six months and then I'd be free.  He said he wasn't giving me any specific instructions regarding recovery time other than to walk as much as possible and listen to my body in terms of working out more strenuously.  He then said I was free to go whenever I wanted.  So, from the time I went into the OR to the time I was released was less than 24 hours.  That's incredible technology.

In terms of pain, there's been a little bit.  I can feel the suturing inside my kideny pulling once in a while.  My right hip (the side where the operation was) has some pulling in it as well, but it also feels numb when I touch it.  The only other pain has been in my right arm, where I feel like I pitched a nine inning baseball game.  So, thankfully, I haven't had to make use of any of the pain meds that were prescribed.  The area where the drain had been placed, and removed just before I left was dressed for 24 hours following the removal, but when I took the dressing off for a light shower yesterday, it appeared that it had closed up pretty well.  There was no leakage around any of the incisions.  The only quibble I have is that I seem to have a tiny case of tape burn on one spot on my abdomen, but that'll go away soon.

So, I have to say that, three days removed from surgery, I am feeling very fortunate.  I've been walking three or four times a day and while I get winded a lot easier than I did before, it's nowhere near as bad as the recovery from abdominal surgery and nowhere near as bad as I feared it would be.

Glad to be a member here!


  • APny
    APny Member Posts: 1,995 Member
    Sorry you have to be a member

    Sorry you have to be a member here but it sounds like everything went perfectly. Yours was a small tumor so the chances of the surgery being the last of it are excellent. While my surgery was an open partial, it pretty much went like yours as far as walking, getting home, and not being in too much pain was concerned. Keep walking and keep drinking tons of water. One thing that helped me was using a breathing apparatus (spirometer?) every hour. It really does clear your lungs. Another thing the respiratory therapist told me is to do these excercises while walking. She called them "Smell the flowers; blow the candles." While walking, breathe very slowly in through your nose as though smelling a flower, then exhale through your mouth as if blowing out candles. Helped me get less winded in a very short time. All the best to you and so happy it went so well.

  • icemantoo
    icemantoo Member Posts: 3,361 Member
    Did you kiss the Doctor?.....

    or the Catheter Nurse (bunny)?

    Such fond recollections us guys have of being nephed.



  • Bay Area Guy
    Bay Area Guy Member Posts: 611 Member

    Thanks APny.  my earlier abdominal surgery taught me the wisdom of the breathing exercises and the walking.  As far as water goes, I've been waking up every two hours to pee.  LOL.  I think I'm hydrating pretty well.

    ice.....ell, since the doc just said go ahead and remove it, I decided he didn't earn my lps.  And since my wife was right outside the door, I figured discretion was the better part of valor.