Six Weeks And Counting
It’s been six weeks (today) since I had my transplant. It’s hard to believe because the time has been flying by. Some wonderful things have happened to me in the past six weeks, one of the best ones, and I can’t say it enough, is no dialysis. To be free from that is something that is hard to put into words. I still wake up on certain days, as if I still had to be there at 6:30am but then I remember that I don’t and I am able to actually go back to sleep. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss some parts of dialysis…like the people. You don’t see and communicate with people for 5+ years and not become attached to them, especially when you have something so serious and personal in common with them. I have gone back for one visit since the transplant. Unfortunately it wasn’t on one of my dialysis days. I “dropped” in to see and thank the staff members who took excellent care of me.
As I said, this past six weeks has been filled with so many things. One of them has been a lot of activity. For the first six weeks after the transplant, I am required to go to Ann Arbor once a week (on Tuesdays) to see my doctor in the Transplant Clinic. I also get blood work done there. I have been fortunate enough to get early morning appointments so that Doug can go with me and still be back in Lansing in time to go to work. In addition, I have to visit a lab here in town every Thursday to get blood work done and those results are sent directly to the University of Michigan Hospital.
Another six weeks issue that I am dealing with is one that I’ve been told is common for some transplant patients. I’ve been having a build up of fluid around the new kidney. The area gets very swollen and has gotten to the point where it has actually drained itself, with no warning…kind of like when a pregnant woman’s water breaks. Unfortunately the fluid returned and I had a procedure done where a doctor aspirated it with a needle. After that procedure, the fluid returned but drained itself again. A surgeon looked at it last week and has decided that in case the fluid returns again, he has put me on the schedule for outpatient surgery. I don’t want to have the surgery but I’ve been told that it could take care of the fluid problem once and for all.
I consider one of my biggest six weeks milestones, the change in my anti-rejection and other medications. Some medications were changed, some of the dosages were increased and some were reduced. I am tolerating them better but there’s one that is a battle for me every day. Prednisone. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with this drug but it is a powerful, life-changing drug and although it is a necessary drug for many health conditions, it has some side effects that, like the new kidney, have changed my life. One example is that before the kidney transplant, I was taking oral medication for diabetes, after starting Prednisone; I had to start taking insulin shots. Something that my doctor says I may be taking for the rest of my life. Prednisone also affects your mood, can cause acne and don’t even get me started on what it can do to your appetite – one night at about 11:30pm, I went into the kitchen and made some fried green tomatoes. That is an unusual thing for me to do. And I’m ashamed to say that for about a week, I got to know Ben & Jerry better than I should have.
Six weeks seem like a very short time but in many ways, for me, the days were packed. I spent more time with family and friends than I’ve been able to do in years. I’ve often said that my transplant happened at the right time and I still believe that because what would have been a better time than my son Justin being home for summer vacation. After the transplant I was told that I couldn’t drive for six weeks, so while Doug was working, Justin was my chauffeur. I couldn’t have asked for a better driver and lunch companion.
In these six weeks Justin (and Doug) have been able to see me with more energy than I’ve had in a long time – up close and personal. Justin has been able to see me laugh more, be more silly than he remembers, sing ( like I use to) and see me as I recover from my surgery. He’s back at school now and I think that since he knows I’m doing well, he can concentrate on his classes and his life in Ann Arbor.
I don’t know what the next six weeks will bring. I do know that at this point, my visits to Ann Arbor will change from once a week to once every two weeks, which is GREAT because gas prices are no joke. I believe that surgery or no surgery, the fluid build up will be a non-issue and if there are other “bumps in the road,” I will deal with them as they come – if they come. This recovery period isn’t an easy process, but it’s so much easier than what I was living before.