My time in the recovery room was a bit of a blur, for the most part. Heavily drugged with Dilaudid, I still remember the moment my sister and mom entered the room to my bedside. I gave them a slippery smile and a thumbs-up, feeling so good about what had just happened. It's times like these that make me so thankful to have such a supportive and loving family. I don't know what I would have done if they weren't there. Presence is comfort and sometimes words aren't necessary.
From what I've been told, my surgery lasted 2 hours and I spent 2 hours in recovery. I remember the young man wheeling me from recovery to my room and joking with me about my crush on Derek Jeter. (Apparently he is on my mind when I'm unconscious too!) Sliding my body over from the gurney to my hospital bed was excruciating. This young man that seemed so cute and appealing only moments before was now the sounding board for every foul word I could utter - poor little fella. Anyhow, I'm in bed and then the parade of nurses and attendants begin their grand entrance. As you all know, it never stops, for the duration of your stay. Every 15 minutes someone is entering the room with a request to poke and prod. Forget sleeping because you know the minute you're just starting to fall into a nice snooze, housekeeping feels the need to empty your garbage can.
Surgery was Wednesday morning and by early evening that night, the nurse had me up and walking. That first time getting out of bed was hell, I'll admit it. I can't decide which was more painful - navigating all the IV and catheter tubes while trying to walk, or putting one foot in front of the other to make my way down the hall. If they have those little clips for all your electronic wires at home why can't they come up with some nifty little device that just clamps all that shit together in one convenient tube? I felt like a fly caught in a spider's web. Help, get me outta here! Oh, and they have these cute little signs in the hallway that mark every 50 feet so you can track the distance you've traveled on your "Road to Recovery". Hey, I have an idea, how about a rest-stop every so often with a little stand that could offer pain meds and cool beverages to get you through your next 100 feet or so? No?
Thursday, September 23, 2010 ::
Didn't sleep at all Wednesday night. I mean, at all. That bed, NO, it's not a bed, it's a giant maxi pad strapped to chicken wire, was the most uncomfortable thing I've ever been horizontal on. Seriously, the shiny, linoleum floor was looking pretty damn good by about Thursday night. Thursday morning was hell, again. My back and abdomen felt like it had been gutted and left open for the vultures to snack on. Ugh, the pain. More Percocet, please? Ah, how sweet it is. My first meal: bagel with cream cheese and jelly, apple juice, apple sauce, hard-boiled egg and hot tea - yummy! A can of 9 Lives would have tasted good, since I hadn't eaten since 1:30 on Tuesday. I was so excited to be able to brush my teeth and wash my face. Not so excited to look in the mirror however. Maybelline, where are you?
Since the bed was so uncomfortable, and I couldn't sleep, I walked. And I walked, and I walked. Little did I know I would complete a 5K while hospitalized. It's the best thing for me, I know, and it truly is the quickest method to recovery. They told me I could go home Thursday night but since my family hadn't made plans to come pick me up until Friday, I stayed another night. I did manage to sleep 2 full hours that evening and it was like heaven.
Friday, September 24, 2010 ::
Friday morning, the surgeon stopped in to give his discharge approval and checked the womb. He said I had 'beautiful insides' and that my nephrectomy (big medical term meaning... kidney extraction) was one of his smoothest. Yeah! Seriously, this was a huge compliment to me and I felt so flattered. This, is precisely why I feel it's so important to live a healthy life. My motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle is so that my organs, bones, blood and brain stays strong and solid to carry me for many, many more years.
The best news I received that morning was via a phone call from California from the recipients' transplant coordinator, Suzanne. I knew on Thursday morning that her transplant was successful, but had not heard any updates since. Suzanne wanted to share with me the news that my recipient did indeed wish to contact me! You can't imagine how happy I was to hear this. As I wiped away the tears, Suzanne told me how she read my letter to the recipient and her family after she came out of recovery. She said that they were all so touched and repetitively told Suzanne to tell me 'thank you', over and over. I decided that I wanted my recipient to initially contact me via email, as opposed to a phone call. I'm really drugged up and knew that I would be for days, the last thing I wanted was to be incoherent or half asleep when I received that special call. So, as you can imagine, I have been checking my inbox every hour with anticipation of seeing a new email pop up from my special partner.
|I'm really happy here, but the Percocet has temporarily frozen my facial expressions.|
My mom and brother-in-law arrived at 10:15am to take me home. The hospital gave me my Award of Appreciation and it's evident that my sister gave explicit instructions to my BIL to capture every Kodak moment available. And he did. Pretty, aren't I?
|Secured in the passenger seat, surrounded by pillows and glossed over with|
yet another dose of painkillers for the rode!
May I say that the 3 hour ride from NY to my apartment was quite possibly the most uncomfortable, and longest, car rides of my life. Every little bump felt like a punch to the gut. Soooooo painful and all the pillows in the world couldn't have softened the blows. But, I made it, and pulling in my driveway was a moment to remember.
|As excited as I was to exit the vehicle at home, every tiny movement hurt.|
I'm home now, and so comforted by my own bed and my affectionate cat. I am sleeping all the time, or so it seems. I have to walk daily, and I do. My appetite is kicking in again but my stomach won't absorb too much food right now. Little bites and small portions, and lots of water. I feel great. I am so happy that I did this and would do all over again tomorrow, but then I wouldn't have any kidneys left at all. I am anxiously anticipating the email from my recipient and can't wait to share a part of that with you all.
My journey through all this has been probably the most meaningful experience in my life, and it's only just begun. I hope to become a mentor in the living donor community and make it my mission to spread the word about the option of being an altruistic living kidney donor. I would not have been able to do any of this without the unconditional love and support of my family. I am so blessed to have them in my life and be there for me when I need them most. I have wonderful and caring friends that have been so kind and caring during my recovery and I want you all to know how much your cards, emails, gifts and phone calls have meant to me. I love you all.
Until next time... could someone please go running for me? I miss it!