Sunday, July 24, 2016

Do you want to build a kidney man

I awoke today with an upset tum tum because last night I celebrated with friends and even though I only had 2.5 drinks my body was not happy when I got home. In fact it was down right annoyed with me.

Why was it annoyed you ask. Thanks for asking btw. because 2.5 weeks ago I donated a kidney and my body is still healing so throwing some delicious booze into it doesn't help matters much.

How did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife, etc. etc. Talking Heads songs etc.

Lets try this again. How did I end up donating one of my kidneys. Well lets go into the way back machine and figure this out.

Earlier this year (2016) A friend, who I will call "George" to hide his identity put out a distress call. "George" had a problem, his kidneys were failing him and he needed a transplant or else he would be resigned to a life of dialysis. Not a great prognosis for a young, active guy so I read it, Danielle read it we were saddened for him, and wanted to help. So I reached out to him asking what the steps were.

Danielle and I, along with some others that I know of began the process of seeing if we were able to donate. At first it was a simple email questionnaire. I passed it, Danielle failed, she was out.

Next step was some blood work to check some things. Blood type, what's in my blood, how does our blood react together etc. etc.

So I show up, give about 174 vials of blood meet with some people and away i go.

About a 2 weeks later I get a call saying your a potential match. We'd like it if you came in for the real test to see if you'd make an acceptable donor.

At this point I start thinking "Holy Shit! I just filled out an online form because I thought It was a good thing to do but I didn't think i'd keep getting called back!"

At this point "George" said there was others ahead of me in the testing phase so I was confident that I was not going to donate, what are the chances.........idiot.

I set up the appt. for the big test and I was instructed to collect my pee the day before the big test, and keep it cold the entire time. That was fun.....

The big test day has arrived.

I was told to arrive at nine am and expect to be there all day. Okay, I arrive at nine and begin the day.
First, i'm checked in then I get my blood pressure checked. It is a little high so I am ordered a 24 hour blood pressure monitor to wear and I'm sent on my way to another room. In room 2 a lot of blood, A LOT OF BLOOD is drawn. My blood pressure is checked again this time its back down to regular numbers.

Next room! I meet with my coordinator. The donor coordinator was my advocate throughout this process, she didn't know George at all, not a bit about his case.Her entire job is to focus on the donor.This was all done with my safety, and rights in mind. A very interesting process.

Next room! The social worker. This was where things started to get heavy. We had a nice conversation and then she very smoothly started getting into more serious questions, basically checking my mental state.

Some of the questions were about how I would do if the kidney is rejected, if "George" doesn't take care of my kidney, what if I get sick due to donating. I answered everything correctly I guess since we ended our conversation and I moved on to the physical tests.

I got x-rayed, CT scanned, EKG you name it and I went through it. The CT scan was odd. I was injected with this white liquid that went into my arm and I felt this hot liquid crawl into the back of my throat, right down my spine through my taint and then faded away.

I go home. It took about 5 hours so almost a full day. I went home thinking "Okay, lets see what's next."

Next step was the 24 hour blood pressure monitor. What a pain in the ass that was. I did it, sent to back and waited. While I waited the hospital called. I had to redo the blood and urine test they didn't like one result.So I got a little more blood drawn and start thinking that this is probably where I will get disqualified. Or the blood pressure. Either way I figured something will disqualify me.

A week after I retake the blood test and sent back the monitor I get a call from the hospital. Surprise, surprise they cleared me! The blood test came back fine, as was my blood pressure. I was told to take at least a week, talk it over with my family and decide if i want to do this. I have to say that the hospital throughout this process was fantastic, at no time did they ever pressure me into anything. They made it perfectly clear  that this was my choice and I could say no at any time. They are amazing people.

I  took a week, talked to my brain trust, my family. In my head I was trying to find a way to not donate simply because I didn't want to do it.

After a week of really deep contemplation I couldn't justify saying no. I talked to everyone one last time and told them that I will be donating, then I text "George". Actually it was through Facebook messenger that I told him the good news. That was an awesome conversation, telling him yes was exciting, and a bit of a relief since I now knew what was coming. I hate when things are up in the air, even if the upcoming event isn't pleasant, like major surgery I'm better mentally knowing what to prepare for than not.

Lets just skip up to the weekend before the surgery. July 4th weekend to be exact and it was weird. We hung out with "George" and his family and it was a terrific day but with the surgery looming I felt a bit anxious. Monday, July 4th I usually go to a very nice picnic but not this time. I was home alone drinking a drink that was supposed to let it all out. I drank it and waited, and waited, and waited. nothing really happened. At least not like everyone said it would so I went bed knowing the next day would be intense.

Tuesday, July 5th. Danielle and I get up, the girls spent the week at my parents which helped a lot. I pack an overnight bag and away we go. The easiest way to get to the upper east side for us is the ferry to the subway. it was a great ferry ride, the subway was fine and we walked the rest of the way to the hospital having somewhat odd conversation but overall we are both calm. Checking in felt odd, the day actually arrived, surgery day.

This fucking day is actually here. I have agreed to let a surgeon cut me open,  remove one of my organs that is working perfectly fine btw. and then patch me up. Now, that organ is going to save a life its not like its going to be chucked on the ground but still this is a big, insane, surreal experience.

After check in, I'm put on scrubs, Danielle is with "George's" wife we will call "Marcy" to protect her identity. I go get Danielle and we hang in a little room. "George, Marcy, and George's sister" are in another room.

