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Archive for April, 2009

Another new kidney in the family

April 30, 2009 4 comments

It’s been an eventful, strange week,  but last night was the highlight of it all; my sister finally got a kidney!

She went in to the OR at 7pm last night, and it was a 7 hour surgery.  The donor was a 31 year old male, but I don’t much else about him.

There apparently was a complication-she had some unexpected bleeding, but she couldn’t remember what the doctor said about it. It’s probably due to her taking Aspirin every day to keep her dialysis graft from clotting off.

I spoke to her several times today, and she’s having a sore throat, from both having a pill get stuck this morning, and the tube being in for the surgery.  The new kidney is working, but she didn’t know any of her labs yet. She is on a “pain pump” (Patient Controlled Analgesia), and also was getting an Albumin infusion, since her serum protein level was low.

Unfortunately, I can’t visit her, because I’ve had bronchitis for the past few days.  No fever, so I’m not that worried, but I wouldn’t dare go near her until I’m infection-free.

Ironically, she got her kidney almost 1 year to the day from mine; my 1 year kidney-versary is Sunday.

On the downside this week, we’re having our bathroom remodeled, so the house is a mess (dust from the new tile and from them taking out the old tile). But it got messier last night, because there was a blockage in our sewer pipe, and we had raw sewage back up into our basement bathroom .  So Jackie and I spent last night ripping out the carpeting in the bathroom (it’s a small room), as well as trying to get it cleaned up.  We pretty much got it all cleaned up tonight; just a few more odds and ends to go. Don’t worry; I wore gloves, and did lots of handwashing and used hand sanitizer as well.

Jackie’s mom was admitted to the hospital today. She fell at work last week and had a small cut on her leg. She went to the doctor on Tuesday, and was put on Augmentin for cellulitis. Today, it wasn’t clearing, and since she is diabetic, the doc admitted her for IV antibiotics (Unasyn).

In the midst of all of this, Jackie is getting ready to go away for the weekend. She and some coworkers are going to Harrisburg for a training all weekend.  She was freaking out a bit, because of everything that was going on, but she’s calming down now.

My goal for this blog is to use a new template, and to change the header bar. The one I’m currently using is just something I was experimenting with using GIMP. I’m no graphic artist; not by a long shot, but I’d like to do something somewhat creative.

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Another false alarm, branching out

April 26, 2009 Leave a comment

My sister got another call for a kidney on Friday. She was third in line for it, but she never heard back from the Transplant Coordinator.  Obviously, someone else got it, but the least the TC could have done was to let her know that. She is getting close, so hopefully the next call will be it. It would be awesome if she could get one  next Sunday, which is the 1st anniversary of my transplant.

Right now, I’m taking a break at work.  I started doing some extra shifts on the inpatient side at the Children’s Hospital.  I’ve decided that I’m a workaholic, and have to stay busy.  I’m learning a lot, a lot is coming back to me, and it’s insurance in case my outpatient job gets cut (no plans on that, but one never knows).  The pay is also quite a bit more than I was making at my agency job, so I work less hours and earn more; not a bad deal.

Jackie is just about done with the Spring semester, and has an A average in both classes.  She remarked that it’s so strange not to have any homework this weekend.

This week, we’re getting our bathroom remodeled. It started with 2 tiles in the shower that came loose, and we got such an awesome price on the whole bathroom, that we’re taking it.

I had my repeat labs last week, and they are stable (not sure if I posted that already).

I also took the Facebook plunge as well, and made contact with several from college that I haven’t seen since the mid-80’s. 

Gotta go now. Soon time for the end-of-the-shift work.

Categories: April 2009

Weekly labs 4/21/09

April 21, 2009 2 comments

Last week, my ICF (Immune Cell Function) test came back low, meaning over suppression of my immune system, so they cut my CellCept dose.

I just had my weekly labs done today, and my creatinine is stable at 1.2, my hemoglobin went from 11.8 t0 11.9, and my glucose was normal at 98. My Prograf level went from 5.9 to 8.1; not sure why that happened, but I don’t think they’ll mess with that dose just yet, as they want it between 6-8. 

I can’t remember if I already posted this, but my fistula is getting bigger. I have to be careful with using my left arm, as it gets a little sore if I lift too much. I suspect it will have to be tied off at some point in the near future, but once I get 2 more weeks of labs done, my labs will go to every 3 months, so I can handle a handful of blood draws without the fistula. 

My 1st anniversary with my new kidney is rapidly approaching (May 3).

Immune function update

April 15, 2009 1 comment

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Immune Cell Function test was low 2 months ago, with low equating a higher level of immunosuppression, and I just had another done this week.

I emailed my doctor, and today, his nurse told me that it was lower than the last time (it’s 71, and IIRC, they want it around 2o0), so they cut my CellCept dose in half to 250 mg every 12 hours.

