Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home safely

Got home safely yesterday at 7pm. We left Toronto at noon. We stopped every hourish so I could walk for a few minutes (to help prevent blood clots). I also had to wear my pressure stockings again. That made me feel real cool.

The doctor in Toronto freaked me out. She told me that some of the only cases where blood clots have formed in patients after a surgery were after young patients, like myself, have driven home from Toronto to Ottawa. So, I took the hourly walks, leg exercises and stockings very seriously.

Thanks so much to Jeremy, Charleen and family for helping get us and all our stuff home safely.

When we got home, we were greeted by all our friends. Even though Chel and I were both tired, we were so glad to see friends and be home that we partied all night. We even went and saw a late show at the Barrhaven Cineplex - Seven Pounds.

If you haven't seen Seven Pounds and you don't know what its about, just go see it. If you find out what its about before you see it, it will ruin the movie completely. Chel, my brother and I saw it in Toronto shortly after I was released from the hospital. The three of us were a wreck at the end of the movie. So good! Go see it!

So glad to be home.

~

We visited dad yesterday and he's doing amazing. Its the first day we've visited him and he hasn't been confused or emotional. He was himself again! It was so great to see.

Last I heard, the hospital was trying to release him to a rehab facility (St Johns Rehabiliation in Willowdale, Toronto). Rehab will help my dad become more independent before being placed back in my mom's care. At the moment, he's having a difficult time getting up on his own, walking, etc.

I'll check with mom in Toronto later today and keep you all posted.

God - thank you so much for taking care of dad and I! Thank you so much that I was able to give my dad a second chance. Continue to give mom strength and stamina to be the wife she needs to be during this difficult rehabilitation process.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Going home!

We got the go ahead to leave! See you all in Ottawa soon!

Pray that I won't get a blood clot on the way home.

2 week checkup

Chel and I are just getting ready for my 1 week checkup appointment. We have to be at the hospital at 8am for blood work (reh!) and then an appointment with my Toronto doctor at 9am. In all likelihood, we should get the green light to head back to Ottawa.

Jeremy and Charleen are supposed to meet up with us sometime between 10am-noon at our hotel. Hopefully we'll be on the road by noon and on our way back home.

It'll be bitter sweet to leave Toronto. We can't wait to get home - but we don't want to leave mom and dad alone in Toronto.

Please keep mom in your prayers. She's having a difficult time as my dad's recovery is a bumpier road than any of us had anticipated. And pray that my dad will regain his strength and his sanity sooner than later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

You gave me your liver!?


Had a good visit with dad today. He's still pretty confused, but he's a more aware of his confusion and asks more questions. Seems like a good sign to me.

Chel and I offered to take him down to Starbucks for a drink and some fresh scenary. He agreed, but needed help getting out of the bed. I told him I couldn't help because I just had surgery.

"You just had surgery!? What?" said dad.

"Dad! ..." I just paused staring at him with a what-the-hell look on my face.

He looked forward, combed his fingers through his hair, then suddenly glared back at me with glistening eyes and said, "You gave me your liver?!"

"Yeah dad!"

He started to cry. He felt so bad that he had forgotten.

Earlier that day, he called one of the nurses into the room and said, "Nurse - I've got to go pee! What do I do?"

The nurse said, "Go to the bathroom!"

He said he felt so foolish asking and even more foolish for not nowing in the first place.

A few hours later, he called the nurse in again and said, "I have to take a dump! What do I do?"

The nurse said, "Go to the bathroom! Just like last time!"

My dad thought to himself... What!? What do I do when I get there? Just crouch on the floor? When he stepped into the bathroom and saw the toilet, he laughed outloud to himself... he was so embarrased to realize there was a toilet in the washroom.

Anyway, we had a great time at Starbucks, though it was short lived. We all got a drink, then almost immediately after we sat down, dad complained about pain so we had to head back up to his room.

Very slowly, day by day, dad's getting a bit better.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Great Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

We had a phenomenal Christmas in Toronto. A few days ago, we were able to upgrade our accommodations. We now have a full apartment with a nice king-bed bedroom and walk in closet. Because of the upgrade, we had a great living space to do Christmas with the whole family.

We all (Steve, Gail, mom, Becky, James, Chel and I) met up at our new apartment at around 9am and we opened all our gifts together. It was a great Christmas. It was tough knowing that dad was all alone in the early morning, but we had plans to visit him as soon as we were done.

After opening all our wonderful gifts, Steve made us breakfast - so good! We all enjoyed each others company and had a great Christmas breakfast.

As soon as we were done, we grabbed our gifts for dad and headed to the hospital. Dad was so happy to see us! He's pretty emotional. "Where have you guys been?!?"

We moved him to a visitors lounge and spent a few hours with dad and watched him open his gifts. Chel and I got him a Harley Davidson sweater from Las Vegas. "Las Vegas!?!?! How did you do that!?" Apparently my dad had completely forgotten that Chel and I had just been to Las Vegas... and that wasn't the only thing he had forgotten.

While he was opening the gift wrap, he stopped, gripping the gift wrap in his right hand. He sat back and said, "See... now I'm confused. Once I unwrap the gift, isn't the wrapping supposed to just disappear?"

My dad had no idea what to do with garbage. Afterwards, he was tossing his orange peals on the ground, and his pill cups on the ground. Each time, I'd pick up after him and he's say, "See... I keep forgetting!"

Dad's confusion is pretty heavy. But its a normal part of recovery. He'll probably be like this for a few weeks still.

He's been doing a few pretty hilarious things...

He told the nurses and my mom that when Chelsea and I get pregnant (?? not sure why my dad thinks this is happening any time soon ??), my mom is also going to get pregnant and we're "going to go through this thing together".

My dad randomly called a loved one and told them on the phone, "You just wait! Something amazing is going to happen in so-and-so's honour! You just wait! You won't believe it!"

When we asked dad about the phone call he had made, his response was, "Yep - tummy tits".

When I originally visited dad for the first time after the surgery, apparently to him I was blue. Completely blue.

Directly in front of my dad's bed, there was a door labelled 10-2 - 10th floor, stair case 2. But all the door said was 10-2. My dad thought that at 10 to 2 (1:50pm), he was going to have to come get me through that door.

I can't remember anymore stories - but they were pretty funny... my dad will think they are funny when he's better.

