Monday, March 31, 2014

Throwback Post-- Remember When I Had That Tube?

Top of the Monday to you.  

I am feeling nostalgic.  Y''s basically April.  You know what that means.  I've basically had my dad's kidney for a year.  I can't believe I haven't touched on all the things that happened last year in more "throwback posts."  It's actually really fun to go back 12 months from a certain point and read about what my life was life and especially what my mindset was like.  I guess that's a really cool thing about having a blog.  The internet never forgets.  [Side note: I feel like that's an awesome tagline for a movie about things that we posted on the internet in our past coming out of our computers to terrorize us.]

Fun Blog Fact: this time last year I was going under for an outpatient procedure to have my PD Catheter placed.  PD catheters allow you to participate in home dialysis, which is what I getting ready to do until--MIRACLE!-- God totally came through for me with a new kidney.  Before I let you read about it one more time, because memories are the best, here are three things you may not know about the surgery and/or my PD catheter:

1.  I was INSANELYE nervous about this surgery.  It was definitely depressing to think about having to start dialysis.  I get this feeling that some people view dialysis as an OK thing.  I don't know, I just get that feeling.  I could be wrong.  But I just feel like people think dialysis is a great alternative to kidney transplant.  Like, "Oh just do dialysis, right? That works, right?"  It's not an awesome alternative to having a transplant. It's time consuming and inconvenient and not the greatest way to live life.  But I digress...I was really nervous about my surgery because I hate going under. Yep! I was so freaked out by the anesthesia.  I was convinced that something would happen to me while I was under.  Most notably, I thought that I would wake up in the middle of the surgery and feel the knife cutting into my skin and I would not be able to move around or scream.  Yep....I know.  You don't have to tell me that I have issues.  Pray for me.

2.  Cats and stomach surgery don't go together, surprisingly.  While I was recovering at home, my cat, Burton, figured my healing would be the best possible time to use my newly sliced open stomach as a springboard for his daily acrobatics.  Cats really are evil  creatures.  Please pray for his salvation.

3.  The scar that I had from surgery is hardly visible now.  It's so funny but sometimes I forget I ever had that surgery.  The two scars I have from the surgery are finally starting to blend in with my natural skin color. I have no more pain in that area.  I have to remind myself sometimes that the whole tube era...actually happened to me! I was that girl with a plastic tube coming out of my stomach!  

Look how far we've come! Weeee! 

Anyways enjoy 10 Things, One Tube, again ....or for the first time if you're new here.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The One Time I Wished I Hadn't Received a Kidney Transplant

I really dislike going to the dentist.  I like the feeling of having clean smooth teeth and gums that feel like literally all the gunk in between the cracks have been scraped out.  And I guess I am OK with knowing whether or not any of my teeth roots or dead, or whether I have a cavity the size of a crater.  I've heard that those things can lead to brain infections if not treated.  But I just don't like going to the dentist. I can't stand getting my teeth and gums scraped with what feels like the worlds teeniest scalpel.

Now it seems like going to the dentist is more important than ever, according to my doctors.  With my immunosuppressant's and my dad's precious kidney, I have to do whatever it takes to stay healthy...and I guess that means not walking around with bleeding gums and unfilled cavities.  So Ben and I made our dental appointments, our first ones two years, for February.  

The new rule is that before I have dental work done, I have to call my nurses/doctors and let them know, just in case I need to take an antibiotic or something before hand.  A simple visit to the dentist for a cleaning can turn into organ rejection real quick if an infection happens.  That'll leave a person who hates the dentist thinking, "Man....I knew I should have just let my teeth rot."  Or maybe that's just me.  

Prior to the cleaning, my dental hygienist and I had a little conversation about my medical history.   Actually, I can never have little conversations about my medical history.  They usually turn into something like:

Nurse:  I'm just gonna take your medical history.
Me:  OK

Nurse:  Any aches and pains now?

Me:  No.

Nurse:  Any history of heart disease?

Me:  No.

Nurse: Any major surgeries?

Me:  Um...kidney transplant.

Nurse:  Oh really?????

