Following on from his post about his initial diagnosis, John shares his treatment story with us.
I was 59 years old when I was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) and it took me eight months to get a diagnosis. Following this, events moved along apace.
I was initially given a date of the June 3rd 2013 for my operation but this was delayed by one week. Here in France, work is assessed on a priority basis with patients normally given state the week of the operation and not the date until the Friday before. At this stage they decided to delay and give me a new date a week later.
On the following Friday, I was given a date of entry of June 9th 2013. On entry that day they asked me to shave and scrub myself. I prepared myself that night by shaving from just above my biceps down to the groin.
I was wheeled into the preparation theatre at 8.00am on June 10th 2013 and the anaesthesiologist tried to give me an epidural – it seems this was not successful but I do not know since I passed out.
That afternoon, after an operation lasting eight hours, I was transferred to Intensive Care. I had two drains, one on the left and right for my abdominal cavity.
The next day it was explained to me that I had had my appendix removed, part of the liver removed, all of the mucin. All the organs in the cavity were scrapped in order to ‘clean’ them. In addition, I had also had part of my intestine removed but the good news was the cancer was not advanced as initial thought and I did not have a colostomy. Thus no need for a second operation.
I was in intensive care for five days. I had a multitude of different medicines fed by a drip and these were progressively removed during that time.
The first night I asked to go to the toilet but was told it was okay since I had a catheter inserted in my penis. Strange sensation!!!
The second day I was asked to get out of bed to move around and this was possible for 15 minutes. I tried to eat something but I just felt nauseous all the time.
The third day it was found I had fluid on my lung and another drain was inserted – this was the most painful experience during that first week.
Again I was not feeling hungry and ate hardly anything. Because of the third drain I was not able to get out of bed. The fourth and fifth days were similar – I did not get out of bed and hardly ate anything.
During the time in intensive care, I had an X-ray every day and a bed-bath every day. My stitches were inspected and treated every day. On the fifth day they were left open to allow air to get to them. In all I had 44 metal staples on the outside and I was told about 80 stitches on the inside.
I was lucky in that during those five days I was in intensive care I did not have to evacuate my bowels thus allow the healing process to continue unheeded. The downside is that I lost over 14 pounds during that time.
Because of the constant pain I found it difficult to sleep and was on self-medication (morphine drip) during this time. The dreams I had were weird, it was almost like an out-of-body experience.
At the end of the fifth day I was transferred to the ward which was a private room. The X-rays continued every day and I was allowed to stay on morphine for another 3 days at which time the drip was removed. I was questioned every day as to the level of pain and feeling and my medication was adjusted accordingly.
I was able to evacuate my bowels for the first time on the 6th day. I could not face the hospital food and my wife would bring in for me two meals a day (I did eat the bread and jam in the morning). Even then I could not face a full meal because of the nausea.
By the end of the ninth day, the anaesthesiologist suggested I have a tube inserted so that I could be fed with vitamins to supplement my diet since I was losing weight. I suppose a little like ‘foie gras’ and force feeding. This was horrendous since my throat was already swollen from the operation and I was heaving all of the time. After two hours, I started to vomit and it was decided to remove the tube.
By the end of the tenth day the first drip was removed – the one from my lung – this was an enormous relief because this constantly give me pain. By the end of eleventh day the second drip was removed. By the morning of the thirteenth day the third drip was removed and I was discharged the same day!
John will be back in a later blog post to share more of his experiences with us. To read more stories like John's, please visit our Survivors' Stories page.