Anyway, my dad did take a pretty bad fall before we got to the hospital. It shook him up pretty good. He's afraid of walking now. But I keep telling him he has to overcome his fear and keep trying to get better. It isn't going to do him any good to just sleep all day.

After visiting with dad, we headed back to the hotel for a chill afternoon with the family while Steve made a crazy awesome turkey dinner. Dinner was fabulous! So great!

All in all, great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hello from the other side!

Hey everyone - Josh here. Its great to be back.

First off, my experience last week was hell on earth. Some of it was a blur, all of it was terrible and I pray to God that I never have to have surgery again. I'd love to go ahead and post all my experiences and fill in on all the blanks, but I'd rather wait a bit before I start to delve into the details because at the moment, I'd just as soon forget it ever happened. Rest assured, I've made a few point form posts so I don't forget.

The last few days have been okay. Its really difficult to sleep. I've been sleeping on a sofa chair with no neck support. Its terrible. But I can't sleep on my back yet because it hurts - not sure why. But I did take a rando nap this morning on my side which gives me hope that I may be able to sleep in bed this evening.

As I very slowly get back to normal (and I'm talking slow - I'm still walking slouched and I'm eating very small meals), my focus has changed from me getting better to praying for dad.

My dad's recovery is going to be a bumpy road. He hasn't been in is right mind the past few days and their not sure whats wrong. He had a chest infection two days ago which he was treated for but he still doesn't seem to be getting better. But the doctors and nurses who have done 100's of transplants continue to assure us that this is normal. Dad's recovery will take weeks, not days. The good news is that my liver graft is performing great!

God - You're not done with my Dad's life. You're still working and I have faith that you'll see him through!

Please continue to pray for my dad's recovery.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Josh is Out!!

Just got in to the hotel, and this time I have my husband with me!

Josh was let out today! He is sooo happy! We are just headed out to pick up his millions of perscriptionsm, so he will write later and fill you all in on his side of things!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chelsea Gets Inked!

So a few weeks ago when we found out this would all be going down, James had an idea for us to get tattoos while Brian and Josh were in surgery so that we would all come out of this with permanent scars together. I loved the idea of it, but what to get?
Im not scared of tattoos, but I wanted something with meaning.

The night before the surgery I was reading a magazine and saw a picture of Rhianna where you could see this cool tattoo on her back. I thought, thats a wicked place for a tattoo. So I had the spot, now what to get?

Then litterally it all came to me.

Through this whole situtaion Josh and I have been talking about how much love people are showing us. We never would have imagined all the emails, blog comments, gifts and hugs. Josh's words to live by have always been "Love God, Love People". I thought I understood what that meant, until all this happened. I feel like every single one of you have REALLY shown us what it REALLY means to love people. Your blog comments, phone calls, visits, gifts, meals, snacks, emails, hugs, shoulders to cry on and prayers are truly what got us through this. We keep saying we cant wait to be able to show that same love back, to be there for someone else when they need it. I dont want to ever forget all that was done for us and how it made us feel. I never want to forget what it means to love.

3-2-1!

My back


Love.

The more I thought about, the more I realized that word has a lot of meaning to me on top of all of that. Josh and I call eachother "Love". A few weeks ago my Dad took the family to Vegas to see the Beatles Cirque Du Soleil in honour of my Grandpa. The show is called "Love". At the end of the show, the very last song was "All You Need is Love". My brother and I on either side of my Dad all stood with our arms around eachother. I knew that moment would be one I would carry with me forever.

When the tattoo was done, the guy doing it saw my scar from my appendix and showed me he had one around the same spot. "Appendix?" I asked, "no, kidney transplant".
nnnooo waaayy. 5 Years ago, at the same hospital, his uncle donated a kidney to him.

So there you have it.

Thank you everyone for loving us.

Love, Love, Love...

Ps-Josh LOVES it!

And Happy Birthday Jared(my bro)! Wish we were there. love you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Switch-a-roo

Today Josh was great!
Brian was not.

As far as recovering is going, Brian is still doing great. He was moved today from ICU to ACU and is starting to come off all the crazy meds they had him on. Unfortunatly Brian's "bad day" was much worse then Josh's. He was basically confused all day. He didnt understand where he was, he couldnt figure out how to eat and he was halucinating. When Josh and I went in to see him he was pretty bad. He kept saying "wait a minute...Josh..." and then he would just look so confused. Like he wanted to say something but couldnt figure out how. Then, like father like son, he gave me the Bloomfield death eyes! He wins the death eyes award. Im pretty sure he burned a hole in me. It was sad/scary. He kinda of put his finger up like "I think I know you...I just cant figure out why..". He also kept pushing his feet against the end of his bed saying "how many times do I have to do this!". We think he thought that was his call button for his nurses. Its hard in a time like that to know if you should laugh or be serious. Especially when you are on an emotional roller coaster all week. Literally! Its a rollder coaster ride every single day. you never know what you'll walk into that day. I think this was a serious time though. Linda found it very hard. She told me at the end of the night, that even though he didnt understand where he was or what was going on he looked at her and said "you're supposed to be here with me." He knew she was the one that stands beside him.

On a good note, Josh was unhooked from everyhing today! A free man! He took a shower and walked all over the place. Cailin also came in and showed him how to give himself the needle he has to do for the next 5 weeks. eewww. Cant handle that. I think he can do it though.

After all he's been through, I know he can do it.

He got his bandages changed, so we got the first full look at the scar. We know you are all wondering what it looks like, so of course there is a pic.

So we're hoping tomorrow will be a better day for Brian.
As for Josh, I cant believe Im saying this but....
We're hoping for some farts!
If the gasses start moving he will hopefully be out on Sunday, but for once in his life he isnt farting so we are looking at maybe Monday.
Who would have thought?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Feeling Better

So today was a better day for Josh. When I got to his room he wasnt there because he had been taken downstairs for an ultrasound. When he came back and saw me, he SMILED! Josh is back!! He was finally back to himself. He admitted he doesnt really remember much from the past 3 days, so I took some time filling him in on the funny things he said, the people he saw and the scowls he gave! He felt SO bad! Its ok love, its all normal. I also read to him all the wonderful messages everyone has been leaving. Through his bad heart burn he managed to smile again. That was great to see. He's now feeling pretty normal, not much pain from the actual surgery just really really bad heart burn. I can see its kind of depressing him. No matter what they give him, it doesnt seem to go away. He is being so strong though. I am so proud of him. I hope he learns through this that he can do anything! After his ultrasound he was moved down to the 7th floor and out of ACU. Progress! They gave him a big private room with his own bathroom and shower.

