The options: try a new medication or schedule surgery. There is a possibility that the new medication might stave off another attack. The surgery will remove the entire portion of his digestive system that is causing the problem.
The medication has no side effects (no, really – it’s basically a set of digestive enzymes designed to do the work for his pancreas so it doesn’t have to work so hard), but because none of the literature our doctors have seen notes anything like what S. is harboring in his gut, they can’t say it will work for sure.
The surgery will be four hours long, repeat the same 7-8 inch incision he had in September, require a week’s hospital stay and 8 weeks of recovery time at home. He’ll be on pain medications and suffer through the same healing process he did six months ago. Understandably, he’s not eager to go there again. Neither, I imagine, are his co-workers eager to have him gone for two months again so soon.
Purely selfishly, I am in favor of surgery. Assuming the medication prevents another attack for a few months, we get another prescription. Going month by month, stealing days and weeks feels like walking a tightrope above a swirling sea. I envision myself holding my breath and watching my husband vigilantly for any signs of impending doom, curling my toes around this rope and holding my arms out just so as if I could stop the fall once it starts. Thinking about him traveling overseas for work catches my breath in my throat. Waiting and watching, watching and waiting.
Surgery feels proactive. We haven’t escaped the raging sea, but we’ve built a raft. Perhaps we can make it to solid ground with this. I am no longer quite so interested in the biomechanical reasons for his illness. I just want to be done with this. Get me off of the high wire, already! Removal of the offending portions of S’s intestine will very likely prevent any more symptoms. At this point I am willing to remain mystified forever so long as we can solve the problem.
S. has opted to try the medication for a few months, if only to buy himself some time. He has a business trip scheduled in May. I will not attempt to influence him to have surgery at this point, respecting his right to make this difficult decision for himself. For now, we will wait and watch some more. And I will read Sue Monk Kidd’s book “When the Heart Waits” thanks to a recommendation from fellow writer Jenny Rough (http://www.jennyrough.com/) and hope to find some peace and balance up here on the rope…