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Transplant Story

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday at work, I met a nurse who was giving us an in-service on various procedures we are required to do (glucose meter, urine pregnancy testing, code cart, etc).

She approached me about a project I was working on prior to my transplant, and as we got to talking, I mentioned that I had a kidney transplant last May.

She told me that her family was “an organ donation family”, and further elaborated that her son Jacob had died recently (within the past 2 years IIRC), and the family donated his organs.

I knew the “story” behind this from before, but had forgotten the details.

Jacob died in an ATV accident, and was a patient in our clinic (his doctor, Dr. T, was a member of his church). A week or two after his funeral, his mother was talking to someone at work who told her that Donald, one of the resident physicians here who had been waiting for a heart, had received his transplant. He apparently contracted a viral infection that caused major damage to the muscle of the heart, and he spent a good deal of time in a Philadelphia hospital bed waiting for a transplant.

Donald was a member of Jacob’s church, so the family knew him. Jacob’s mom said “wouldn’t it be something if Donald received Jacob’s heart”. Well, it turns out that he DID receive Jacob’s heart.

But the story doesn’t end there. It turns out that Jacob had actually had a “sick” visit at the clinic a year or so before, and Donald was the doctor that treated him.

Next, the priest from their church was attending a church conference about 90 minutes away, and was doing confessions. He was hearing the confession of a woman, and as they were talking, she mentioned that she had recently received a kidney transplant. She mentioned the age of the donor and the circumstances of his death. The priest quickly figured out that the kidney was from his parishoner, Jacob!

There were several other “coincidences” as well, although Jacob’s mother considers them more than coincidence.

Donald’s friend, whom he was Best Man for at his wedding, is writing a book about all of this. I’ll post the link when it’s published.

*names changed to protect privacy

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Keeping Up With Fluids

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

With the virus I had a few weeks ago, I’m very aware of how important it is to keep hydrated. I got into the routine of drinking coffee as my first drink of the day, and “nursed” it for about 2 hours at work. By that time, I was behind on fluid intake, had taken my immunosuppressants, and had dark urine. Now, I drink a bottle of water on my way to work, and my urine is more dilute. I know manage to get in at least 2 liters a day, and even feel better.

Speaking of the intestinal virus I had at Christmas time,  we have been having a lot of office visits and calls from both adults, children, and infants with viral diarrhea. Whichever this virus is, it’s a particularly nasty one; abdominal pain, dehydration, etc.

I mentioned last week that the child I take care of through a nursing agency on weekends had come in to our clinic and was placed on a ventilator. He apparently had this same virus and developed a bowel obstruction. As it turns out, he apparently had bleeding ulcers in his stomach for some time, perforated an ulcer when he got the obstruction, developed peritonitis (an infection throughout the abdominal cavity that is usually fatal; it’s what my mother died from almost 30 years ago), and died the next day.  The other adopted child in the house who had similar neurologic disabilities was admitted to the PICU (Peds ICU) the morning that Brian died ALSO had the virus and developed a bowel obstruction, but her’s was caught early enough, and she’ll be coming home on Friday.

Brian was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and was given less than a year to live. One of the last times I worked with him was on his 15th birthday (proof that NOBODY can predict when someone will die; not even a doctor).  His adoptive mother thinks that there’s a possibility that murder charges will be brought against his father, since his death can be indirectly tied to his injury. I’m not sure that will happen though…

There are many in the healthcare profession that believe that things happen in threes, including Keagirl. Well, I’m a believer as well. This past summer, we had 3 patients (I work in a Pediatric Clinic that sees a lot of chronically ill patients) either former or current who died within a few short weeks. Most recently, we had 3 patients since New Year’s Eve day that died as well (the day that Brian died, there was also an infant that died that very afternoon). People expect to hear of adults dying, but not children. It does happen, sad as it may be.

We saw Gran Torino last weekend; fantastic movie. I read on an online forum that the person posting had been to see it in Lower Manhattan, and there were people walking out. Not surprising, as I’m sure it was offensive to city-dwellers who aren’t used to hearing/seeing people that are similar to Clint Eastwood’s character, much like blue collar workers such as Eastwood’s character are out of touch with city living. It’s a shame they didn’t stay; the movie evolved past the initial narrow-mindedness.

It’s pretty cold here, but then again, it’s January, and it’s Pennsylvania. Listening to the news (local AND national), you would think that the end is near. I broke out the down-filled jacket, wear my gloves, and despite having to leave the house, I’m still alive. Yes, it is possible to go outside when the temperature is below 10 degrees F. And no, I didn’t have a 2 hour delay for work today, even though the schools did (I still can’t figure out a 2 hour delay for cold temps; it isn’t much warmer at 10am than it is at 8am).  The only problem I have is trying to figure out if this is global warming or global cooling….

Back To Normal

January 8, 2009 7 comments

I’m now 8 months post-transplant, and despite a sick December, I’m doing great once again. Appetite back to normal, only sporadic kidney pain (in my “native” kidneys), and my labs are back to what they should be. I don’t have access to them now, but on my labs this past Tuesday, my creatinine is 1.3 (I usually run 1.2 to 1.3), hemoglobin 12.9, white blood cell count 5, CO2 normal at 23 (had been 17), and my Prograf level is 7.7 (they want it 6-8).

Current transplant meds/immunosuppressants: Prograf 3 mg in am, 2mg in pm, and CellCept 500 mg every 12 hours. I’m also back on Prilosec, and take a bunch of vitamins as well as a baby aspirin.

I’ve noticed more hand tremors lately. After talking to someone who works in our building and also had a kidney transplant for PKD (small world), she has tremors as well, and was told it’s from the Prograf, even with it being a normal level. Again, if that’s the worst I have to deal with it, I’ll take tremors over dialysis any day.

I also had an abdominal ultrasound on Tuesday, which was ordered right before Christmas when I was having the kidney pain and abdominal pain. I asked my doc if it was necessary, and he wanted it done, even though I’m feeling fine. The ultrasound showed some semblance of a kidney on the right, and nothing but cysts where my left kidney was. My gallbladder was fine (no stones), and I got to see my transplant on the screen.

This is the first I’ve gone more than a month between doctor visits with the transplant surgeon, but that’s ok; I’m stable enough to do that now.

In other news, the child I take care of on weekends was in the clinic today very briefly, and was leaving via ambulance within 20 minutes. He looked absolutely terrible, as he probably has a bowel obstruction. He’s on a ventilator now, but I haven’t had an update recently. I guess the docs are giving him a 50/50 chance of surviving, but based on when I saw him today, I would say those are very generous odds. I won’t go into too many details, but he is 15, has severe brain damage from “shaken baby syndrome”, but has been well cared for by his adopted family.

I’ve been doing a lot of computer work lately. Kevin sold my computer to a friend, so I had to redo the hard drive on that; I had to get set up Kevin’s computer to access the wireless router, and finally, I had to redo Kevin’s OLD computer for myself, since it had a virus. He lost his Windows disk, and I wasn’t about to spend any more money on it, so I installed OPENSuSE, a Linux operating system. I really like it, but there’s a rather steep learning curve to it. Advantages: it’s free, and so far, there are no viruses to attack it, as you must type in a password before making changes to the system.

I’m actually off this weekend, for the first weekend since late October/early November, and I’m looking forward to it. There is a gun show locally that I’ve always wanted to go to, but never took the time to go, so I plan on going there. I also plan on just relaxing, and possibly going to the movies to see Gran Torino. We saw Marley and Me a week ago, and both thought it was a great movie, except for one part that was sad.