Brian is another story! Im tellin ya, you have to peel him off the ceiling he is SO happy! We had a great surprise visit from Wayne today. When I took him to see Brian, as soon as we turned the corner in ICU we heard this LOUD clapping! I knew right away it was Brian in his room having his own little party! Later on in the day Josh took a long walk up to his Dad's room and they had a great visit. As we left Brian belted out at the top of his lungs "Fa la la la la!". His nurses must think he's lost his mind!

Oh and he now has his own compact mirror that he can pull out whenever he wants to look at himself again. And he does alot!

The blood clot surgery for Brian ended up being cancelled because it seems to be fixing itself! He will hopefully be moved from ICU to ACU (where Josh just was) in the next few days.

Tomorrow Josh will be unhooked from everything! No more IV's or catheter. Then hopefully out of the hospital at the end of the weekend.

Im so proud of you love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Loooong Day

A few days ago one of the Doctor's told us "If you can believe it, when Josh is ready to go see Brian for the first time, Brian will look and feel better then Josh".

Huh?

Well, that Doctor could not have been more right.

Josh had a rough day. Basically the high of the surgery being over (and the meds wearing off) leave the donor feeling like..crap. The good thing is, he is recovering well and going through all the normal things he should be going through. Including being very grumpy. I love you Lovest...but you had a scowl on your face allllll day. This is when his bowls and things start moving around again, leaving him feeling very gassy. He had heart burn, acid indijestion and naseau (sounds like the pepto commercial). They warned us this would happen, but you never know how bad until youre there. He was not himself today. I felt so bad, there was nothing I could do.

We thought maybe a video from Brian would cheer him up..
video

In case you didnt catch all that...Brian is going to get another small surgery to fix the blood clot they found. Its very common and just an hour long surgery. The "Campbells Soup" he is referring to would be blood. If you know Brian, this video will be great for you to see! He's back to Brian, so happy with his own sense of humour. Linda says he still keeps asking for a mirror so he can look at himself. In reality, he doesnt look any different on the outside. Except that his eyes are brighter and his smile is bigger! But boy...does he ever think he looks great! He says he feels brand new inside. That is so amazing to see, I cant even tell you.

As funny and cute as that video is, it didnt do the trick for Josh. So we asked Brian's nurse if Josh could come by. She said yes! We got him a wheel chair and brought him on over to Brian's room.

I know deep down inside he was happy to see his Dad, but he wasnt too great at showing it today. Just in case you werent sure what a Josh "scowl" looks like...I just so happened to get a picture of it. oh boy. That might just be worse then my evil look.
What a roll reversal. Josh was so down and Brian was literally bouncing in his bed. You would not believe the change in Brian. He was singing (trying to!), snapping his fingers, bouncing his legs. He couldnt sit still. He's just SO happy. I cant wait for Josh to feel better so that he can experience the new Brian.

We realized that Josh has not been sleeping. That is taking a HUGE toll on him. After the visit, he finally slept for 3 hrs. The rest of the night was spent feeling very crappy though. We were reasurred that it is all normal. Tomorrow he will be moved from the step down unit to the 7th floor which is the general transplant unit. He also got rid of lots of IV's and things today and will get unhooked from more tomorrow. That should help in the way he feels. He has these crazy sock things on his legs that compress every few minutes to prevent blood clots. They are really starting to bug him. Hopefully they will come off tomorrow.

Anyways, if you couldnt tell I am WAY tired. Just wanted to update everyone. Keep all the great comments coming. Tomorrow I am going to write down all the nice messages Ive gotten and bring them into Josh for encouragement. He needs it now more then ever.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 2

Chelsea here again.

I am way exhausted so this will be short and might not make sense.

Today was pretty crazy and draining.

Good news-Josh and Brian both got up and walked around a bit! On day 2!

The second time Josh got up (yes he walked twice!) his oxygen levels did something and his heart rate went up. This caused a lot of concern. They were worried about a blood clot so they brought in some stuff to his room to do an EKG and a chest xray. Those came back fine, but because they are exra cautious with donors they sent him for a CT. If you all remember Josh's post about robo-ray, you'll remember he wasnt a big fan of the ct scan. They wheeled him down in his bed and did it all and everything came back fine. The only thing they saw was a bit of a colapse at the bottom of his lungs which isnt unusual for donors. He just has to keep using this crazy blowing thing to excerise deep breathing and opening up his lungs.

That in itself was tiring. Later on I left the room for the first time the whole day to go eat some dinner. I was gone maybe 20 min. When I got back I walked into to Josh holding his heart monitor things in his hand while the whole room beeped. His IV started beeping so he went to call his nurse with the call button, only she forgot to give it to him. So he called for her. She didnt hear him. So, being the smart boy he is, he pulled all his heart monitor things off his chest so that it would start beeping and she would come. Only she still didnt come. When I found her she was down at the other end of the hall. The thing with the Step Down Unit is it is set up so there is 1 nurse for 2 patients. The other patient being right next door to Josh. They are usually sitting at their desk infront of his room, and if not they are next door with their one other patient. What she was doing at the end of the hall is beyond me. When she came back in she kinda got mad at Josh for pulling off the heart monitor things. He replied "well you werent coming, so I figured if I pulled these off you'd think I was dead and come running".

Dont worry, I reported her. Josh has a great evening nurse though. Go Marc! (Marc with a C, Josh keeps saying).

Oh ya, if one person wasnt enough to worry about...

During Linda's visit today with Brian, she noticed some blood coming from his nose tube that goes down to his stomach . She told the nurse who said "ya thats not normal". Im not sure of the exact details, but they did some tests and are suspecting a blood clot. If that is the case he will need another surgery to fix it. Maybe even sometime in the night.

Besides that Brian is doing great! His liver count is down (it was up when he had liver failure) which means Joshs liver is working. I went to see him with Becks right before we left tonight and he was so happy! I told him Josh looked great and he put his fist in the air and said "Thank you Jesus!". Havent seen him like that in months! He kept asking "how do I look?" and when we told him great he said "I wanna see myself!". So Becky pulled out her compact and let him take a look. His eyes lit up and he said "WOW!!! Look at that!!! Thats incredible!! I look great!". He was SOOO happy. That was SO amazing to see!

