Monday, December 26, 2016

Part Four - More Tests and Talking

After we successfully made it home, we got up bright and early the next day and left the house by 6:00 AM.  We needed to be at the UWMC lab at 7:30 and we live an hour away not counting traffic and rain, of which there is always some.  Pat had more appointments than I did, so I tagged along with him until I had to be somewhere else.

We both supplied blood and urine samples, then went to the Cardiology Center, where he needed another Echocardiogram.  When you're on the transplant list or being screened for the transplant, they want to make sure that the organ is going to a person who has other healthy systems; i.e., heart and lungs.  So  Pat has had CTs, ultrasounds, cardiograms, etc. every year and it was suddenly decided that since his last one was last spring, another one was necessary.  They squeezed it into our busy schedule of appointments.

It was interesting for me to watch (I don't think he could see anything) as the test is essentially an ultrasound of the activity of the heart.  The display looked just like the one you see when you're looking at your baby, but this showed the heart activity.  Sometimes there would be bursts of blue and red and I don't know if this was electrical activity or coloring by the machine to differentiate something, but it was pretty cool!

I left and went to my first appointment in the Transplant Center.  I met the Donor Nurse Coordinator, to whom I had spoken on the phone many times, but never met.  She went over what to expect in the hospital and had me sign permission forms again.  As a living donor, you are allowed to change your mind about donating any time during the entire process, so you have to give your permission and sign that you understand multiple times.

Then I met with my surgeon.  I feel so confident with him; he's kind and sensitive...not at all like what you hear about surgeons in general.  I asked him how many transplant operations he'd done and he smiled and said he'd been doing them since '82.  A good sign.  He also reiterated his philosophy that he'd told me before.  The Hippocratic Oath instructs doctors to do no harm.  He wrestles with his conscience about harming a perfectly healthy individual for the good of another.  I teased him that if he messed me up, my kids would come after him.  He replied very seriously that he would come after himself in that case.  His conscience would not let that go.  I have every confidence that he will be careful with me and the outcome will be excellent.  He showed me the CT scans of my abdomen, which were very interesting.  The right kidney will go.  The left will increase in size afterwards and eventually do 85-90% of what two kidneys do.  That, he said, is plenty.

I was finished for awhile, so joined Pat in the next room for his meetings. Patient Nurse Coordinator, Nurse Practitioner representing his surgeon (who wasn't available that day), pharmacist, and the Nephrologist who heads the transplant team, who popped in.  He is so excited to be doing this exchange and was practically beaming when talking about what good matches we have and how successful this will be.  I'm glad everyone is super confident!

Pat had to have one more immunization and we headed off to the Pre-anesthesia clinic.  We each met with a nurse to be questioned about anything that might affect the anesthesia we will be given.  They ask you things such as, "can you walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath?" and "can you walk a block or two?"  They search mainly for any heart issues that might arise during surgery.  Hey, I can swim a mile and I did a triathlon last year.  I guess I can do those things.  We both passed.

So now it's back to waiting.  I do have to give one more blood sample tomorrow but then we wait to hear from the anesthesia department on Tuesday about what time we have to show up on Wednesday morning.  And keep our fingers crossed that nothing changes between now and then.  Until we're there and ready to go I won't really believe this is happening.

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