My melanoma journey began on December 5th, 2007 with a mole removal on my lower right leg. You can read about that, including my intensive interferon experience, here http://intensiveinterferon.blogspot.com/. This new site is my blog to capture my personal experience with isolated limb perfusion to treat my in transit metastases.
The date for the isolated limb perfusion (ILP) at the University of Pennsylvania (http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/surgery/Clinical/EOS/isolated_limb_perfusion.html) is quickly approaching. I’ve been making and freezing meals, stocking up on pantry items, cleaning, ordering Christmas gifts online, and trying to get caught up at work so my life feels as though as much is in order as it can be prior to the surgery on Thursday, November 15th. I won’t know the surgery’s scheduled time until I receive a phone call between 3 and 6pm on Wednesday. I won’t be able to have anything by mouth after midnight on Wednesday, and we’ll have to make the two-hour drive to the hospital Thursday morning. Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with rush hour morning traffic – that could add another hour or more to our travel time, and make it more stressful.
I know that I’ll be in the hospital for 4-5 days, and that I should expect a 6-week recuperation. I’ve made arrangements with my job to be able to work from home as needed in December. My husband has arranged to be home with me the first two weeks.
Things I don’t know include having no idea how I’ll feel my first week home. How mobile will I be? Will I want a quiet house so I can rest, or will I be looking forward to visitors? (It will be Thanksgiving week, after all.) Will I be able to concentrate enough to read and write? What will wound care be like – will I be able to do it myself, or will I need assistance? How will my leg’s skin react to the chemo (how much burning and blistering)? How severe will the lymphedema be? How difficult will it be to get a compression stocking on my leg, and how soon will I need to start that (should I bring one to the hospital)? My next appointment with my oncologist in Hershey is five weeks after the operation, so how often will we need to travel to U Penn to followup after surgery? How comfortable will I be traveling two hours home from the hospital and making round trips afterward?
Really, that’s a lot of questions. I’m not even sure what to pack for the hospital visit since I don’t know if I’ll want clothing touching my leg. I also don’t know whether I’ll feel like reading, so do I pack simple magazines or a couple of books? We were given a hospital brochure for day surgeries, but not all of the information applies since I’ll be there for several days. I’ll know all, or at least most, of the answers soon enough, but it is a bit exasperating to have so many unknowns this close to the surgery.
I appreciate all of the support I’m receiving from family and friends. I know that all I have to do is ask, and I’ll have whatever I need. That is a comfort!