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So Far, So Good for Ken Starks After Surgery

As many of you know, my friend and irrepressible FOSS Force writer Ken Starks has been waiting for a date with his surgeon for the last month or so. He had his surgery today and so far the news is good. I just received the good news from Ken’s friend Ed Matthews, who also posted the contents of the email he sent me in the comments section of Ken’s latest article on FOSS Force.

According to Ed:

9:00 PM. Diane called me and said the surgery went essentially as expected. I believe she said the surgery was “over” about 4:30 and that he didn’t wake up in the recovery room. He is still doing heavy medication (Diane says he’s probably chasing young cowgirls in his dreams) and she was pleased he opened his eyes for a moment when they let her in to see him.

He will be going to Intensive Care in a little while and go to a room sometime Thursday.

Ken has written several articles on his health issues here on FOSS Force, so I don’t believe I’ll be breaking any confidences by filling in those of you who don’t know the situation. Today he underwent a major but somewhat “routine” procedure (remember, we live in an age when heart/lung transplants are considered “routine”) called radical neck dissection, which involved the removal of his larynx, possibly his thyroid and any lymph nodes in the general vicinity.

Not something that any of us would want to go through.

In Ken’s words, the surgery is “a preemptive strike against a cancer we thought was in remission.” He had survived a battle with stage IV throat and neck cancer in 2012

Recovery will doubtlessly be painful. With the procedure, he will have lost his ability to speak without use of a prosthesis, which anyone who knows Ken understands won’t be an easy adjustment for him to make.

But so far, so good. He’s made it through the surgery and is resting comfortably. All we can do now is chant our mantras, say our prayers, send our healing energy or whatever it is that each individual among us knows how to do to help him heal.

I’ll keep you advised when I hear anything.


  1. Abdel Abdel January 15, 2015

    From the bottom of my heart I wish Ken a quick recovery.

  2. gus3 gus3 January 15, 2015

    People all over the Internet are grateful for the update. Thanks, Christine. Prayers and well-wishes for a speedy recovery.

  3. Carling Carling January 15, 2015

    That’s great news to here. I spent a few of days in December with ken and Diane they are great people, It was a joy to meet them. Ken showed me everything that’s going on at Reglue I was very impressed in what they are doing

  4. Jay Jay January 15, 2015

    I’ll pray for Ken.
    What a tough road for a good man.

    God bless and I wish a speedy recovery.

  5. BobK BobK January 15, 2015

    Thanks so much for the update. Glad to hear Ken’s doing well so far. Prayers for a speedy recovery.


  6. lyle howard seave lyle howard seave January 16, 2015

    Ken is one of those good guys that you truly wish the best because he has given so much to the Linux world but also to people in need.

    I know how crazy expensive surgeries are in the US (my father in law has had 5 cancer surgeries in a decade and I was told once by a friend who much it would have cost him if he had lived in the US and I almost cried.)

    Having him write here now is one of those win-win situations for you, him and us.

    As for the voice, maybe he will have to double his written output to compensate but that Hawking fellow seems to have written lots of great stuff once he lost his voice.
    Im sure as soon as Ken can put his hands on a keyboard, well know it here.


  7. alc alc January 16, 2015

    Best wishes and much prayer for a quick recovery.

  8. Uncle Ed Uncle Ed January 17, 2015

    UPDATE Saturday morning 9:00

    Talked with Diane a little while ago. She said Ken is improving and getting a little more active. He has a white board and is using it. Actually, she mentioned the white board more than once and each time said his sense of humor is coming back. If you know Ken…

    They took out his catheter so he’s meeting his requirements as conventionally as you can with a bedpan. He’s still in bed but the hope is to get him up today (Saturday) and into a chair, at least for a while.

    He had asked for his laptop and Diane’s daughter set it up on his table. He has an IV in one hand and an oxygen monitor on the other, so he’s not very free to move around to use it. He hadn’t used it yesterday and I haven’t seen any new articles, so it looks like he’s getting to it slowly.

    His breathing still involves a plastic tube, though it’s not the same one he has had for a while. I didn’t quite understand where that is going and what it will be in the end. At one time Ken said they’d have to wait until the swelling goes down before making some of the decisions.

    The medical folks think he is recovering “well” and have even mentioned going home “early” once or twice. Earlier than what is still up in the air, I think. Diane is a little bit short of panic because she hasn’t heard what care he’s going to need when he gets home and what help (visit nurse, home health aide, etc.) will be provided.

    Diane was getting ready to go to the hospital when we ended. She’s not handling the walking very well, even with her walker, so they’re looking to find her a wheelchair. She’s getting a little rest and, surprisingly, isn’t pushing herself as hard as I was afraid she would. That’s a hopeful sign.

    I will post another rambling, disjointed report as soon as I hear anything.


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