In early 2012, my urologist performed a left orchiectomy, to remove a tumor. Now, in my last post, I talked about the initial lab test ordered by my urologist, and my experience with that. You can read all about my experience getting lab work blood tests done here. Today, I want to talk about what the surgery entailed, and my experience.
An orchiectomy is the removal of one or both of the testicles. Since my left testicle had developed a tumour, that testicle had to be removed. The right one was left alone, as there was no indication of the tumour spreading. Surgery was performed the same night that I arrived at John C. Lincoln Hospital.
My mother had gone with me to the hospital, and sat with me in surgery prep while the doctors and nurses got everything ready. This was the first time I had ever had surgery. My urologist and the anesthesiologist both saw me before the surgery, explaining everything that would be happening.
The anesthesiologist explained how the anesthesia worked, and what he would be doing, to make sure everything went well. He also told me of any possible risks. My urologist explained how the left orchiectomy surgery would be performed, and also informed me of any risks involved. He said that, this type of procedure used to be done by cutting into the scrotum sack, and removing the testicle that way. He doesn’t like doing that, as it leaves a very large and noticeable scar on the scrotum.
Instead, he prefers to make an incision just below the lower abdominal area. From there, he’s able to pull the testicle upwards, and remove it that way. He says it “just hangs there like a Christmas ornament” and is easy to remove that way, with minimal scarring.
The surgical nurse told me and my mother, that the surgery would be about an hour and half. My urologist said he could do it in about 20 minutes. He’s done enough of these surgeries in his career, that he’s become proficient at doing them well and in less time than many other surgeons.
After the left orchiectomy, I woke up in the recovery room. For those who have never had surgery, they want to make sure you are awake so you can start drinking, and flush out the anesthesia drugs, as they can be harmful if they remain in the body.
That same night, after being put back in my room, my urologist came up to see how I was doing, and I also met my first oncologist, who was also present during the surgery. My oncologist joked and said “it feels good getting that rock out of there, doesn’t it?”, referring to the tumour engrossed left testicle. I agreed that it did feel much better. And, it didn’t really feel much different having just one testicle.
They wanted to see how I was doing, and told me what would happen next. They would send the testicle to their pathology lab for testing. They would determine whether it was testicular cancer or lymphoma. My oncologist did assure me that, if it was lymphoma, his experience with patients has been a 50% remission rate.
So, that was my first surgical experience, and the first of many treatments and procedures in my battle with cancer. In my next post, I’ll talk about what the pathology lab discovered and my experience with my first chemotherapy treatment, and how everything fell into place after my “left orchiectomy”.