I don't want to bury the lede, so here's the big bullet point: Ben had his abdominal surgery today, and it appears to have been a complete success. He is currently resting in his hospital bed, and thus far everything looks good.
We had to be at the hospital at 5am, which meant we had to be up by 3:30am. Realistically, none of us got much (if any) sleep last night. After getting through registration and the pre-op consult, Ben was taken back to be prepped a little after 7am. The surgery itself finally began at nearly 8, and overall took about five hours. The first two hours involved removing the diseased part of the pancreas along with the gallbladder, duodenum, and part of the intestine and then reattaching the healthy part of the pancreas back to the stomach. The doctor said that the pancreas was much more diseased than he had expected, and that Ben would have been "very symptomatic" -- which is doctor-speak for "Ben must have been in a boatload of pain and not able to tell you about it." Once the pancreas was out, it was sent to the lab to have the islets harvested, which took about two hours. Then the islets were infused into the liver, which took about twenty minutes. From there Ben was stitched up and sent to the recovery room where he spent several more hours.
Initially in the morning the doctor had said that Ben would be kept in the ICU for two or three nights for observation, but as it turns out the surgery went so well that the doctor decided to just send Ben directly to a regular hospital room. By early evening Ben was settled into his room, and resting as well as could be expected.
During the procedure he lost a fair amount of blood, but not so much that they needed to do a transfusion. As a result, he is currently anemic and you can really see it. His hands are both ghostly pale, but still warm to the touch. His eyes are downright spooky. The whites of the eyes are pure white, with no visible red blood vessels. He has a nasogatric tube going up his nose and down into his stomach, which is keeping the stomach fluids drained in order to prevent nausia. He has a drain coming out of his abdomen, which slowly fills with thin red fluid, but so far no sign of any bleeds internally. He has a catheter, which he particularly resents. Finally he has pressure cuffs on his legs that are there to make sure his circulation is good. So at the moment he is pretty well strung up, and during his waking moments he urgently wants to get that tube out of his nose with one hand, and the catheter out with his other.
His mom is currently sitting with him, and I am going back in a few hours to spell her. It promises to be a long night, after a long day, after a long night, after two long days of ice-delayed driving. Seriously, if feels like entire civilizations have risen, achieved greatness, and fallen since the last time any of us had real rest. But at least tonight the exhaustion is tinted with the happiness that the scary part is over and the healing has begun.
Now if you'll pardon me, I am going to go take a quick nap.