The Big Day.
I really didn’t have a hard time getting to sleep the night before and getting up at 3am wasn’t as draining as I had imaged. The typical morning runaround and off to the hospital like another day of work. Just as planned, we pulled in to park, get out and find Clay and Angela just parking in the aisle across from us. We walked right in, imagine at, no line at 5:30am. Registration was a breeze and then family arrived. My dad, my mom and step dad were there for us.
We were directed to the basement and signed in. Only a few minutes later, Clay was called to his room and I followed shortly afterwards. It was gown time.
We got situated in our rooms, fortunately directly across from each other, with only curtain doors. We met the nurses and the anesthesiologist and then each of our surgeons stopped by. The atmosphere was just light with burst of joking and kidding from both rooms. I recall Clay getting quite a response when they went to insert his IV and he called out bad touching bad touching.
It didn’t take long and Clay was wheeled off to get the show started. It was maybe 45min to an hr later, they wheeled me off to my room. I was giving the option to be wheeled into the operating room or to walk on my own. I choose to walk in. I walked in, was directed to not touch anything, and then lay on the narrow table. There were more people buzzing around than I expected. 5-6 nurses prepping and working like the end of the world was coming. The best one of all of course was the one talking to me and explaining how I was going to be going to sleep. I was giving a mask and told to breath and off I went.
Both surgeries were determined a success. I had an issue with plaque in my vain and it caused some concern and extra work. We were taken to the recovery center and given private rooms. I don’t recall much if any of the rest of this day or the next. I have some brief memories of my son Lorean bringing my grand daughter Ella up to visit with the family.
The Day After
When we met with my surgeon that morning, he explained that this was going to be a breeze. The kidney match was perfect; we were both in good health…. Well, we can all blame him for jinxing it then. My plaque issue and vein connection turned out to be a trouble maker.
Tuesday I was on an ice chip diet. Sounds fun doesn’t it, NO! I had a couple different bags of fluids connected to direct IV in my next. The central IV was plumbed straight to my heart. I had known this beforehand and thought it would be uncomfortable, but mostly I didn’t notice it other than the 4 tubes taped to my neck. Fortunately, one of those lines was connected to a little button that I controlled giving me short doses of dilaudid. For such a large incision, you would think there would be a good bit of pain. I don’t know, I was taking full advantage of the magic button every time the light came on. I also had a catheter, so no need to get up from the bed. I was also aware that would occur and only dreaded the eventual removal. Not having to get out of bed was a definite fair trade. Just rolling over for the nurses and doctors was hard enough. Later that day, I was upgraded to clear liquid diet and got some fine jello and just being able to drink water was amazing. The magic thing they want from me now is a bowel movement. I was trying, but nothing going on. At this point, my new kidney was working like a rock star. My creatinine was reading at 1 and my GFR was up to 75. Everything looked great!
Maybe Go Home
Wednesday things were moving along fine. I was upgraded to food diet and ate 3 meals. The hospital food wasn’t bad and the menu list was 4-5 pages long. Breakfast was my favorite. This was also the day that Clay was getting discharged. I was starting to have a lot of pressure build up in my stomach that was more uncomfortable than the incision. I was given laxatives and even a shot in my stomach to help stimulate things. This continued through Thursday with the pain increasing. There wasn’t much sleeping to be had in the hospital. It is a University hospital and most of the nurses are young girls. My room was right outside the nurse station and this group of girls were like a group of high school buds, up giggling and laughing loudly all night. One of them was leaving to go to Riley and they had a party for her and it was just plain annoying.
Thursday was more of the same. More pain, still on full food diet. No luck on bowel movement, but the kidney is working overtime and everyone is thrilled with my labs and the thinking I will be going home possibly today, most likely tomorrow. I was original thinking I should be home by the weekend with Saturday in mind. As the day went on the pain in my stomach grew, my pain level was up to 7 or 8 and even the magic button wasn’t much help. I can’t imagine what it would be like without it.
It was the middle of the night Thursday and I had tried to go to #2, no luck, just some gas, but with the pain, it was a slight relief. I was instructed to call the nurses after each bathroom, so I did. I went from the toilet to the recliner in the room to set for a minute. I was in a lot of pain. The nurse then helped me to the bed. I remember getting to the bed with 2 nurse beside me and the pain went to #11, I burst out in sweat and my head swirled, I said out loud, this is not good, then fell completely into one of the nurses arms. I could feel myself land in her arms like a dead weight as things went black. I woke up with nurse all around me, I recall the head nurse calling out my name loudly as I awoke. All the lights went on and the place lit up like a football stadium. Buzzer were going off, people were jumping all around, carts were being wheeled in and there was a definite sense of panic. I was settled back in the bed and regained composure. I had just gone completely out. The doctor on call was brought in. I laid there in extreme pain for almost 3 hrs before she arrived. She was a young intern and determined I needed xrays and from that she determined I needed an enema. I was game, thinking a good flush would get the system going and clear out all that pressure. This was not the experience I thought I had signed up for. Not a simple fleet bottle, oh no this was the real deal big bag. I was actually a relief, but my pain was still at 5-6 and the abdominal pressure was not reduced. Morning was close and I so looked forward to seeing a real doctor. I knew things were not good, but I wasn’t aware just how bad they were.
Friday is here and my surgeon comes in to get updated on the fun events of the night. He checks me over and gets a very harsh look of concern on his face. I have large bruising up my back side, the pressure in my stomach is extreme and I am in a lot of pain. He is actually pretty quick with his evaluation and calls for a Cat scat stat. He is concerned enough at this point that he is not leaving my side. He called for transport and wheels me down to the Cat scan himself. His opinion at his point is that I either have trapped gas or internal bleeding, the scan will tell. If there is internal bleeding, He will have to open me back up, clean up the leak and fix it. If it’s just gas, he says they will have to stick a finger up my ass to get that fixed. The scan was quick and the results were too. There was bleeding and emergency operation was set in place. My surgeon, Dr. Goggins, is a top level doctor. He does all of the kidney installs. So when he wants something done, people jump. It was almost instantly, I was wheeled into the operating room and I was breathing that magic gas again. 1.2 liter of blood were removed from my abdomen and the leak was fixed. My incision was now a couple inches longer, but it was all still one long cut. I don’t remember much of the rest of that day or the next.
It’s All Good
Not much happening the next couple of days. My pain was back down to 2-3 and I was on the terrible ice chip diet. Dr is concerned about my blood more than my kidney. I’m on a new drip and still getting fluids. Because of the large blood loose, I was giving a bag of blood. Evenutally the IVs are stopped, the catheter is removed and I’m starting to go #2. During the 2nd operation, they installed a drain in my side. It was a little tube with a bag that collected the extra drainage. It was also remove on Wednesday. I got up and walked some, probably not as much as they have liked to see but I was getting gut on my own pretty well and things looked to be on track. My blood labs were not the best and I was put back on IV fluids. I’m starting to think, I will get to go home this weekend for sure, then my nurse comments that her opinion is I will be there until next Mon\Tues. Please NO! Well, we were both wrong and Thursday morning, 11 days after the original transplant I am cleared to leave. It takes most of the day to finish up my transplant training, meet with the pharmacist and my coordinator, go over my future plans, medications, do’s and don’ts…. I left the hospital at 5:00pm and made it home in time to watch the NFL opening game for this year. It was good to be home in my recliner. What a journey. A new life starts with a full array of pills for me, for life.