He asked us to pray that he would have a good sleep tonight. Also pray for this blood clot and that it would get fixed and he would continue to heal well.
There are still risks for both of them, so everyone keep praying! Everything is good so far, but its not over yet.

Ok sleep.

"Did you just say Circuit?"

Alright, Chelsea here. It's all over and everything went great! There are some great comments by Becky and Jamie under Josh's last blog under comments. They were both writing before and during the surgery, so its full of detatils of what it was like while it was all happening. I'll try my best to remember everything now, but I just got back from the hospital after spending the night with Josh.

So when we go to the hospital and Josh was brought in the holding room (the big room with everyone waiting for surgery on beds) we were told by Cailin (transplant coordinator) that the surgery was actually on hold. Apparently a bunch of deseased organs came in over the weekend (none for us!) that needed to be transplanted right away, so there were more surgeries then planned. After that we werent really told much, so Josh, Jamie and I just hung out waiting in the holding area while everyone else sat in the waiting room next door. We thought we'd be waiting a while, we were getting the impression the surgery would be pushed back a few hours. Then out of nowhere it was like we were surrounded by nurses with stockings and papers and a hair cap thingy saying "its time!" and off they wheeled him! It was very overwhelming and really emotional. Thats when Josh started to get really upset and scared. It was so hard to see him so scared and not be able to do anything about. To have to say goodbye and not be by his side. It was heartbreaking. Ive never seen him so scared. Right outside the doors to all the surgery rooms (22 in total!) they let me run to get everyone else to come say goodbye quickly. So Linda, Becky, Aunt Patty, my Mom, Brad , Rikki and Alison all came and said their goodbyes. and off he went.

Wow...what a crazy moment.
But it wasnt over, there was still one more person to get ready for the surgery.

First I went to the waiting room to collect myself. When i got there brad and rikki handed me a box from Josh. My husband...the one giving away half his liver..had written me a song and made me a shirt because he knew Id be upset after he went in. What a great husband. I couldnt believe it.

Funny Josh, made me a tanktop with a picture of a liver and an incision mark! Oh Josh. On top of that, he wrote me a beautiful song....it was so perfect for the moment. He knew everything I would be feeling and said all the right things to fix it.

I honestly have the best husband ever.

After that I went up to Brian's room with Ali and Rikki because not only had Josh taken the time to write a song for me..he wrote one for his Dad too. Becks and Linda were already up there praying with Brian. When they were done I handed him the headphones. He cried...but he seemed so happy to hear Joshs voice singing to him. Again, before you know it....nurses show up and are rushing to get him ready and moved to the holding room. He started to seem to get really scared, but thankfully once we got done there he slept. When we said goodbye to Brian he was still relaxed and sleeping. Which was nice to see.

Then we waited....alllll day. It actually went by pretty fast. We had the prime spot in the waiting room with couches in the corner. We slept, played Uno, drank starbucks. It was SOOO great to have a great support group. Thank you friends.

A nurse came to let us know that the actual transplant was taking place and both were doing great! what a relief to get an update.

Then at about 2:30 Joshs surgeon (Dr.Grieg) came in and explained to us how great Joshs surgery had gone. All the cuts went perfect and he barely bled. No blood transfusion! Brian was still doing great but would be a few more hours.

I think other then the pre surgery time, the time waiting to be allowed to go see Josh seemed like forever! He needed to be in recovery for a while and then moved to the step down unit. FINALLY we got to go see him. The good thing with being a donor is everyone kinda breaks the rules. Instead of only two visitors, Me, Ali, Rikki, Brad James and my mom were all able to go in. Linda and Patty waited in the waiting room to hear when Brians surgery was done.

When we got in Josh was still very out of it. He could barely get his words out but the first thing he said was "WOW!". He couldnt believe it was all done. The second thing "Hows Dad?". It was scary and crazy seeing him with all these things in him. In most cases it would be a kind of soft and somber moment. Not with Josh. We all knew that when it was all over, he would really want LOTS of pictures and video to see what he looked like and what he was doing. So we did! We got some funny videos of him trying to talk. Everytime he would try to say something 6 people would all lean in real close to try to hear him. At one point he managed to get out "everyone give my wonderful wife a round of applause" haha. Later I asked him something like "how are you feeling?" He crinkled his face for a second kinda confused and then said "did you just say circuit?". Only Josh...

He kept saying that everything made sense in his head, but he couldn't say it right. I kept telling him to try to just give in and sleep but he responded " i want to try to do stuff so they think Im a miracle donor so I can get out of here in 2 hrs". He is just like his Dad. If you dont know him well, you think he's talking gobbly gooop...but if you do know him, you realize he's still full of his great sense of humour. At one point he said "i had a dream....and you were there..and you were there.." (wizard of Oz).
My Mom just told me something amazing. Josh has been reading this book called The Shack. I havent read it, so all I know are the parts Josh has told me, but I know alot of you have so this will mean something to you. Basically its a true story written by a man whos young daughter was murdered. He has all these crazy encounters with God while he tries to cope with his daughters death. God visits him in many different ways, and one of them was that God was a black woman. Well apparently yesterday Josh kept asking his mom if a black woman was in the room. He has been seeing this woman standing in the room with him! wow. That is crazy.

Brian was finally out and ready to be seen around 8pm. Becky and I went in. Boy that was hard. He had so many tubes and things. He had a tube down his throat breathing for him. But he is with it and knew what was going on. Which made it worse. He couldnt speak to tell the nurses what was hurting, which I could tell was frustrating for him. He tends to get panicky sometimes in hospital, and we could see he was going there. Because of that, the nurses decided to take the tube out of his throat. They also assured us that even though he looked bad, he was actually doing very very well. What great news.

Shortly after that everyone left. I got a wonderful little chair to sleep in with non egyptian cotton sheets and plastic pillows. I actually had a great sleep though. And so did Josh. He would randomly try having a conversation with me in the middle of the night, which was kinda funny. This morning he was still acting kinda funny, but he's waking up more and more. Sometimes I will ask him something and he wont answer. When I say "Josh?" he goes "oh sorry, I answered you in my head".

Im just getting freshened up and ready to head back with my mom. Believe it or not, they will be getting Josh up and moving a bit today. Good thing he has that morphine button!

It feels SOOOOO good that the surgery is over. Josh keeps saying he's so happy its over and hes not scared anymore. There is still LOTS of recovery for both of them. But the fact that is going so well already is a huge relief.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last post before Surgery...

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boy.

I can't believe its here. It's actually here.