Me:  Yeah.  I'm special.  
The fun part is when they ask me if I'm taking any medications. 

I told the nurse that I had taken a Bactrim earlier in the day, but that was it.  That's the only antibacterial I am taking and I figured that since my team of medical people never called me back, that I'd be good to go for the mouth torture cleaning.
Fast-forward to that evening. I started to get ready for bed, but I had one last thing to do.  I had to take my medicine. Because I can't function early in the mornings, I've been taking my medicines around 10-11 AM, and at the same time at night.  So usually, I have to remember to grab my preorganized pill box in the morning before work. 

I went to my purse to grab my pill box.  I pulled it out of my purse and before I had a chance to empty out what should be the last dose of the day, I stopped.  And I realized, there were two doses in the box.  There was a dose in the morning divider, and a dose in the evening divider.  

I felt like my bare feet were glued to the carpet, because I couldn't move into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water until I made sense of what I'd seen.  There were two doses in the container--one does in the morning divider, and a dose in the evening divider.  Two doses, not one.  At the end of the day, there should only be one.  Why? Because I have to take one dose in the morning.  I knew this. I repeated this in my head.   There shouldn't be two doses.  There should be just be one.  There should just be one.  

There should have just been one.  But there were two.  It was right there in front of my face.  I was staring at the clear plastic container, and 20 pills were staring back at me.  I should have been greeted by just ten.  But instead, 20 pills were there in "Monday's box" to remind me of how might have just majorly screwed up my life, my family's life, and disappointed a ton people.

My fingers clasped around the box as I finally unstuck myself and walked to the kitchen to grab that water I talked about getting.  My heart was beating so fast that my hands shook as I filled up my glass under the sink.  I could feel a nervous heat building on my neck.  I was so overwhelmed with the thought of "what happens next" that my vision became cloudy and even the taste of water nauseated me.  

What happens next, I thought.  Does the fever start? Do I start vomiting again?  Do I go to the doctor and get my blood drawn? And what do I do when the results come back all screwed up, showing high levels of everything that I don't want in my body? How do I answer them when they ask me what went wrong?  How do I tell husband, my family and friends that my kidney had failed again?   

How do I tell them that, actually, I had failed?  I'd have to tell them that I didn't heed the doctor's advice. I'd have to tell them that I'm irresponsible. That I'm careless.  That I took it for granted.  That in not taking my medicine, in missing that dose, I showed that I was an ungrateful daughter that neglected to take care of the one great gift that was given to her from the most selfless father in the world.  

Even worse, I'd have to admit to God that I wasted His blessing--that I suck.  

I started out of the kitchen towards the bedroom, ready to come clean to Ben. Ready to commence our panicking together.   I started to tell him:  "Ben.  I missed a dose.  I didn't take my medicine this morning. I could have sworn that I took my medicine this morning!  But I didn't! I missed a dose."  I could feel my blood pressure rising as the flood of worst-case-scenarios leapt off my tongue and into mid-air.  Ben let me vent but ultimately he remained calm and simply said: "OK, well just take the next one."  Really? I thought.  As if that is going to be enough. 

I took my medicine and while in bed that night, my eyes bore holes into the ceiling. I couldn't sleep, so I prayed for peace.  I knew that I had no way of knowing whatever would happen next.  But I prayed that in whatever happens next, that God would let it all work out in the end.  I prayed, yet again, for what seemed like the millionth time, that God for just keep me healthy, keep me healed.  I prayed that even in my failure, He would give me a pass, just one more time.  For once, I remembered a scripture in that moment:  

Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.
Philippians 4-6 GNT

And that was it. I simply went to sleep because after all the commotion of the night and anxiety over kidney failure, I realized that I didn't really have the time or the energy to stress about my kidney anymore. I had to just let it all go. I just had to.  Because frankly, I was exhausted.  I had actually worried myself to the point of exhaustion.

What did happen next?  I woke up the next day, went to work, and took my morning dose of medicine at my desk.  And I continued with my day.  I took my evening dose.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  That was over a month ago.



