Saturday, March 24, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Transplant Experience, Part the First

I confess to having had a spasm of last-minute panic the morning of February 16. As I waited in pre-op, gowned, IVed and pressure-cuff-legged, the reality of being cut open with a scalpel got suddenly very immediate, and my brain started babbling at me: You're not that sick! It's too soon! You can manage as you have been! You big baby! They're going to cut into your freaking abdomen! Et cetera, and so forth. But luckily, it passed.

Arrival time at the hospital was 6AM, as rules prevent them from starting the donor's surgery until the recipient is present and accounted for (I'm guessing, in case the recipient has a tragic car accident on the way to the hospital and dies). So I got to spend several hours in a Benedryl haze while my brother had his left kidney laproscopically removed.

(In living donor transactions, it is almost always the left kidney - apparently the artery feeding the right kidney is considerably larger than that feeding the left, making things trickier for the donor's surgery.)

(Amongst the pre-op meds are super-strong immunosupressants and Benedryl in case one has an allergic reaction to them. 50 mg of Benedryl is was enough to knock me out almost cold.)

The operating room looks nothing like the operating rooms on TV. For one thing, no mood lighting. It is as bright as a thousand suns in there, which was comforting, as being able to see what one is doing is presumably desirable in these situations. Also, my GAH, the clutter. Supplies and whatnot stacked all around the perimeter of the room. And HORDES of people: the surgeon, his resident, the anesthesiologist and HIS assistant, as least two surgical nurses, and a few other people to whom I was not formally introduced.

It was crowded.

Luckily, sleep came quickly. I had been worried about being intubated for the surgery - not so much being intubated, which they do after knocking you out, but the EXtubation, which occurs you're coming out of anesthesia. I was worried about being aware of the extubation, needlessly, as it turned out. When I came to, I was aware of a HUGE amount of pressure on my lower right abdomen, which quickly evolved into unbearable pain accompanied by uncontrollable shakes. They got the pain meds into me pretty quickly (by now a central line had been placed), but it was dicey for a few moments. Thank god for Demerol.

I spent a long time in Recovery, as my blood pressure hit the basement with the introduction of the pain meds. Luckily, Michael was able to come back and see me. It ended up being a VERY long day for him, as I didn't get to a hospital room until about 5 PM and he stayed until I was comfortably situated...

1 comment:

Magpie said...

fascinating. hope all's going well.