The pain is so great some days it’s too much to stand or even sit up.
After enduring treatment for prostate cancer five years ago, Bob Eden needs a series of surgeries to fix a hole in his bladder and colon.
The catheter tubes snake out of Eden’s kidneys, the only way that his body can get rid of waste. The lines are taped to his hips and strapped to each leg. Eden had to have a surgery called an ileostomy — or rerouting of waste from his small intestines to two different collection bags.
“I can’t walk very long. I can’t stand for very long. I’m almost immobilized,” he said.
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To correct the problem, the 61-year-old Franklin resident will require a series of three surgeries. The only specialist capable of performing the procedures is located in Florida, and Eden and his wife, Kris Eden, are now struggling to come up with the money to travel to Fort Lauderdale.
Without the surgery, Bob Eden likely will have to have a permanent colostomy bag implanted. Fixing the hole would change his life, and even as obstacles seem to mount every day, he remains hopeful.
“A lot of people, if they’d been through what I have, they’d have given up,” he said.
Bob Eden was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, which required the removal of the organ as well as 40 rounds of radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells.
The treatment eliminated the cancer but left Bob Eden with significant physical challenges. The radiation burned him so badly that he developed a hole in the wall of his bladder and his colon, a condition called a fistula.
Urine and fecal matter cannot be removed correctly, resulting in intense pain and the threat of infection.
“Everything was backwards,” he said. “Everything was going where it wasn’t supposed to go.”
After rushing to the doctor, his urologist discovered the fistula. None of the hospitals in the region had the training to repair it; the nearest surgeon was Dr. Steven Wexner, a renowned colorectal surgeon who is the director of the Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida.
The procedure would need to be done in three phases. The first step that Wexner required was the catheter and the ileostomy bag so that Bob Eden could safely get rid of waste.
Surgery was scheduled for July 12. But four days before they were set to leave in early July, their van broke. A family friend loaned them a car so they could make their appointment. The Edens celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in the hospital room at Cleveland Clinic Florida.
Now, with the second surgery scheduled for Oct. 3 to fix the fistula, they are unsure how they’ll be able to get to Florida. The family still does not have the money to repair their own van, and don’t have anyone to lend them a car this time.
Bob Eden works on the assembly line for Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc., but his condition has left him unable to do the job. With Kris Eden receiving disability benefits, they already are on a strict budget.
“We just don’t know how we’re going to do it,” Kris Eden said. “We’re barely paying our bills now as it is. We’re not really sure where to turn.”
Friends and family stepped up to plan a benefit dinner, and a fund was set up at First Merchants Bank. They hope to raise enough to fix their car, or arrange to take a plane and rent a car to get to the hospital next month, Kris Eden said.
Assuming the fistula is fixed and no additional complications arise, the third part of the procedure will be to remove the ileostomy bag in late 2017.
The past three months has been difficult, both Bob and Kris Eden said. Stress and anxiety fill every day.
But in their Franklin home are ample examples of how the couple are coping with their current situation.
Pictures of happy gatherings are framed nicely on shelves and tables throughout the living room. Decorations extolling the virtues of faith and family are tastefully arranged on the walls.
“I tell him, you have to keep going,” Kris Eden said. “We’re getting close to the end now.”
A Franklin family is raising money to help pay transportation and other costs stemming from Bob Eden’s upcoming surgery to repair a hole in his bladder and colon.
Donations can be made to the Robert and Anita Eden fund at First Merchants Bank, 2259 N. Morton St., Franklin.