We had a good day today. We got a early start - went to breakfast with mom at 'Frans'. Then, we met dad at around 9:15am. He was in better spirits, but still pretty nervous. We got one last picture together before the operation.

Dad and I every now and then have little freak outs because we're nervous. A few nights ago, Chelsea told me, "Josh - if you're committed to doing this, then your only allowed to say positive things from now on - no negative words. So, instead of saying your scared, say, 'Everything's going to be alright!' or 'God's going to take care of everything!'

My dad thought that was pretty wise. He started saying things like... 'Aah! My back feels great today!', meanwhile, we all know his back has been bothering him for many months now.

One thing dad hasn't lost is his sense of humour.

After the hospital, we came back to the hotel and spent some time chillin. Then, we met up with some friends for lunch. Around 1pm, we picked up Chels mom from the train station.

We didn't do much for the rest of the afternoon. We went out for dinner. We had a great convo with our waitress. She was blown away that I was donating a part of my liver. She was even more taken back when she found out that I hadn't had a drink of alcohol my entire life.

We've been at our new home in Toronto ever since about 6pm. Just watching TV... trying to preoccupy ourselves before bedtime.

Tomorrow morning, I think I'm going to be poppin' an Ativan (anxiety relief). Not sure exactly how much it will help, but I've been told countless times that it will make my morning go much smoother.

Go Ativan Go!

~

I can't believe this is happening.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't let the sun go down on today...

Chill day today. Chelsea and I kinda slept in 'till around 10amish before we started getting ready for the day. I would have rather got up earlier and made most of the day. I love those days where you feel like you've done so much, and, wow - look at the time, it's only noon... I have a whole day left.

Instead, by the time we got ready, headed to the hospital, and spent a few hours with dad, it was already 3pm. My first thought was - ahh... I don't want the sun to go down. That means its the night before the night before the surgery.

Dad wasn't doing so hot today. He hasn't been doing well the past few weeks. Straight up, I think we're all convinced that if this transplant doesn't go down on Monday, dad won't last longer than a month or so. And he's ready to give up. He's so fed up with everything. He's been sick for so long that we, including himself, have forgotten what its like for him to be well... his hearty laugh, his chubby cheeks...

It was good to spend time with him.

Well, the sun's gone down. Mom took Chel and I out for dinner. Good bonding. I told them over dinner, "I waned to post a little tribute to 'the women in my life' tonight on the blog, just in case anything happens on Monday."

In unison, Chelsea and mom both exclaimed, "Josh... don't say that!"

Hahaha! Nothing is going to happen - everything is going to be fine... I know it. But I still have to pay tribute to the wonderful wives.

First, Chelsea. Everyone who is close to Chelsea knows that she's made a drastic transformation. She's not only become a fabulous wife, but a strong, confident, resilient woman. She is my rock. She always says what I need to hear. She's always there for me when I'm being a big sappy baby. She gives of herself everyday. God, I pray you'll continue to be Chelsea's strength. Continue to listen to the prayers she prays in her heart and give her the ears to listen for your soft spoken response. Continue to reveal your grace through her life.

Second, Linda (mom). Hands down - the most committed, brazen wife I've ever met. She has seen my dad/family through thick and thin. She is my dad's saviour. She's my dad's rock. She's my dad's everything. I have no idea where my family would be today without her prayers. God, I pray that you'll give mom a peace beyond comprehension. Restore in her anything that is lacking and mend anything that is broken. Continue to show your perfect love through her example.

Thank you so much everyone who has loved us through this situation. We draw strength from your encouragement and your love. Please continue to poor it on. Our family can't wait for an opportunity to love you all back.

~

'Nancy' posted a verse... I'm sure her intention was just to encourage me. But she did far more.

About 10 years ago, my youth group went on a 'Youth Retreat', not sure where. I didn't get to go. I was a bit of a wild child in my younger years. I can't remember why, but my parents didn't want me to go on the retreat. I was devastated. I loved those retreats.

On this retreat, a pastor by the name of Richard Gill spoke. On one of the evenings, before his sermon began, he asked, "Where is Josh? Is there a Josh here?"

My youth pastor (Pastor Rob) replied, "He's a member of our group, but he didn't come this weekend. Why?"

"I have a verse you need to give to him."

When the youth arrived back, my pastor found me and reported, "Josh - Pastor Gill had a prophetic word for you that you missed out on because you didn't come on the retreat!" He sat me down and gave me the verse. "Joshua chapter one... but especially verses 6-9."

"Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Ever since, that verse has been weighing on my heart and mind. A) because I thought it was incredibly powerful, and B) because I had a feeling in my gut that it was going to be pivotal in my life, at some point.

Now, 10 years later, here I am being reminded of that same verse by Nancy... Joshua 1:9... the verse that for so long I tried to find a deeper meaning to... tried to find its application in my life... that I had given up on because I couldn't find it's purpose.

Now, more appropriately then ever, do I need to hear these words right from the mouth of Father himself...

Son, be strong and courageous! Stop being afraid or discouraged. I'm with you wherever you go!

Thank you Nancy - and thank all of you who have posted spiritual encouragement. Every word strengthens our heart and spirit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to post a comment...

This post is for all you who have no idea how to post a comment. (click the images below for more details)


  1. Click the 'Comment' button at the bottom of any post.

  2. Type your comments in the box on the top right.

  3. Click the Name/Url option.

  4. Type you name in the 'Name' field that appears. Ignore 'Url'.

  5. Click the 'Publish Your Comment' button.





She put a Q-Tip in my bum

Early morning. Woke up at 6am. Got ready and headed to the hospital for 7:30am. There, I met up with Cailin (our transplant coordinator) at the blood lab. I got some final blood tests taken and she personally rushed them over to the lab to go the results ASAP.

Afterward, we started the pre-admission process. It took about 3 hours. First, we met with a nurse who had to take all my vitals. Then, she wanted to take a swab of my nose, armpit, crouch and bum. Reh!??!?!

Those of you who know me well know that I can be a pretty awkward guy. I think in the history of Josh awkwardness, this moment tops them all. After taking both the tongue and the underarm swab, she asked me to remove my pants and underwear. So, I got up and just stood in the middle of the room... slowly unbuttoning my pants as if I were unsure if this was what I was really supposed to do. I pulled my pants down, she did the front swab. Then she asked for my bum. I turned around and gave the pose you see in the picture to the right. Chelsea almost died laughing - but in her heart because she didn't know if I felt violated or not.