A lower dose means less chance for problems. Too much immunosuppression (low ICF) can lead to nasty fungal infections that could be fatal, viruses that can cause failure of or damage to the transplant, as well as an increased risk of cancer.  CellCept also has a potentially nasty adverse reaction called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, so a decreased dose is fine with me.

I’ll be getting “regular labs” (which includes a CBC, BMP, and Prograf level) weekly for the next 3 weeks, and another Immune Cell Function test  the 3rd week.  My Prograf level is fine at 5.9 (they want it 6-8).

I was also retested with my “high risk labs”, and my Hepatitis B and C are negative, as well as my HIV (remember the HIV scare?).

So everything is going well; now if I could shed about 10-15 lbs, I’ll be doing even better!

Transplant Week 50

April 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m about 50 weeks out from transplant now, and it’s hard to believe, but I actually feel better and younger now than I did 10 years ago!

I had my appointment today with the Transplant Surgeon, and he was very pleased. You may remember back to shortly after my transplant, and I posted that my new kidney was a 3 out of 6 antigen match. However, today they told me it’s a 1 out of 6 match (or a 5 mismatch). Dr. Varma told me that it’s inconsequential, because the immunosuppression is so effective, the only thing that really matters is the blood type. Dr. Varma remembered that my kidney was from a 16 year old, and once again said that I got a great kidney.

My kidney labs are rock stable; my creatinine is 1.2 and BUN 25.  My hemoglobin dropped a bit. It’s down to 11.8; not sure what’s going on there, but I’m not too worried.  My weight is stable as well; I lost 2 lbs since my last appointment 2 months ago. Not a great loss, but better than a gain.

My last Immune Cell Function was low, meaning that I may be over immunosuppressed. Depending on how today’s is, he may cut my CellCept dosage down to 250 mg every 12 hours (it’s currently 500 mg every 12 hours). My Prograf level isn’t back yet either; my current dose on that is 3 mg in am, 2 mg in pm.  My BP was 132/72, and they are pleased with that as well (and that’s without ANY anti-hypertensive meds!).

I continue to walk several days a week. In fact, I’m now consciously trying to park further, rather than closer, so that I get as much walking in as possible.

Jackie and Kevin tell me my fistula is getting larger. I’m afraid that I may have to have it tied off soon, and the vein removed. I’m hesitant to do so, because I don’t really want to mess with it unless it’s giving me problems.  But I will call the surgeon if it does start causing pain or circulation problems.

I’m enjoying my weekends off. I did fill in at my old weekend job last Sunday, and they sent me calendars to fill in for available shifts for May, but I doubt I’ll be working for the nursing agency much in the future.

The Pediatric Rheumatologist I work with has a patient that he had on his service in the hospital who was diagnosed last fall with an extremely rare disease called Pansclerotic Morphea. She’s not even adolescent-aged, and is dealing with a disease that is potentially fatal.  She’s going to another medical center for a procedure that will hopefully at least arrest the disease.  But since there are so few cases, everything that is done is guess work.  Another reminder of perspective; my medical issues are miniscule in relation to this….

I have so many books to read, and I’m trying to go through them now.  I’ve been reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, but the type is so small, I don’t think I could get through the almost 1100 pages.  So I got the audiobook, and am listening to it on my MP3 player in my spare time.

With spring comes a lot of rabbits. I think of them as a nuisance, especially when they dig up the yard, or burrow under our fence. Our GoldenDoodle, Digger, thinks of them as toys. So far, he’s gotten three of them within the past 2 months. He’s very proud of his catches, and when we go out to try to get them off of him, he thinks we’re playing, and proudly and playfully runs around the yard with the dead rabbit hanging out of his mouth.  The only good thing is that unlike our first dog, a cocker spaniel, Digger isn’t interested in eating them.

My sister hasn’t had any more episodes of life-threatening potassium levels. She came close to getting a kidney, but the surgeons refused it. They did say to me today that she is close, as her name is now coming first on the list when an available kidney is her blood type.

I was in the Emergency Department last Tuesday with Jackie. She had excruciating lower abdominal pain. Entering the ED in a wheelchair crying loudly and saying that you can’t stand the pain is one sure way of getting a room ahead of the other 20 patients waiting for one.  Once they gave her 10 mg of IV Morphine (a HUGE dose), her pain went from a 10+ to a 4.  A dose of Dilaudid an hour later did the trick to totally relieve the pain. A CT scan showed a 1mm kidney stone in the ureter, and she passed it last Thursday, but not after a fair amount of vomiting, constant sleeping, and intermittent severe pain. She’s fine now, but hopes she NEVER has to go through that again; she says it was worse than labor.