Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chapel Hill by way of St. Simons Island

We were scheduled to have our first tests in Chapel Hill on Tuesday May 31st, this is one day after Kate’s birthday.  The hospital only does testing Tuesday through Thursday, I guess the transplant doctors don’t work on Monday or Friday I’m not really sure, but it makes it so anytime we go up there we have to take extra days off work on both sides.  We decided since we would have to take Monday off anyway we would do a trip over the weekend before the testing.  My brother Keith and his wife Stacy were planning on going to St. Simons Island Georgia for the weekend so we asked if we could piggyback and have a little vacation with them, and get a chance to see our niece Abby who we really don’t see enough. 
I really didn’t know what to expect from this location, I have a very low opinion of Georgia as a place to visit, to me it is just the place that smells bad on the way from Florida to New Jersey.  We rented a 3 bedroom condo of off VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) which is an excellent site if you haven’t used it.  St Simons is a really cute little area, and a beach town, and we thoroughly enjoyed it and have suggested take one or both of our families up there for a vacation some time, I definitely recommend it.  The highlight might have been Jekyll Island where there are literally hundreds of old trees on the beach, which make for some great pictures.
After the weekend of relaxing we headed north for Chapel Hill, I had booked a hotel through Priceline for 45 dollars a night(if you didn’t know already I am cheap, and I am willing to risk where I stay to save some money, and have had very good luck with Priceline) which was located in Durham, called the Millennium.  It was actually located really close to Duke, so we were staying on enemy turf.  It was a nice hotel the location wasn’t as convenient as we would have liked, and there was an extra charge for something, probably wouldn’t stay there again, but enough of the review and on to the testing.  This entry was actually written while I was at UNC, I had the idea to journal real time, but that only lasted one day, pretty much like every other time I tried to Journal.

Registration was a breeze and since I have never really been hospitalized or had much experience with being sick I was excited to have a hospital card.  When I think about that I feel guilty about that, but I guess it is the little things that keep you smiling and enjoying yourself.  Kate and I prayed before we went to this and I was grateful she came to the appointments.
The first test was for my Kidney function, they took my blood to test it, and then they injected a radioactive fluid into my blood.  The idea is to see how fast my kidneys remove the radioactive fluid from my blood.  This was the first time I have ever had an attached IV, I mean I have given blood before and am not scared of the stick, but to have it in my arm for 4 hours was kind of interesting.  After they injected the fluid we had 2 hours to kill so I went to Sams with my IV and we bought supplies for our mission trip.  Half the time I was wondering if blood would just start shooting out of my arm but everything was fine. 

During this whole time I was instructed to drink as much water as possible, and Kate made sure I was doing that.  I guess this is like cheating the system a little because it forces you to have to urinate to get rid of the radioactive fluid.  I really had no idea that things go through your blood so quickly.  I guess God had a pretty good system with your organs and the kidneys work pretty well.
After Sams we met Ashley in downtown Chapel Hill at Momma Dibs, which is an authentic famous Soul food Restaurant.  I ordered Chicken and Dumplings which was lovely, with two sides of corn since I don’t like soul food vegetables.  Also I ordered two glasses of water which the waiter thought was funny and visited the bathroom twice.

We barely made it back by 1:45 which was the cutoff time to get my blood drawn again.   Not to mention if we missed that time we would have had to do the test all over, and wouldn’t have been able to do it for another month, which isn’t a big deal if you don’t live 12 hours from the hospital.  Anyway the IV held up and they took my blood 3 times every half hour for the next hour.  Carol was really nice and did an excellent job; she did however seem to take a little too much enjoyment in pulling off the IV securing tape.  So far that has by far been the most painful part of this.  I really should have shaved my arm before I came since it pretty much looks like I did anyway (remind me to do this, this time).
Kate and Ashley picked me up after the test and we went to Wal-Mart to finish up the shopping for our mission trip snacks and goodies to give the team on the trip.  If you ever want a good laugh you should go with Kate and I when we do this preparation for the trip.   I want to buy the cheapest stuff, and Kate wants to buy nice stuff, so it pretty much guarantees an argument every time.  The funny thing to me is I think we are both so stubborn that I picture it looking the same way 30 years from now when we are preparing the nursing home mission trip to Pucallpa

It was really great to have Ashley along for the part of the experience with us; she has pretty much been through every procedure and knows half the hospital. 

Later that night we met up with Ashley’s family in Pittsboro NC, it was a quaint little town with a lot of character, we had dinner and an old diner with a soda fountain, and it was a really fun place.  They were really thankful and didn’t really have the words to explain it.  Her mother was in tears just trying to talk about it.  It was great to meet them and feel there appreciation, and the cheeseburger and Milkshake didn’t hurt the experience either.
Kate got a Pepsi Sunday since she is a huge Pepsi drinker.  For some reason I had to convince her to order it but they poor Pure Pepsi syrup over the ice cream and it was very good.  I told her that if she didn’t try it she could never have Pepsi again as long as she lives.  Ashley spent the rest of the evening with us at the hotel and we watched the Heat win game 1 of the finals.

That wraps up day 1 of Testing, everything seemed to be moving along smoothly at this point, we thought this whole thing was going to be easy, but that changed really quickly so we will see you tomorrow for day 2, the following days will have to be more from memory so that should be interesting. 

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