I see the surgeon one more time, I met him a week ago to discuss the surgery and what I should expect. He's a dreamboat, tall, in shape, amazing hair, and most of all a confidence level that if   harnessed could power Manhattan.

I get the call to head to the O.R. I say good bye to Danielle, "George, and Marcy" and head off. Now it gets really, really intense. Its just me and a nurse walking down a long hallway as she explains to me whats going to happen. Im half listening as my head is swirling a bit. She hands me off to the O.R. staff they ask me more questions and then bring me into the O.R.

The O.R. room freaked me out!!!! It was a stark, uninviting room. Fluorescent lights, bare white walls, just not a room id like to be in if I didn't have to be. The staff though was warm, and comforting. They put that clear plastic mask over my mouth i remember talking to them and then I was being awoken, in another room, very confused, extremely thirsty, not knowing where I am, what happened. Not a fun feeling.

Some time passes. I have no idea how long and I'm wheeled into an elevator to my room.
In the recovery room I had an Iv with morphine, awesome. I felt no pain. They had to unhook it as I'm wheeled to my room by the time I got there I was feeling the pain so the Percocet train began to roll in. Choo choo!!!!

From Tuesday late afternoon until Thursday midday I was in my room. Tuesday night was rough but I made it through. I was looked into every 4 hours by the staff, unfortunately they were about an hour apart so it was more like every 3 hours that someone came to check on me. NOT VERY RESTFUL!

Tuesday night I was told that I would walk tomorrow. I said "ok" but in my head I was like there's no fucking way I will be able to walk tomorrow. No fucking way.

Wednesday morning I'm up at 5:30am, why? because someone came in to look at my sutures, or check a pulse, or something. I have no idea actually all i know is that I was up at 5:30 am.

At 6am the nurses aide comes in and asks me if I want to walk. Surprisingly I felt like I could so I got ready. I adjusted the bed, no biggie. Turned my body so my legs could touch the floor, that hurt. Finally I grabbed my little IV stand and got up. Very shaky legs, remember I still haven't had real food since Monday afternoon but i began shuffling up and down the hallway.

The aide was very excited "You're walking!" I looked at her like no shit, but now I can see how important it was for me to do that.

My next important job was to fart. the sooner I fart the sooner I can eat and go home. Percocet binds you up, plus my guts were all blown up with gas from the procedure and if the gas wasn't in my intestines then it traveled up my diaphragm into my shoulders. Did you ever have a white hot ball of steel rammed into your shoulder blades, if so the you know how that feels if not then good for you.

The more I walk, the more I move gasses around the sooner I fart so I was up a lot, I wanted out of there. Don't get me wrong the place was great its just not a restful place.

When I was wheeled into my room on Tuesday I had the IV in one hand and a back up in the other, a catheter in place, and these inflatable booties on my legs that would randomly inflate so i didn't get blood clots.

By Wednesday afternoon the booties came off since I was walking and the catheter came out, not the best feeling but not as bad as expected, the meant that I now had to get up to pee in the toilet and reality began to set in about how weak I was, and how much my abdomen hurt. it hurt a lot. Coughing was not fun. I was given this plastic doo hicky that I had to inhale through. I had to do this a few times an hour to reduce the chances of Pneumonia.

A few hours later

Hey Hey I passed gas!!! Wednesday afternoon, a little toot. It was like heaven. All morning I could feel the gas burbling around but it had no where to go. Finally though the damn broke and sweet relief. This meant I could eat food, no more jello, or chicken broth but actual food!

Boy that jello wasn't so bad compared to what I was given......Actually the dinner was ok, I ate some but i didn't want to overeat and get sick. Thursday morning's breakfast was a different story. I woke up a tad nauseous and when i looked at the "eggs" I almost puked. I steadied myself and had a bite. I was wrong they weren't bad, they were hideous, atrocious whatever word you want to use. I asked the nurse for something to quell my nausea and once I calmed down I ate cheerios, delicious cheerios.

Post surgery I had 2 jobs. Get up and walk, and fart. Since I did both I could go home. I was still queasy but I wasn't going to stay another night there.

On my way out I went to say goodbye to "George". I was feeling pretty beat up so it was a quick visit. "George" had some family visiting and when he told them who i was there wanted to grab mer and squeeze me put I put my hands up right away to stop them. A hug would have been the last thing I wanted at the moment. I told everyone that once were all healed up we would have a great big party.

Ah driving in New York City. On a perfect day its annoying on this day it was horrible, Still nauseous,  extremely weak, and sensitive to every crack in the road I did not enjoy heading home.

Thursday afternoon I'm home, less than 48 hours and i'm not feeling great. Still nauseous, and now sweating I'm afraid that I might have to call the hospital but before I do I have Danielle get me some Alka Seltzer and wouldn't you know it ol' "plop plop fizz fizz Oh what a relief it is" did the trick and within 30 minutes I was starving.

Since I got back home each day has been better than the last. I still get exhausted after simply walking but each day I am stronger, and my energy level increases. I am now almost three weeks past the  surgery and I'm close to feeling 100% like my old self. In another 2 weeks i'lll be cleared to resume my life as if nothing happened.

This has been quite a ride. It took me a while to wrap my head around what I did mainly because I went into a room, was put to sleep, then I was awoken a couple of hours later in pain. So even though I was there, I wasn't present to see my kidney leave, or go to into "George" but I know its gone, and I know he has it.

I don't know exactly what to say to people about this, They are all overwhelmed when they hear about it and keep saying how amazing it is. Now I just agree. I don't really know what to say.

Would I do it all again? Yes, without a doubt.