Monday, March 26, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Transplant Experience, Part the Second

In order to protect me from germs as much as possible, I was given a hospital room all the way at the end of the corridor, in a quiet corner far from the bustle of the nurses' station and other patients. The quiet was a blessing, but there was still very little sleep to be had the first few nights. The aforementioned leg pressure cuffs stayed on for 2-3 days, automatically inflating and deflating at regular 30-second intervals. There is simply no way to fall asleep with that shit going on. On top of which, vitals were checked every hour the first night and every two hours the second night. The third night, I spiked a fever, so we were back to every hour with the vitals. Oy to the vey. (The fever was gone by morning, and has not returned.)

As a result, I spent much of my first few days in the hospital dozing off throughout the day and spending very little "awake" time. My brother was up and walking the first evening, but it took me a good 48 hours to get out of bed, weak as a kitten and shaking like a leaf. My first big move was from the bed to the scale two feet away, and from there to the chair, where I sat and dozed for the next several hours, too tired even to hold a book.

By the fourth night, with the fever gone and the cuffs were off, I finally managed to get some sustained rest, almost sleeping through the vitals checks every four hours.

About the scale. During the surgery and immediately afterward, I was pumped full of fluids to "flood" the new kidney and get it up and running quickly (I was "nil by mouth" except for ice chips for the first 24 hours). The morning after the surgery they weighed me in the bed and I weighed 15 pounds more than I had immediately prior to surgery -- that's a lot of saline! Because I was not immediately ambulatory, I was catheterized, and that puppy was working overtime (add regular emptying of the pee bag to the ongoing sleep interruptions...). The first few days, I looked about 6 months pregnant and had sausages for fingers. Interestingly, the fluid retention was worse on my right side than the left, with my right thigh literally twice the size of my left. I was told that this is typical; that the fluid retention tends to be worse on the side of the body where the surgery took place. Almost 6 weeks later, I still have a little fluid in my right thigh, while my gut and fingers are back to normal.

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