Friday, May 17, 2013

"We Did It!" and More Tales from My Hospital Stay

2 Weeks with the Kidney

"Congratulations! The surgery is over!" were the first words I heard while coming out of anesthesia.  In my head, I said "GOD...THANK YOU. Thank you."  I couldn't quite speak yet.  Well, that's a lie.  Because the first words I said were "PAAAAAIIIINNN.  PAIIINNN." And to this day I don't really know if I was actually in that much pain.  I mean, yes, I had just been cut.  And yes, I probably should have been in pain.  But could I actually feel it, and I mean really feel it at that time?  I'm not so sure.  But I guess it was just my automatic reaction to coming out of anesthesia knowing that I'd just had major surgery.

"What?  You're in pain?" the nurse said.  "Here."  She handed me a button attached to a wire connected to a box on an IV stand.  Those of you who have stayed in the hospital before know what this is.  For those of you fortunate enough to never have experienced this, that button is what connected me to my pain medicine:  hydromorphone aka dihydromorphinone aka dilaudid aka morphine aka...all hell, let's just call it what we know it is...CRACK! OK!  Let's just be real.  It's hospital grade crack in an IV.   So of course, I press the button, and I'm out. Unconscious. 

"Here! Want some water?" The nurse holds the straw from a styrofoam cup filled with ice water in it up to my mouth.  I suck down the water as if I had never had ice water before.  Then I hit the button.

"Here! Want some water?" The nurse holds the straw from a styrofoam cup filled with ice water in it up to my mouth.  I suck down the water as if I had never had ice water before.  Then I hit the button.

"Here! Want some water?" The nurse holds the straw from a styrofoam cup filled with ice water in it up to my mouth.  I suck down the water as if I had never had ice water before.  Then I hit the button.

No, that's not a copy paste error.  The previous three paragraphs are meant to be an exact representation of what coming out of deep anesthesia connected to an IV of hospital heroin is like after surgery.  It was literally "Crack Button," pass out, wake up, water, "Crack Button."  I did this for, according to my family, 3-4 hours following the completion of the transplant.  

At some point in there, Ben and my mom came to visit me.  I only sort of remember this part, mostly because my eyes would only stay open for seconds at a time because the Hospital Heroin pulsing through my veins would force my eyes shut.  

During my time in recovery, I was allowed to see my dad for a few minutes.  The nurses wheeled his bed over to mine. I don't remember our conversation fully. But I recall saying "We did it, Dad."  And I remember him saying "Yeah, we did."  

* * *

Once I arrived in my private room at the hospital (from what I've heard this is a pretty big deal, to have you're own room) I was greeted by my fiance, sisters, aunts, my uncle and my grandma.  I think I was happy to see everyone, even if I could barely open my eyes and had to squint because my glasses were taken before I went into surgery.

And for some reason I just couldn't keep my hand off the "hospital crack" button.  I just kept pressing it, falling into some sort of half sleep, then waking up to pump my fist and say "We did it!" according to my sister Jocelyn, who derived some pleasure from taking videos of me in a morphine-induced coma with her iPhone.  

Even in this trippy state, where I just barely was able to absorb what transpired in the previous hours, I was celebrating, sort of.  I think I was mostly proud of the fact that I let the doctors put me to sleep for several hours and perform organ transplantation on my dad and I.  Like...what?! That just sounds crazy doesn't it?  I feel like it does.  Who gets organ transplants?! Well, apparently I do.  And my dad...apparently he's a super hero because he's one of those people who donates his organs to save another person's life.  

In the moments when I was able to comprehend things being said to me I gathered that the transplant was a success; that my dad's kidney was a perfect match with my blood and tissue type; that once they received my dad's kidney and hooked it up to my arteries and veins and stuff, it started producing urine immediately, taking over for the two kidneys in my body that were barely doing anything; that I am lucky to be ALIVE because the surgeon almost cancelled the surgery when they discovered that I had NO blood in my body!!  Yeah. That right there...that's God.  Because I would have been A) pissed if they had decided to cancel the surgery after putting me under and putting me through all this stress; and B) dead if God hadn't intervened and said "Um, no, Jewel's gonna make it through the surgery, with 1 pint of blood, because I said so."  I'm so thankful that I survived (can't believe I had no blood!) and I'm happy that the kidney worked immediately.  

For my first examination by the doctors, early in the morning on the day after the surgery, I learned that my creatinine level was 1.1.   Creatinine is basically chemical waste that your kidneys filter out of your blood, and nearly all of it is supposed to leave your body when you pee. If you're kidneys aren't working right, you don't pee out this waste. It floats around in your blood and makes you SICK.  When I my kidneys started failing, my blood had a ton of creatinine in it.  So to hear that my dad's kidney was actually making me better was pretty great.  And then I fell asleep.  It was the drugs, I tell ya! The drugs made me do it.  

But really, I was happy.    At that moment, hearing that my kidney function was normal, I was happy, and every day since then I've been pretty happy.  And grateful.  And very aware that this thing, my dad's kidney, buried inside of me, is what's keeping me going every single day.