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Question for WilliamWMarshall

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2009

Good afternoon... my dad had esophagectomy at UPMC with Dr. Luketich. He is not recovering as well as we had hoped... The procedure was April 15, he was in ICU for a week, stepdown for 3 days and a regular room for 3 days. He came home on the 29th. Dad owns his own company and has not been interested in returning to work... he has fallen into what I would call a major depression. He has to go back soon for a procedure that will stretch his new esophagus due to scar tissue build up. Dad is 67 years old and had never been sick a day in his life before and now it is like he has given up. We live on the Peninsula and I was hoping that maybe you would be willing to meet with us so that my dad could talk to a SURVIVOR. Dad had read your story when he was doing research about the surgery and was so inspired he contacted Dr. Luketich immediately for an appointment. I couldn't figure out how to send a private email to you, so please excuse the public posting. I look forward to hearing from you... Stephanie

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judyloo's picture
Posts: 39
Joined: Jun 2008

Hi, I just had my one year anniversary at age 61, and while my doc and I discussed both procedures, we opted to not go with the Stents unless dilatation proved completely ineffective as a suitable workaround.

I also was in the ICU for about 3 days and out on the oncology surgical unit for another 10.

It 'sounds' (I absolutely know nothing other than what I have been told or experienced, so this is what happened with me - not to be construed as advice - PLEASE) as though in the same fashion I was eventually treated, that your Dad is suffering from depression.

The medical folks and a friend of the family who is a counsellor, agreed that was part of the problem I was having about 2 months out from the surgery. I was placed on a low level anti-depressant to try to treat my sad, weepy, feelings about life around me.

Last month, my Clinical Oncologist wanted me to come off them for a while, and possibly switch to another medicine, to see if the Zoloft had started the loose BMs and flatulence I have been experiencing for nearly 9 months. Turns out stopping the meds for even 4 days was enough to turn me into someone I was ashamed to be, I was a monster, even to the wonderful woman who drove 200 miles a day to sit with me, and took care of me when I was finally able to come home, so they started me on something new.

I am a 25 year Air Force veteran, and have NEVER shirked my duties during or since. I, too, am no longer interested in working, but force myself to do the 60 mile one-way commute to Boston three days a week (my boss, and her boss have been absolutely wonderful even in the current economy about letting me work from home at least 2 days per week).

Last July, I came off Short Term Disability, but I was too exhausted to make the drive down to Massachusetts, except occasionally, and realizing the stress the commute placed on me, and the manner in which the pain meds made me so sleepy, they let me work from here full-time.

I don't know what your Dad does, but perhaps he could find a way to work more from home, or even hire an avatar temporarily to cover his responsibilities, with close coordination, by way of a two-or-three-times-a-week collaboration so that he stays in-the-loop and maintains control of his business?

I don't know if he is a big man or not, but I know that I lost 80+ pounds as a result of the surgery, and am only *now* working out regularly, and doing my walks to build muscle tone and to re-learn muscle memory. Psychologically, as well as physically, this has helped me to feel better (stronger) and to feel that I am back to making a real contribution to my family and my job.

Ya gotta feel good to do good!

BTW, I had 14 dilatations before my surgeon pronounced me good to go. He said his record was 17, and that he uses that figure as his personal litmus in determining when it is time for a stent insertion - apparently stents are not permanent, and once they are removed, may need replacing if the stricture start closing up again. Also, I was told stents are prone to 'traveling'; not good, especially if the surgeon has to go fishing for them.

Best of luck to your Dad and your family in this somewhat uncertain time in your lives. Just takes patience, a lot of faith, and confidence in your medical team. Remember that he is probably scared too, about so many nightmarish scenarios that we can cook up regarding things like recurrence, the surgery and recovery process, and only God knows what else!

He needs the support of you and your family, and his friends, and co-workers to get through this recovery period successfully.


Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2009

Thanks for taking the time to respond Steve. It is really good to hear from individuals that have already been through this roller coaster ride and who can provide insight both good and bad about what to expect. Best of luck to you!

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