The nurse did more of a swipe instead of a swap... double swipe. Only God knows what lives down there, but I guess we'll soon find out.

After that nurse, I met a pharmacist, another nurse (for post-operative care), and then an anesthesiologist. There were some nerve racking moments - but ultimately, it all went well.

Finally, we met back up with Cailin. She walked through a few more things, and allowed us to take a tour of the pre-operative care unit - where I'll be on Monday morning. Did you know that Toronto General's preoperative ward has 22 operating rooms!!?!?! CRAZY! Many surgeries going on at once. The preoperative ward looks a lot like the Ottawa Civic's Observation room... many beds with patients prepped for their surgery.

I was also prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for both Chel and I to take the morning of. I'm not sure if we're going to take it or not, but its nice to know that its an option.

I'm going to be fully awake when they wheel me from the pre-operative care unit to the operating room. I'll see all the crazy people in masks. I'll even be transferred to the cold, thin, metal surgery tray while I'm awake. As soon as I'm in position, the oxygen goes on my face, the anesthetic is injected and then I'll wake, what will seem like, a few minutes later asking, "Did it happen?" and "Hows dad?"

~

I'm most nervous about the pre-op stuff... the iv... the anticipation... seeing the operating room... etc. I just want it all over with already.

~

So it's all happening on Monday morning. The only two things that can stop this from happening is A) some technical issue forces a cancellation (ie. the ventilation fans in the OR stop working) or B) Dad receives a deceased liver between now and Monday morning, which is unlikely, but a possibility none-the-less.

So, I'm going to be praying that God finds a deceased liver for dad before Monday. And for an increased awareness of his love and grace in case he can't find one.

~

God, its so obvious now looking back on my life that everything I've gone through with dad, all my experiences, all my desires not to drink/do drugs, has lead to this. And even though I'm so scared, I believe you've given me the preparation I need to do this. And the work you've started in me I know you'll finish.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arrived safely

Chelsea and I arrived in TO safely. We took the train. We were seated in a first class car - wonderful! Furthermore, we got the cool 4 seater both thingy, with a table. It was just Chelsea, myself and a wonderful girl from Montreal who chatted with us the entire ride.

Hey cool-girl-from-Montreal, great talking with you! You're a great talker - you should go to school for psych or something ;) (she's getting her PHD in psych). All the best.

I spent some time updating the blog so read through for all the details. Also got to start playing Zelda for Nintendo DS while Chelsea played Brain Age. Lots of fun. Train's are the way to go.

We're in room 2402, Sutton Place Hotel. We have a studio apartment until the 23rd. On the 23rd, we're upgrading to a one bedroom apartment so we can have family/friends here for Christmas. We plan on leaving Toronto on the 29th.

As awesome as the train ride was, it was a little bumpy at times. Not a very smooth ride. I'm thinkin' it might not be the best mode of transportation for post-op Josh. We're thinking we might need someone to come grab us from Toronto - preferably in a large vehicle as we have a butt load of stuff and I need some serious leg room.

~

So here I am. In Toronto. Here in Toronto... to see a movie? Hang out with friends? No. I'm donating half my liver. Its here... I'm in Toronto.

I... I seriously can NOT... I can't believe this is happening.

I can't believe the same Josh that hasn't been to a hospital EVER - who never see's his family doctor - who's afraid of everything medical - is voluntarily placing himself on an operating table.

I can't believe this is happening.

It's not a negative comment. I'm not saying it like, "What the heck am I doing... I need to bail!" I'm just saying it.

I was reflecting on everything last night. Two thoughts came to my head that I feel will really get my through the next few days.

A) God always goes before me in anything I do. He's prepared the way for me and will see me through.

B) I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. (Philipians 4:13)

Though God has been so faithful in encouraging me, I welcome any more Biblical encouragement right about now.

On our way

Dad left this morning at 10:30am in a helicopter ambulance. Pretty boss!

Chel and I have a hectic day ahead of us. Becuase of our extended stay (through Christmas), we have a lot more prep to do before 5pm.

We're taking the train to Toronto at 5pm. On the train, I'll be retroactively posting to the blog as of Dec 9th to catch everyone up on whats been happening. So check back tonight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Video Conference

I met my surgeon today over a video conference at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. Really really really nice guy. He explained everything to me again... all the risks. However, this time (unlike the last time), it was reassuring to hear everything he was saying. I guess it was because I was talking to my actual surgeon. He has reviewed my X-Rays many times and knows already exactly what he’s going to do – what portion he’s giving dad, what vessels he’s leaving on my liver... everything.

Near the end of the convo, he offered me the opportunity to back out of the surgery if I wanted. He said he’d help me find a legitamite medical reason not to do it. Although I was somewhat tempted to take his offer, I replied, “You know, hearing all the risks is scary. But ultimately, I’m willing to take those risks for dad. Also, I’m putting a lot of faith in your program. The fact that you’ve approved me as a donor is a compliment to my health. And I know you wouldn’t put me in danger if you didn’t have the utmost confidence that I’d be ok and my dad would have a great chance of living.”

He replied, “Those are all true statements. We are very mature program and you are in very capable hands.”

It was soo awesome to hear my surgeon say things like, “its all going to be fine – it’ll be over before you know it”. I think the majority of people in the program avoid that tone in order to maintain an unpersuasive atmosphere – they really want to make sure that I’m not being pressured into making this decision.

Right before he signed off, I jumped in, ‘Oh – one last question that I’m sure you and you’re video conferencing technician will think is just ridiculous. What are the chances that a photo can be taken during the procedure?’

Now, I know some of you reading this are thinking, “What – you want a photo of what?” If you know me, you know why. It’s just a Josh thing to ask.
His reply – “Well, because we’re a teaching hospital, our program often takes photos of procedures for use in teaching material. We definitely have the capability to do that. Here’s what I’ll do - remind me on Monday... I’ll open you up and take a photo of your liver as it is. I’ll continue with the procedure, separate your liver and prep it for transplant. I’ll see the two pieces of your liver in position and take another picture. I’ll prep the remaining half of your liver and take a photo of that. Then, I’ll ask the other surgeon to get a photo of your dad’s liver. Then, I’ll have them take a picture of your dad with your liver in him.”

The entire time, I’m freaking out – this is amazing. But when he said that final comment, “I’ll have them take a picture of your dad with your liver in him”, I nearly started to cry. A picture of that piece of me that will save my dad.

