Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Red Kidney of Courage



I know its high time for an update, and if you know me you know that I have no excuse and I've just been wasting time watching silly videos on the internet and playing video games. However despite my laziness we do have a lot to update everyone on, and a few things that I think are worth talking about.


First of all Dialysis is going what I consider 'well'. The first week few days did not go great and I was feeling very ill. This would be all well and good except Liza's surgery was on the day after my 3rd Dialysis treatment. That night I spiked a fever of 103.4, but I was way too worried about Liza's upcoming hospitalization to consider any kind of medical care beyond taking a few Tylenol and waiting it out. It was a very stressful morning and I have to say I appreciate that Liza has enduring my own surgeries so well.

Once they took her back I could not sit still. I was fidgety and couldn't help but wander around the hospital, just looking for either a distraction or a way to pass the time. Eventually I found my way to the Transplant Clinic downstairs, as I figure that if my nurse was available I could tell her about my fever and see if things had improved.

However I did not realize how dire a fever of 103.4 was, and she immediately sent me to the Emergency Room to be admitted, tested, and monitored. So while Liza was going through surgery a few rooms down, I was lying in an ER bed while they made sure my fever wasn't a sign of a life-threatening infection. Of course this meant that when Liza finally regained consciousness I was stuck in the ER department plugged into all kinds of machines, not allowed to leave to see how my wife was doing. She did manage to find out what had happened to me and called me at my ER phone from her Recovery Room phone. Fortunately my Mother was with us and was able to act as a go-between, keeping track of both of our locations so we could stay in contact until we were both given a room (the hospital doesn't allow more than one person to a room).

So now here we were, on the eve of our 4th Wedding Anniversary, sleeping in separate hospital beds. Liza obviously had it worse, as I believe the incision they gave her is bigger than any of the 3 or 4 that I have. It was a rough couple days but we managed to make it through and we were both released from the hospital before the weekend of the 15th.

For the first week after our release, neither one of us were really ready to drive (Liza is still too sore and drugged up to operate heavy machinery), but we had help from my incredible Aunt Jackie - who flew in from Philadelphia just to help us with our every day activities. She drove me to and from Dialysis and work and provided us with groceries and company while we got our bearings. Liza also had a veritable army of friends visiting her and making sure she had plenty of company to show off her knitting prowess. We really are fortunate to have so many people willing to help us out and lift our spirits.

Things have kind of calmed down now. Liza is on the way to recovery and is much more mobile, able to get around the house with relative ease. She's got plenty of knitting, weaving, spinning, and kitties to keep her occupied over the next few weeks of healing. I am also feeling much better, and haven't had another fever spike due to dialysis yet. I'm even able to drive myself now!



Dialysis is certainly an interesting feeling. There is something just a little unnerving knowing that there is a plastic tube on my chest that is, more or less, connected directly to my heart. If something went wrong with this 'perma-cath' I could bleed to death in under 2 minutes, if I recall the nurse's briefing. The actual process of going to Dialysis isn't really as much of a chore as I'd imagined. It's right down the road, they have a comfortable seat for me, they plug me into my machine, and I either nap or play my gameboy for 4 hours. That isn't to say that it doesn't have its complications. Right now they are trying to determine the best level of fluid in which to remove from my system during each treatment. I must admit I don't know the technicalities, I just know how I feel afterward. If they remove too much I'm jittery and I experience sporadic cramping. These cramps aren't messing around either, once they start I'm usually writhing in pain until the nurse pumps me full of fluids again. The cramps continue after the treatment is over, but I guess that's why they give me the good stuff in the little bottle.

Hopefully in the next few weeks the cramps and pain will have evened out and Liza will be well on her way to recovery. In any case, that's how things are going on our end!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Old Kidney Shoppe

I don't know why but Dickens' story titles lend themselves well to inserting the word 'Kidney' in them. Purely coincidence, I assure you.

Well it's been too long since we've had any updates for this blog, which honestly was kind of a mixed blessing. My health was more or less stable for the past 2-3 weeks and aside from a few adjustments to my medications, we thought that maybe things would be going smoothly until we were ready to go through with the transplant. That turned out to be wishful thinking, though.

This week's Monday labs came back with less than stellar results. My Creatinine has risen to 8.8, which is more than 10 times what 'normal' is, and about 5 times higher than normal even for me. In addition my 'Creatinine Clearance' is at around 8. Creatinine Clearance roughly translates to the equivalent percent of kidney function, so that means my body is functioning at roughly 8% of a normal person's kidneys. All this wouldn't be so bad if the symptoms were under control, which they really aren't any more. I get winded walking a few steps, I sleep much more than is normal, I'm fatigued, and I'm losing weight due to lack of any real appetite.

So that means that this week I'm going to go on Dialysis. They want to make sure I'm in the routine and everything is squared away with me so that I can be prepared for next week when it's Liza's turn to be the patient. Her surgery is now only a week away, and I'm going to need to be able to take care of her post-surgery needs and my own dialysis-related health issues. It's going to be a rough couple of weeks, but we have friends and family here to help and we're 'lucky' enough to be very familiar with the hospital that all this will be occurring at.

I'll try to update this again once I know exactly how Dialysis will affect me. I'm hoping I'll ultimately feel better, but everything I've been led to believe about Dialysis has me concerned that it will only make me feel even more tired and run ragged.