I don’t remember much, just them jamming the epidural between my shoulder blades and the anaesthesiologist saying goodbye, but from all reports everything went spectacularly well. They pulled Kuato screaming into the daylight and sliced him up on a laboratory plate. He measured about the size of my fist and according to the report, contained muscle, lung and keratin fibres. Extreme teratomas have also been known to have hair and proto-teeth, which makes them fun fodder for freak-o-the-week medical shows, but if Kuato said anything about his treatment, they didn’t tell me.
As one friend said, it doesn’t matter if he contained pure plutonium, what matters is that they got him out clean. That they did and the worst case post-surgery scenarios (not being able to talk properly, partial paralysis of my diaphragm and the tumour having invaded nearby organs, etc) are now behind me. I do now have an extra bellybutton, which was not a scenario they covered in the brochure.
I’m not 100% out of the woods yet though; they are going to run the mangled pieces of Kuato under the microscope to check the location and percentage of the remaining active cancer cells. Depending on those tests, they may determine that I need another round or two of chemo just to make sure that no active cancer escaped during the surgery. Even if I get the chemo it is more of precaution, but I would really rather not. It seems a shame to go through all that again just as my hair is starting to come back in.
In the meantime, it’s been almost a month since the surgery and also two since I’ve finished chemo and I’m starting to climb the walls at home. The list of do’s and don’ts after the surgery was pretty long because they don’t want me pulling at the rabbit wire they used to knit my sternum back into place: I’m not allowed to lift anything, pick anything up, let the cats sit on me, walk the dog, drive, mow the lawn, sleep on my side or take a bath for at least six weeks. I’ve never felt so much like a sick person in my life than watching my wife and mother-in law garden all weekend while I sat on a chair like Grandpa at Shady Pines.