For Joe, 2016 was a rough year. In January, he developed pneumonia, probably as a result of aspirating some fluid into his lungs. It was then determined that his swallowing function had become so bad that he needed to have a feeding tube inserted in the place of all food and liquid taken by mouth. He also had some severe hip pain, which went away after a trial of some medication. Testing of his mobility during that trial must have moved a nerve or a bone spur. By summer, his allergies became so bad that, since he was no longer swallowing, the sinus drainage would cause him to cough and sometimes throw up.
In October, a regular urinalysis showed some slight blood in his urine. Since he has a history of urinary tract infections, that was not surprising. It was, however, shocking to learn upon further testing that he had developed bladder cancer. In October, a partial resection of the bladder to scrape away the tumors was unsuccessful. His body positioning made it impossible to remove everything. The pathology report later indicated that the tumors were not yet growing outside the bladder, but would likely do so soon if left untouched. The only course of action, other than doing nothing, was determined to be removal of the bladder.
The surgery itself is a lengthy one, possibly lasting 7 hours. For Joe, the higher risk comes not from the surgery but from the recovery. His heart valve problem does not present as great a concern for anesthesia as we had originally thought, although that is certainly an issue. His lack of mobility will increase the risk of blood clots. His breathing is already compromised because of the allergy issues. He is at greater risk of pneumonia because it is difficult for him to have a productive cough.
For his 59 years, Joe has typically been very healthy. Living on the Woodhaven campus since he was 8 probably boosted his immune system. Despite advice given to our parents when he was born that he would not likely live more than 6 months, his cerebral palsy has not made him unhealthy beyond the physical and development limitations he has experienced. We have often thought that the aging process would hit him sooner than most, so his health challenges this year seem in line with that.
Joe has always been resilient and optimistic, two traits that will serve him well with his recovery. He seems to understand what he is about to go through and wants to have the surgery. I believe that his faith is what is helping him face what lies ahead. His wonderful and devoted Woodhaven staff are prepared to help him every step of the way.