Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two weeks plus post surgery

Well, I had a couple of important firsts last week:

Since surgery, first time to wear jeans. Yeah, it felt so normal to wear something other than loose sweat pants. I had to put something other than sweats on because I went back to helping at Sunday School. It is fun to banter with friends about my experience and motiviation.

I also returned to work, 13 days after surgery. Part of me wanted to keep doing NOTHING, but most of me wanted to get back to my regular routine. I think it was pretty easy for me to return to work quickly because I have a desk job. A more physical endeavor would have extended the return to work time. I was told that most people return to work within two to six weeks.

Finally, what I think is the most significant first since surgery; I have had several nights with normal sleep. The inability to sleep more than 1 or 2 hours at a time secondary to abdominal discomfort has been vexing. I am very grateful that my slumber patterns seem almost back to normal. Only one more big first, the first time I am able to return to working out as normal. I was advised to take off 4 weeks in regards to any exercise but walking, so that one is still in the future.

I promised last post to describe life with one kidney.....sorry, no dramatic changes or gory stories to tell. I urinate like I used to, with no visible changes. I am advised by my doctors that I should have a blood test to check kidney function (creatinine) done in 6 months and then yearly after that. So despite my initial pain and discomfort, there are no anticipated ongoing reminders of my donation.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On the road to recovery

I am now about 10 days problems, just not sleeping. Seems the only time I have discomfort is when I turn over. It seems I turn over a lot when I sleep. It has been a restful time of recovery. I definitely have no regrets about my donation, only wish I had the power to better explain my motivation. Maybe God will do a Moses thing for me and put the words in my mouth....that would be sweet!

I a still having a mighty struggle to pull the photo of Dawn from my cell phone. I will continue trying and if I fail, will at least post the picture on Facebook. It doesn't really matter what she looks like, I just thought it would make it more real for the reader, like seeing her made it more real for me. It helped to close the circle, but I also took a risk of maybe caring too much. I find myself wondering how she is doing; hoping she is out of the hospital and on her own road to recovery. I pray daily that she feels the comforting arms of the Savior and if not, somehow having my extra kidney will convey that love that surpasses all understanding to her.
Next time I post, I will talk about how it feels to have only one many people have asked me that question.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I am late in posting about meeting my extra kidney's recipient, Dawn. My brother, Randy drove me to UCLA on Friday to meet with her. I was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and she was still too "under the weather" to meet then. She is a lovely lady and I feel very blessed for having met her. She had only been on dialysis for two and a half years, but they were years of anguish. Dawn said that she had dialysis three times a week, with each treatment she would get a severe headache and vomit. She was so sick from the treatments to save her life that she was unable to work. Dawn shared that she had decided to stop the dialysis treatments, even though it meant dying. Then this transplant thing all fell into place. She agreed with me that it was a true miracle that God was able to make all the pieces fit, my kidney into her body. I forgot my camera but used the one on my phone to take a picture of us together. Unfortunately, I am having trouble emailing to myself. So, I will keep working on that high tech stuff and post more about my meeting with Dawn when I can show you her picture. Happy Fourth of July to all! God is oh so good.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post OP Day 2

The main purpose of this blog was to let everyone know what giving up a kidney meant. Well, at day 2 I would have to say it means, PAIN! I am not the strongest person when it comes to dealing with pain, so my attitude is probably warped a bit. When I think about the apostle Paul and his "thorn", I wonder if he had pain like this. If so, God Bless him. Maybe I am suffering to have a new empathy for those in constant pain. I am so fortunate to know that my pain is short-lived.

So today is worse than yesterday, but I am sure that tomorrow will be better than both. A bit of good news, I found out that my extra kidney weighed one pound....that is one pound of weight lost without having to diet. In addition, I have been restricted from any kind of "core" work with my trainer for a month. I am not sad about that at all! I am working with the transplant coordinator to try and arrange a meeting with the recipient, Dawn tomorrow. Seeing the reason for donation will be a balm to all my pains.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Post Op Day 1

Well, it's a done deal. I am now officially a "one kidney" woman. The pre-op experience was professional and effecient. I woke up from anesthesia just like I was waking from a nap. My friend, Cecile is a scrub tech. She advised me to tell the anesthesiologist that I didn't want to be nauseous when I woke up. Really? Seems wierd that you have to tell them. The aneshesiologist assured me that she would give me an anti-emetic (throw-up) medicine at the end of surgery to prevent nausea....Yeah, it worked!

In the recovery room, I don't remember having any pain, but then again they did tell me I had diluadid, a very strong narcotic. My back hurt from the thin mattress on the recovery room gurney, so I was most excited to get to my room and the plush hospital bed. The surgery took 5 hours, an hour longer than usual because God blessed me with extra renal arteries. Most people have 1 and I have three into each kidney. I was aghast to find out that in order to get to the kidney they had to bend me like a pretzel with my arms over my head. I shaved my legs, but not my underarms as I assumed no one would see my pits!

My Mom had accompanied me to the hospital and my sister, Diane and her son Jared arrived while I was in surgery. I got to my room around 1830 and they were both there within a few minutes. My twin brother, Randy and his wife Carrie arrived soon thereafter. All hovered over me and attended to my every desire. Mom spent the night on a couch in the room. I was so glad to have her as it was kind of a rough night. I had a lot of left side pain from being bent like a pretzel and couldn't get comfy.

Tony was my night nurse and he was GREAT. He was extremely caring and compasionate. He also accomadated to the fact that both my Mom and I were nurses, letting us have our way in practically everything.

This morning I am doing very well. My foley catheder (drains urine) is out and I had a light breakfast. Suzanne, the transplant coordinator will be over later in the day and I might meet the recipient. I have heard that she is doing well and producing lots of that means my extra kidney has found a good home and nice and comfy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking where He wants me to go

Mom and I are up and ready to leave for the hospital. I have to admit that even though I was supposed to be NPO (nothing by mouth) since midnight, I had two sips of coffee at 0500. It was imperative for my good being!

"A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps" Proverbs 16:9.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Journey towards Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day, the day my extra kidney goes to someone who needs it more than I do. I am not nervous, just anxious to get it done.

Now pretty much everyone I know is aware of the impending surgery and donation. Some think I am crazy, some admire me, but all ask why. I am not totally sure of the reason except for the fact that I feel God means for me to do this.

The process started in September 2009. After some internet searching, I found the National Kidney Registry ( This organization's mission is to facilitate living donations. I submitted a lengthy medical history, physical examination and the results of many blood and urine tests. After about a month, I was contacted and told I was a probable candidate for donation. In March, I was told that UCLA was the medical center where I would continue my work-up. The last few tests were the "big" ones; CAT scan of the kidneys, more blood tests and a cardiac stress test. After all of these tests, I saw the surgeon. He told me that I my kidneys had extra arteries and veins. The doctor told me that this vascular abnormality would make it hard to "hook" my kidney into another person.

In late May, I received a call from the transplant coordinator; there was a recipient for my extra kidney. Apparently, in the hands of a skilled transplant surgeon, all my extra arteries and veins make little difference.

Tomorrow am I will head to the hospital; have to be there by 0800. In preparation for the procedure, I have been on clear liquids only for the last 48 hours and had to do a not so pleasant bowel cleansing procedure tonight.