I can’t believe this is happening.

~

Looks like dad’s admission to the Toronto General has been bumped up to Wednesday, not Sunday. Also, he will be air-ambulanced to Toronto because of his condition and the weather.

Dad hasn't left yet...

Dad was supposed to have left early this morning. But the doctors have decided to transport him in an air ambulance to Toronto because of the road conditions.

FYI - I'll be catching everyone up on the latest details very soon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ho ho ho hotel!

We’ve started making some plans of our own. We’ve been in touch with the transplant coordinator and its all starting to feel more real.

We did get some bad news. I won’t be released from the hospital ‘till the 21st of December. Unfortunately, for my safety, I’m not permitted to travel the week after the surgery. So, Chelsea and I will have to spend an additional week in Toronto. Christmas in a hotel room – wooo hoo!

God – Thank you for your provision in the path and we know you’ll take care of us over Christmas.

So here are the plans:

Thursday, Dec 11
Leave for Toronto via Train. Grabbing a studio apartment at the Sutton Place, just a few blocks from the hospital.

Friday, Dec 12
We have appointments all morning to prep for the surgery. I have to pass an additional blood test as well as attend a pre-admission appointment where I’ll be fitted for stockings and other weird things.

I can’t believe this is happening.

Saturday & Sunday
Chill and relax.

Monday, Dec 15
Surgery goes down at 7am. Surgery is 6 hours long. I’ll be awake late in the afternoon.
I can’t believe this is happening.

Wednesday, Dec 17
Have some tubes removed (catheter, nasal tube (draining stomach)). I think some insane nurse is going to make me walk. But I’ll punch her before she does.

Thursday, Dec 18
I think I’ll start eating again. Apparently I’ll also be farting a lot (says the surgeon).

Sunday, Dec 21
Should be discharged

~

When I was talking to the transplant coordinator, I asked if I would be able to donate my own blood in the off chance that I’d need a transfusion during the procedure (3% chance). She said that if I were to donate my own blood, I’d need to have at least 2 weeks recovery time before the surgery, which obviously isn’t possible.

However, she did say that they’ll have use of a ‘Cell Saver’. During the operation, I will bleed. But my blood will be suctioned from my abdomen to keep it clear for the surgeons to work. The blood that is suctioned out is filtered and stored in the ‘Cell Saver’ until the end of the operation when it is given back to me through an IV. Isn’t that freakin nuts!?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday morning service

Incredible day today. It was the first Sunday morning service for Chel and I in over a year. We sat with mom and her friend Betty. We tried to arrive early to receive special prayer from the pastor but we arrived too late.

It was a great service – I’m not sure what made it so great. I think it was the love we felt. It was amazing. It was exactly what we needed.

The worship was great. I started to cry a few minutes into it because I couldn’t hear my dad’s bellowing voice singing beside me. I miss that dad! I miss that dad so much. He’s not that dad anymore. He doesn’t resemble his former self at all.
Its memories like that that remind me of why I’m doing what I’m doing.

~

Dad found out his schedule today for the surgery. He’ll be released on Tuesday. Mom will drive him to Toronto where he’ll have a few appointments. He won’t be officially admitted ‘till Sunday.

I can’t believe this is actually happening.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blessing of the tree

Every year around this time, Bethel produces a phenomenal Christmas show called ‘The Gift of Christmas’ (http://giftofchristmas.ca). And every year, I’m heavily involved in it. But not this year. When dad’s health started to take a turn for the worst (in September), it became obvious to Chelsea and I, and the leaders of the production, that my involvement this year would have to be limited. Between the hospital visits and family outings, there was no way I was going to be able to honour the commitment level necessary in order to perform in ‘The Tree’. It was such a difficult decision to make. However, I will admit... there was a very small amount of relief. Being involved in the tree takes so much effort. So many practices. To finally have a Christmas season where we weren’t hussling and bussling over the tree seemed, at the time, to be a blessing.

However, as the tree drew closer, Chelsea and I both began to miss the practices – miss all the hardwork and commitment. Its such a great production to be involved in. Not because it’s a good musical, but because it genuinely changes lives. Who doesn’t want to be a part of changing someone’s life for the better?
A few days before the first performance, I got a call from a friend asking if I was interested in being involved in the tree in a very small capacity. I jumped at the opportunity. Chelsea was excited as well.

It was so fantastic to be back at Bethel last night for the first time in a while. The amount of love and encouragement from all our friends was overwhelming. Chelsea and I were so thankful.

Today was amazing. The tree was a blast. Great reunions. But what blew my mind was the incredible generosity of our church family. See, Chelsea and I both had been secretly stressing about how we were going to pay for our stay in Toronto. But we both just figured, ‘God will provide’... and boy did he ever. Today alone, we received all the finances we need in order to stay in Toronto for a week.
God! You are as good! You know our prayers before we pray them! You always provide.

Thank you sooooo much Bethel for all your love, your support and your generosity! Honestly – we’re so overwhelmed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scared and Excited!

Visited dad yesterday (Wednesday) and today.

Wednesday, he was doing much better than on Mon/Tues. He was finally in his right mind. He admitted that he had a few pretty scary moments. One morning he woke up and couldn't remember anything. He was asking himself questions like, "What am I?", "Who am I?", "Do I belong to someone?". When he finally remembered Linda (his wife), he started to sob... he was relieved - but scared because he didn't know what was going on.

He said he didn't want to be left alone in the hospital for another night. "Its so scary here, son. I'm tellin ya - at night, they experiment on me." I was laughing out loud when he was telling me this. He had a grin as well because he knew it wasn't true - but its genuinely how he felt when he woke up. "Its like the freakin x-files!"

He also told me that on Tuesday afternoon, an instructor for a group of nursing students from Algonquin wanted to use dad as an example for changing a dressing for a chest tube. Dad said it was ok. He was with Becky at the time. Just as he saw the students about to enter, he asked Becky, "Becks, when they turn me over, should I fart as loud as I can?"

"Nooo no no no no no!" Becky insisted. They both had a pretty good laugh about it and were snickering during the procedure.

Just as they were finishing up the procedure, Dad yelled across the room, "How 'bout now, Becks?" They both laughed.

When I visited dad today, he was in his house coat, legs crossed, looking very comfortable. No IV, no catheter. Still has the chest tube, but its a smaller, more manageable tube then before. He can still walk around.

