Ampulla of Vater
Ampullary cancer. Ever heard of it? No, me either. It's cancer of the Ampulla of Vater. I was pretty sure this was the name of a character in a Star Wars movie, but I was wrong. The Ampulla of Vater is the last centimetre of the common bile duct. This raises several questions, at the time of writing still unanswered. Does the common bile duct have separate cool names for every centimetre of its length? Is there an uncommon bile duct?
The way to remove a cancer of the Ampulla of Vater is to have a Whipple procedure (follow this link at your own risk. Alarming medical details included). Now a Whipple sounds to me like some guy in an icecream van doodled it on a serviette during his tea break, but I am assured it is an actual, non-made up surgical procedure. The other possible reason it is called a Whipple procedure is that the surgeon whips out all the extraneous internal organs he or she can see.
"Gall bladder? Out. Bile duct? Out. Lower stomach? Out. Large slab of pancreas? Out. What about the spleen? Maybe keep that. Or maybe not. We'll decide later. What shall we do with all this spare small intestine here? I know, we'll use it to join all the bits up around all the other bits we just took out. Gosh. There's lots of empty space in here. Listen, if I hoot, there's an echo."
"Gee, you're right. Let me do that. Hoot. Hoot."
I'm fairly certain that is the kind of conversation that goes on in surgery during a Whipple procedure. It is certainly a novel way to lose weight. Problem is, the last thing Paul needs is to lose weight. He is very fortunate to be going into this operation very fit and pretty healthy, you know, apart from the cancer thing, but he's had instructions to put weight on. He took this to mean, 'Eat larger bowls of the vegetables that usually make up my dinner,' but no, it means, 'Eat more fat and protein, Paul.' Doctors don't tend to say that to me, which is a pity.
Surgery is on April 13. Before that, Paul has a very long list of Things To Do. As of Sunday I will be heading up the mountain to help him, or possibly hinder him, we'll see which way it goes. I am taking my gardening gloves, my chainsaw, and my latest novel manuscript. I am daily coming to terms with yet more things I cannot control, or at the very least, trying to ignore them. I figure that is slightly better than continually attempting to control the uncontrollable. Also, less tiring.