Maybe my story will help relieve the fear of the Whipple surgery somewhat.
Dr. G. Jeff Smith did my Whipple surgery on 7/14/03 at Roseville, Ca. Kaiser Hospital. I had a 10cm diameter tumor on the head and body of my pancreas. I had no symptoms whatsoever. This tumor was found by accident when I had an ultrasound done at the end of May to look for liver damage from medicine I was taking for high cholesterol. I did not believe them at first, and kept telling them they were wrong, that they were only seeing pasta that I had eaten the night before that was showing up in my stomach. The day after Memorial Day, they performed a CT scan and determined it was a large 10cm diameter tumor located on the head and body of the pancreas. The surgery was scheduled and we took the motorhome up to Folsom Lake to camp out so my wife could stay close to me during my hospital stay. It was record breaking heat during this period of time, over 105įF every day. The campsites did not have electric hookups so she had to run the generator to have air conditioning.
On Sunday before the surgery was to be performed, the doctor called and said they saw a spot on my lung on the pre-operational chest x-ray so I had to get a Chest CT scan done prior to the surgery. Luckily the CT scan was clear, so the surgery stayed on track.
On Monday I checked into the hospital for the surgery. It was scary because Iíd never had anything wrong with me before and had never been it the hospital as a patient. They wanted to know if I wanted a spinal drip as an anaesthetic and I told them I wanted whatever was the best. They inserted a needle in my lower back for this and it really didnít hurt at all, it was just that I was so scared that it would hurt that I was shaking all over. They took me into the surgery room and had me slide over onto the surgery table and started an IV in my arm. I remember they told me that they were giving me a little injection into this IV tube to make me relax and I donít remember anything after that.
The surgery lasted 7 hr. and I was taken to the Intensive Care Unit to recover. It was like I was floating in a dream or something. I only had a slight pain where the staples were in my skin but it was not all that bad. Not like hitting your finger with a hammer or a toothache or something equally as painful. I had the worst sore throat of my whole entire life though from the breathing tube they used during the surgery. I had a catheter in my bladder, IVís in both arms and in my neck, a NG tube in my nose, and a drainage tube coming out of my right side.
The day after the surgery they had me get out of bed and sit up in a chair for a while and to do breathing exercises with a breathing apparatus. This is to keep from developing pneumonia. If you can take a few steps to start to walk again is also a good thing to do.
I stayed in ICU for 4 days and every day I tried to sit up longer and walk a little further to help in my recuperation. On the 3rd day my spinal tube came out so they put me on the IV, pain killer. They transferred me to a private room on the 4th day.
That was GREAT because I could finally have a real shower instead of a sponge bath. I had to take my IV pole with me to the shower and be careful of the bandages, catheter and drainage tube, but it was great anyway. For 10 days they only let me eat ice chips and only a liquid diet on the 11th day. I wanted a drink of water so bad I could hardly stand it because the last thing I ate before my surgery was a BLT sandwich with lots of salt on the tomato and I was so thirsty. I felt nausea once in a while but I never did have to vomit. I think that is real unusual for this operation. Most people vomit a lot.
They ended up taking out my whole pancreas, gall bladder, duodenum, spleen, part of my small intestine and stomach. The pathology report from Stanford Medical Center said I had intraductal mucinous papillary carcinoma. The best part of the report was that the lymph nodes were clear and that the borders were clear. The most severe part of this is that now I am totally insulin dependent diabetic.
Now I have to inject insulin 4 to 6 times a day. Not a big deal, considering the alternative.
After I came home from the hospital I was really weak and had to force myself to try to walk as much as I could. In the long run I think that really helped me in my recovery. I would recommend walking as much as you possibly can to help you regain your strength.
When I ate anything my stomach would hurt so bad and the pain would shoot up through my chest and radiate out through my left shoulder and neck. Felt just like a heart attack or something just as serious. I could only eat a few bites of food at a time before I felt full to start with but now I can eat a normal sized meal. I also had like diarrhea all the time, still do every once in a while, but nothing like it was the first few weeks after surgery.
I was 51yrs old and I weighed 183lbs when I went into the hospital for surgery and ended up at 133lbs on Thanksgiving Day. I probably needed to loose a few pounds but would not really recommend this method of weight loss. There are many other methods that are not quite so severe. I finally got well enough to go back to work on 10/27 and Iíve been doing real well since the surgery. Iíve had my first CT scan since the surgery and everything appears to be OK.
I think Iím one of the Luckiest People Alive for the way everything has
gone for me. I wish everyone else the very best that has to go through
this too. Maybe this will help you face this surgery with a little less
If I can answer any questions you may have feel free to e-mail me.