It's hard to type with a pulse ox taped to my left index finger, not to mention all the other contraptions I'm hooked to! But it is less than yesterday. Each hour is a little better. I'm just now getting my first food in about 56 hours, so that's helping a lot, and I just walked two laps around the hallways. Slowly but surely recovering.
I'll try reviewing the last 36 hours since we arrived at the hospital for surgery, minus the anesthesia of course Dale and I arrived for check-in at main registration at 6:00. Got my bracelets and paperwork, then up to ASU 2 to check in. They brought both of us back to a room we stayed in for the next 2 hours. A nurse came to to review paperwork, meds, etc, they changed me into a gown, put my IV in. The anesthesiologist came in to talk about how that would go, and I was comfortable with that. The surgeon, Dr. Samara, came in to explain things to me and Dale. I had talked to him once before in April and things had changed slightly since our first conversation which was mostly about a left laparoscopic nephrectomy because later they decided to do a right open nephrectromy. But he was excellent.
Just before 7:00 and Dustin and Kenzie were able to come by to visit before he went to hospital dialysis which preceded his surgery. We had a nice visit and it struck me again how we are all 4 calm and capable people which added to the collective feeling of being ready and feeling like this is really the right thing to do. I think they left just after 7:00, and Dale and I were in that room until a little after 8:30. My surgery time had changed from from 8:00 to 8:30. I remember the clock moving SO SLOWLY between 7:30 and 8:30. We joked and waited and checked messages. I stared at the ceiling and thought about important things.
Finally the nurse came in to push me on the gurney into surgery and we made the very long trek to what felt like the back hallways of the hospital, a very sterile and industrial feeling. The room was much bigger than I expected with very high ceilings. They spoke nicely to me and had me move onto the operating table. I followed a few instructions but I don't remember what they were... things went dark then. The operation was underway.
The doctor and nurse coordinator came out to give Dale updates: When they had me open and were working on the kidney, when the kidney was out, when i was closed up and moved to recovery. They said there were some pain management issues to work out as I awoke but I don't remember them. When I remember waking up I was still and sore, but not in pain. I was drifting in and out of consciousness. They were giving me fentanyl at that point which Tyler had warned me to tell them not to do because of nausea, but I didn't have any problems with it. Nurse Ashley or someone came and told me the operation was successful and everything went well. I smiled as I went back to sleep. It was good to hear that my part was done. Now I just had to hear that Dustin's was good.
I might have been recovery for an hour or two, then they brought me up to my private room here on 10E which is right next to Dustin's room. I think Dale was here when I arrived. I'm really fuzzy about that part and most of that afternoon and evening, but I do remember hearing that the transplant was sucessful and the kidney was working right away. A friend of ours came by (Shaun) and then another (Randy) and I do remember both. Dale left around 8pm to go back to the hotel. Nurses and others were in and out of the room all afternoon and night, checking vitals, giving meds and IVs, hooking me up to things, asking questions. They came in most of the night and I didn't sleep very solidly due to discomfort. Fortunately the bed isn't too bad to stay in one position because I was unable to move much.
So that was all Monday night into Tuesday, and right now it's Tuesday night. I've progressed a LOT since this morning. I couldn't imagine eating anything this morning, and now I'm ready to eat easy soft things (and have consumed a few). This morning I had a good bit of nausea and that's gone now thanks to anti-nausea meds and stopping the opiates. This morning I hadn't gotten out of the bed and now I'm doing laps in the hallway. This morning I had a catheter and now I've been to the bathroom myself 5 or 6 times (evidently my remaining kidney is doing just fine). This morning I could barely think straight enough to read messages on my phone, and now I'm typing this. So today was mostly just making slow progress with food, arrangements, moving around, medicine, etc. Dale was a huge help, and so patient. He's not used to seeing me like that - immobile, slow, and somewhat helpless! We did also get to visit with Dustin and Kenzie a couple of times. They are doing great!! I am so pleased to hear good reports on the transplanted kidney which now goes by Idunne. However, I feel no ownership of it anymore. I just really want a good outcome for Dustin.
My incision is one straight line about the length of my hand if I stretch it out pinky to thumb. It goes from two inches above my belly button to my left side. I'm going to like the scar. Dr. Samara stitched it up like plastic surgery and glued it, so I won't have staple marks. He did say that he was glad that I agreed to the open surgery, because it was easier to get the renal vein. It was split into two veins where it connects to the kidney, so by being able to get it right off the inferior vena cava (as I understand it) gave him a more viable organ to transplant. This would have been very difficult or impossible get it out this way laparoscopically.
Nurse Ashley came by to give me the donor educational materials - i.e. the remainder of recovery to take it easy because I don't want to deal with an incisional hernia, and how to live life afterwards with one kidney - basically, the same with a few minor exceptions. One is that Tylenol should be my go-to for pain rather than Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. Another is that I should avoid getting dehydrated; so, 2 liters of liquid per day. She also recommends not going on a high protein diet, though this recommendation varies widely depending on who you ask. Things like this long term I can always consult with Seth.
They say I'll likely be here all day tomorrow and get discharged on Thursday. I'm looking forward to that, but I do need to prepare for it -- the attention will die down (both medical and all the online messages, etc.) and after a couple more days with Dale in the hotel, I'll have a quiet 10 days of recovery here in OKC staying with a friend before my mom comes up to bring me home after my post-op appointment with the surgeon. Fortunately, there is more of the story to watch happening, as Dustin gets back to healthier with the new kidney and he and his family can move on with their lives. So there really is no end here, the happiness generated from this event will continue on indefinitely. I'm certainly good with that.
Anna Cannington has offered to be part of this program. As a kidney donor with a nephrologist brother (not to mention next level human) she will be able to provide unique insight into "other side" of the transplant process. It is particularly apt for her to join up as she is Dustin's Donor. To schedule a conversation with either of Anna or Dustin just connect with either of us!
Dustin was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (Berger's Disease) in early 2007. He and his family know well the struggles that come with suffering kidney failure, dialysis and the transplant processes. Born from these fustrations and Dustin's love of strengths-based coaching (centered on what is best in people) comes the Kidney Koach program. This NO FEE program is for Renal patients, their families and nursing staff that want support, understanding and a little help on the path.