Sunday, February 26, 2012

What it's like to be a kidney donor!

This is why I started writing the blog, when I started researching donating a kidney I had a really hard time finding firsthand accounts of what it was like, how people have felt afterward and what their experience was like.  So I am going to do my best to give you my account day by day. 
I want to make a couple blanket statements before I start this process because I don’t think these thoughts and stories are always going to be pretty, but they are going to be honest. 
  • I have never doubted before or since the surgery that Kate and I have made the correct decision to donate to Ashley
  • I am incredibly excited that she is doing so well with the new Kidney.
  • I am taking pain medication (just in case I need an excuse for something I write)
  • I reserve the right to add more to this list but can’t think of anything else right now.
So let’s start with the surgery day.
What is it like to have your kidney removed?
The honest answer is I really have no idea; you would have to ask the doctors.  This really is one of the harder things to deal with mentally.  My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 which meant I had to be there at 6 and I hadn’t eaten the entire day before because of the bowel prep.  I hadn’t had any trouble sleeping until that night, just the anticipation of the surgery has most of your nerves on end, so I probably only got 3 or 4 hours of sleep but it felt like a lot less.  To say the least I wasn’t in my best form that morning.
We showed up at the hospital met family and went up to the procedure waiting room.  There was a giant guy at the desk, but he had a really calming personality, seemed like he was perfect for the job (I will let you figure out why).  They took Kate and I back into the procedure suites (I like that they call them suites, makes it seem fancy, really it was just three walls with a curtain on one side).  There were an endless line of doctors and nurses that came in, that asked you all the same questions, and gave us the lovely gown.
Two things strike me about the gown, is there really not a better option for people in the hospital?  We have improved on so much but the gown they came up with 100 years ago is the best we can do. Secondly how did my super crafty wife not make me a personalized monogrammed gown, it just seems like something that would be right up her ally, not that I am complaining.
After the gown they put in the IV line and well you are pretty much ready to go.  There was one doctor who I’m not sure what his background was but he had a very raspy voice and he was one of the last one’s to come in.  He must have been my best man because his comment was you know you don’t have to do this you can still back out (we have a car waiting in the back and we can get you out of here).  I’m not sure if I am sharing too much guy information here, but that is the job of the best man, not the only job, but the day of the wedding he needs to let the groom know that there is a way out. 
Both.women and men are shaking their heads right now, women because they can't believe this happens, and men because they can't believe I told women that it happens, well it does and I'm sorry.
So they wheel you away from your wife as she is crying and you go down some weird halls that they don’t let anyone see and a bunch of half faces put you to sleep.  I’ve heard people tell stories of counting backwards or them saying something, but both times I have been knocked out a half face came at me and said this is an oxygen mask and I think I just passed out because of fear I have no idea but that is the last thing I remember. 
Then you wake up, you really have no idea what happened.  Your family is next to you and they have completely understanding of everything that is going on, and you are just thinking do I know where I am and do I have pants on (which you don’t) and to be honest you aren’t thinking that because I’m not sure you realize you still have legs. I remember talking to several people, Kate, Mom, Keith, some people rolling me around and then getting taken to my room, which until I went back to visit Ashley after we checked out I had no idea where it was in the hospital.
They ask you to roll from the rolling cart to your bed which is just mean and very painful but somehow I did it, and then you are in your room.
It doesn’t feel like anything has been removed from you, it’s not like they took a finger or an arm or a leg.  They took something you really didn’t know you had from a place that you really can’t feel or see.  You know you have a giant incision in your belly (4 inches) and two holes below your belly button.  It hurts, feels weird and is very uncomfortable, you have a button you can push every 10 minutes and I assumed it worked because the pain was controllable but I never felt a huge difference when I pushed it. 
The actual experience is to be honest the best word to describe it is disappointing.  I’m not sure if that makes sense, but they explained this very well and a lot in the process of becoming a donor.  You are healthy going into surgery, and in the reality of the situation they are making your body worse, they are taking something away from you, so you don’t feel better afterwards.  Besides pain maintenance there is really nothing for them to check with you to see if it took or if the surgery was successful.  If you are alive and breathing your surgery was a success.
That seems like enough information for today, I think Kate is going to post the kidney picture today and I will let her give the more fun updates, but I wanted to get started with the experience before it got to removed from my mind. 

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