Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bib-bopsy

The day after Ben and I returned from our mini-moon in Sedona, I decided to revisit “Torture Tuesdays” and book my 90-day transplant biopsy at the hospital.  It wasn’t exactly 90 days after I received my new kidney, but close enough.  96 days.  Since we had to wake up pretty early to leave for our flight from Phoenix, it would have been nice to sleep in a bit.  But I remembered that I’d made this dumb decision to schedule an outpatient procedure.  The day of the appointment hadn’t even arrived and I was already kicking myself.  Ben was kicking me too because not only was my appointment scheduled for 9:30, but he was going to have to drive me there.  The pre-op rules and regs suggested I have a ride back home for safety reasons.  What kind of narcotics were they going to pump into my veins this time, I wondered.  Hopefully, Valium.  I love Valium.

I arrived at the hospital, checked in.  This was going to be my first appointment with my new name (Edwards-Ashman).  Sorry, probably didn’t need to include that part, but I’m a newlywed. Can you blame me? I get giddy about everything that has to do with marriage right now.  But I digress.  I checked in and waited.  And waited, and waited.  You see my nephrologist at the hospital is brilliant. Which means that sometimes…he’s on his own schedule.  Hey, I can’t be mad at him. 

My appointment was set to begin at 9:30.  I arrived at 9:10. I was seen at 10:30.  I watched a lot of HGTV, which I don’t mind right now because I’m finally taking steps to actually decorate my apartment.  What I learned: sconces are everything. 

I was called to the back, the back being the ultra-sound lab.  If you’re a dedicated reader of this blog, you’d know that this is my home away from home.  Oh, ultra-sound lab. I missed you.  “Hi, Dr. M*” I said. “Oh! Ohmygosh!”  He was checking his email on his phone, so it turns out I startled him. I scared the doctor. I sat on the ultra-sound table, waiting for things to begin. But first, it was storytime.  Dr. M regaled me with a tale, a news-tale, about school teacher who was caught giving steroids to teenage athletes, members of the wrestling team, football team, everything.  He was shocked.  I told him that in school, they made us watch videos about taking steroids.

The ultra-sound tech arrived and it was time to begin.  I lifted up my shirt, they covered me with paper, slathered my abdomen with warm (HALLELUJAH) ultra-sound gel and turned the machine on.  “There we go!” the doctor said.   I tilted my head to see what he and the tech saw. I wanted to see my dad’s kidney, to see what it was doing, and how it was behaving.  I looked at the screen.  Seriously, all I saw were black and white shapes dancing around on the screen like the colors in Fantasia.  I put my head back down.  Dr. M resumed his story about the steroids and the kids and the teacher.  “You know that reminds me of this show I’ve been watching about a chemistry teacher who cooks meth,” I said.  “Ohhhhh yeaaah!” the ultra sound tech chimed in. “That’s GOOD SHOW! Do you watch it?” he asked the doctor.  Dr. M said no and with curiosity asked us what it was about.  Before I could begin my explanation, he cautioned me that I was going to feel a little pinch with some burning.  And that’s when the screaming began. 

You see, I’m Ok with getting my blood drawn but not with shots.  Especially shots containing lidocaine.  That s*%t really does burn. “I want my mommy,” I muttered.  Just a few seconds after the doctor emptied the syringe into my abdomen, he pulled out a scalpel, waved it over my kidney while glancing at the ultra sound monitor. It was then that I assumed he was going to cut into my abdomen before I was completely numb.  And that’s when I, no joke, went bats%&* crazy.  I halfway sat up on the table, flapping my wrists back and forth, screaming “NO! NO!! WAIT!!! IT’S NOT NUMB YET! I’M NOT NUMB!”  The doctor laughed.  The tech laughed. I looked over at the tech to say, “WAIT! WAIT!! HE’S GONNA OPERATE ON ME WITHOUT ANESTHESIA!!”  At this point, all I could imagine was how the razor edge of the scalpel would feel like gliding across my skin, and I could only hope that it was so painful that I’d go into shock.

“It’s OK, it’s OK! Nothing’s going to happen? What’s wrong? Am I going to have to sedate you?” the doctor joked.

“Yes! Please! I want sedation! Please,” I begged.  The doctor laughed and raised the scalpel.  

“Look.” He pricked my stomach with the scalpel and made a tiny hole on top of where my dad’s kidney sat.  “See! That’s it.”  

I started to calm down, and return to my original position on the ultra-sound the table.  Through the hole on top of my skin, the doctor inserted another syringe with more anesthesia and deposited the liquid below the layers of tough skin and muscle.  Next, he pulled out another larger needle.  About the size of my forearm, I’d say.  Maybe a tad smaller.  This is how a biopsy is done:  a large needle is inserted into the organ.  After a few clicks, it snags a sample of the tissue, which the doctors test to make sure nothing is wrong with it.  The needle sunk into my abdomen. I could feel pressure mostly. It was like a thin tree branch was just hanging out in my kidney.  It was only there for a minute, then click click click, and the doctor slowly pulled the needle out.  He placed the tissue sample on a piece of glass and held it up for me to see. 

“Here.  See, it’s your kidney,” he said.  My kidney was all bloody and not much bigger than a strand of hair.  That’s the sample size.  Because they wanted to stop the bleeding in the organ immediately, the doctor put a lot of pressure on my kidney after the procedure.  It was then that I resumed my story about the chemistry teacher cooking meth.  This began with me asking my doctor how to cook meth.  We also talked about types of drugs that have methamphetamine in them. Then he and the tech took a long duct tape like bandage and wrapped it around my abdomen and the kidney, pulling it tight so that I couldn’t breathe.  I felt like The Mummy.  I had to wait for an hour after the procedure to make sure I didn’t have a fever, and to allow my blood pressure to stabilize.  

While I waited on the hospital bed amid all the beeps and boops of vital measuring machines nearby, I thought about what I hope, wish, and want to happen with this biopsy.  I want it to come out normal. I want to have normal kidney function.  I want to continue feeling great every day.  Really the only problems I've had since the transplant is that I can't get myself to go to bed early, so I'm always sleepy in the morning.  BUT, I've survived for 4 months without coffee.  That's saying something.  

I hope there's no more FSGS, or no resurgence of any.  That's why I had to have a kidney transplant in the first place.

I hope to get some news that I'm at least doing something right.  I'm making an effort to take my medicine every day.  I cook all my meals, not just because it's cheaper, but also because it's healthier.  I'm drinking A LOT all the time.  I hope and pray that my efforts to protect my dad's investment into my life are enough.  I'm hoping for no more bad news.

I shuffled out of the ultra-sound after an hour of waiting.  Ben was meeting me at the hospital for lunch.  Three months ago, a 90-day biopsy seemed so far away.  Making this far means that I've made it through the first three months without a rejection episode, which is pretty swell.  Here's hoping I get another three months, three years, and, if I'm lucky, three decades with this kidney.  Here's hoping.

           "Don't lose hope. Understand? With hope you can always go on." -- Pope Francis