Monday, March 24, 2014

That One Time I Missed Most of March Because of White Blood Cells

Oh Haaaaaaaay.  How has your March been?  Pleasant?  A bit cold? A bit boring?  Have you been sick for the past two weeks?  Have you been thinking, 'Oh maybe I just won't get better until April and will have an excuse to take the rest of the month of March off'?  No?  Really?! How bout that.

Well, I'm back to the world people.  I'm finally remembering what it's like to not lay in bed 24 hours a day.  I enjoy the taste of food again.  I enjoy fresh air and sitting in a clean apartment, sleeping on clean sheets, not worrying about how many additional viruses are burrowing their way into the mattress while I breathed hot, infected air into my pillow.  I am alive. I am not a zombie. I am real and I am on my way to healing.

If you came to this blog in the past two weeks, you probably saw nothing.  Nothing good anyways.  It's true.  I've been sick for two weeks.  And let me tell you:  I ain't felt death that near since this time last year when I was gearing up to start dialysis treatments.  And I wanted it. I wanted it so bad. I wanted to go home and be with Jesus.  Dance with the angels and break thermometers because I knew I would never need them again.  That's how sick I felt.  

Why and how in the world did I end up like this?  Well, you can thank my kidney transplant for that. I'm sort of joking but sort of not because it is kind of sort of relevant to how all of this happened.  

Remember when I told you that now, with my kidney transplant, I was going to have to take medicine for the rest of my life?  Those medicines are called immunosuppresants.  In case you missed biology (don't worry; pretty sure I slept through 80 percent of it) your immune system is what keeps you healthy.  It's [hopefully] made up of a bunch of white blood cells who's purpose in life is attack foreign objects and bacteria that make their way into your body.  Usually those foreign bacteria (stuff not made by you), can make you really sick if they're not dealt with correctly.  So most normal people have a good army of white blood cells who fight off these things and keep you from having to take any sick days, in case you were wondering why you never get a cough every once in a while.  I'm sorry, but this is probably it.

White blood cells are good for stuff like head colds and the flu.  But bad for stuff like organ transplants.  Because even though my kidney transplant is good for me and keeps me alive, it's still foreign.  So according to my WBCs, it needs to go.  And this is why, I take immunosuppressants:  to keep my WBCs from building up their army, so that they can't call out my kidney for being a foreign object.   The results:  my dad's kidney gets to live in my body as a spy forever, working alongside my natural organs....but I also am more at risk for contracting things like CMV

Cytomegalovirus.  In a nutshell, you probably have it because apparently 90 percent of the population gets it at one point in their life.  It just doesn't make everyone want to die because most people are healthy.  

For the rest of us--the 10 percent who randomly never got the virus and the immunosuppressed--when we are infected by this nearly harmless can make us feel like solid S&#T until we get treated for it.  

So, now I present to you:  five things I wouldn't wish upon anyone:

1.  Diarrhea.  

2.  Pain in your eyeballs so bad that you start to wonder if you have a brain tumor and regret that time when you didn't wash your hands for exactly 20 seconds before putting a new pair of contact lenses on.

3.  This weird thing in the upper middle part of your abdomen that makes you cry when you walk and also makes you think you have an ulcer and/or cancer according to WebMD.

4.  Sleeping for 24 hours.  Unless you're into that sort of thing, which I am only SORT OF into that type of thing. I love sleeping, but I don't love worrying about getting a blood clot that's going to travel to my heart and I won't know about until I'm on the plane to Greece.

5.  Cats who clearly don't understand "Noooo I DON'T want to get up!" when you're lying in your bed face down for the 15th hour in a row.  They seem to think: maybe I'll just meow LOUDER and then the human will move.  It doesn't work like that, cat.

I am finally starting to feel better people.  I'm eating again.  I went to the gym. I'm staying up late again.  Ben and I hugged for the first time a few days ago.  Things are looking up.   



Monday, March 17, 2014

UPDATE update

This is what's been going on in my life since we last talked.

I'm confident that I'll be back to 110 percent health before the month ends.

Or before ACTUAL spring weather arrives.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.