Chel and I brought him dinner - pineapple chicken stir fry on basmati rice. He loved it - thanks Chel!.

Man - its so great to see dad in a good mood. He has an energy in his voice that I haven't heard in months. It must be the blood transfusions he receives... they must really rejuvenate his system.

My dad was also thrilled when I told him that next Monday, December 15th is the official date for the transplant! Mom's ecstatic! She was really worried about dad. She's so glad to know everything is going to be alright!

Its so obvious that if this transplant doesn't happen soon, the next time he comes to ER might not end as well as this one. Every time he gets sick, he gets much more sick than the last.

So - here it is - this is the official posting. I'm 100% doing the transplant - its happening 99% on December 15th. It may happen earlier if dad gets worse. Or, if dad takes a miraculous turn for the better (very unlikely), we could postpone 'till January. But most likely, its going to be Dec 15th.

And I need to pass on this fantastic news. Thank you so much for all your prayers - they've really been answered! As some of you might have been able to tell from some of the posts last month, Chelsea and I were very sceptical about moving forward with the transplant. I'm telling you - we've both had a 180° turn. Chelsea and I both feel great about the decision to donate! I'm still a little nervous, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is going to be by my side every step of the way. And my wonderful wife will be there too!

Keep praying that God will guide the hands of the surgeons. Pray that Dad's body will fall in LOVE with my liver. Pray that my liver will be strong enough to fight off the HEP C virus that's been slowly killing him! Pray that we'll have a great Christmas in the Toronto General with the family.

~

I can't wait 'till this is all over! AHHH! I CAN'T WAIT to read back on this blog entry in particular with a massive, perfectly healed scar on my chest, half a liver and twice a dad and say, "Boooy... I am soooooooooo glad that's over!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another world

Just got back from visiting dad. He's on another planet. Not sure if its the pain meds, his infection or a build up of toxins in his body. But its becoming very obvious that this transplant has to go down soon.

Ever since I was honest with my parents about my fears regarding the transplant, both have been sceptacle about going through the procedure with me as the donor. When I visited dad last night, he repeated over and over that he the decision to go through with the transplant was totally up to me and that I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to. He was being so humble - especially for someone who will literally die if he doesn't get a transplant soon.

I replied to him, "Dad! Listen - if it were your dad who was dying, would you give him your liver?"

Dad started to cry and said, "Wow son - I would! I get it now! I get why you have to do this!"

When my sister arrived, my dad kept saying, "Becky - Josh woke me up! I've had a revelation!" He's really excited.

Please keep praying that my dad will stay healthy, that God will keep my nerves at bay and that God will give both Chelsea and mom strength and peace moving forward.

Taking Its Toll

Dad's doing ok. He has the catheter in his back draining fluid from his chest again. 1 litre a day. I was unaware that yesterday, the situation was looking really bad. Dad thought he was going to die - so did mom.

He's at the Civic, 5th floor - can't remember which room. Use the elevators furthest from ER (near Second Cup) and go to the 5th floor. Ask the nurses station for Brian Bloomfield.

I haven't been in contact with my transplant team yet - but there is some speculation amongst our family and the Ottawa doctors that the transplant date may need to be bumped up next week (currently tentatively booked for January 7th).

Mom's staying strong - but this situation has certainly dragged on for a long time and is taking its toll on everyone. We're excited for Dad to get better. I'm so excited to get my dad back!

He's been sick for so long that I've forgotten how he used to laugh and how his laugh used to make the rest of our family laugh even harder. I've forgotten how loving he is - how caring he is - he incredible he is. This illness has robbed my dad of his life for long enough. Can't wait to put this behind us.

God, thank you so much for taking care of dad! Please continue to watch over him in the hospital. And continue to give Chelsea and I peace about this decision. Thank you so much that everything is going to be ok! And thank you that your watching over Dad and I no matter what happens!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dad's in ER

Sorry again for not posting as often as I was. Life's been a little hectic. Rest assured, anytime something major goes down, I'll keep you posted (no pun intended),

A few updates...

I had my additional blood tests last week. They were testing for some bacteria (because of my acid reflux) and my white blood cell count (because I had a virus when I originally tested). Haven't got the results yet.

January 7th is still the tentative date of the transplant.

I'm feeling a lot better about everything - especially after a great dinner with my old youth pastor. Great company - and great advice.

Lastly, Becky just called. Dad's gone to ER. Chelsea and I visited him yesterday and he wasn't very responsive. A part of my thought that he must just be tired. But in reality, I knew he was going to need a trip to the ER in the next few days. I don't think he's been 'regular' the past few days and that's causing a build up of toxins in his system. This is a typical symptom of liver failure.

Chel and I are off to run a few errands and then spend time with dad at the hospital.

Please pray that this situation will resolve itself quickly and that Dad will stay healthy for the operation in early January.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just got back...

Sorry for the delay. Chelsea and I just got back from Vegas. Last week was hectic (getting ready for Vegas) so I didn't get a chance to post.

A few updates which I'll elaborate on later.
- my test results show that I'm a match and we're ready to move forward (pending a few other blood tests to check for minor things)
- surgery date as been postponed to Januray 7 (from Dec 8th)
- dad's doing well - He had a quick appointment in Toronto last week which was just a checkup. He also had his abdomen drained last Tuesday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fear of the unknown

Its been an interesting weekend.

The assessments last week were intense. When I got back home, I jumped right back into work mode and didn't really digest much of what happened. But the weight of everything really hit Chelsea and I this weekend. Lots of mixed emotions about the situation.

I visited mom and dad on Saturday afternoon. I shared my heart, my fears and my concerns. My poor mom... she is in such a unique position. A husband who will die without a liver transplant and a Son who's an eligible donor (we don't know for sure, yet) who she doesn't want to sacrifice.

It was a great visit - very transparent. We ended it with prayer - so appropriate. I think the bottom line is that we're all scared. My dad is so frightened. Sure we have faith that God will take care of us - but there's still the fear of the unknown... and for me, new experiences.

Anyway... we'll find out more about my eligibility on Tuesday. Until then, nothing is certain.

~

Dad has an appointment this week (I think Tuesday) to have his abdomen drained of excess fluid. This is great news. This means that my dad isn't making random ER visits like he was in October. He's able to make regular appointments to help manage the symptoms of liver failure. However - today, my dad did admit that he didn't know if he could wait 'till Tuesday as he is in a ton of pain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ink of the Holy Spirit!

The morning we left for Toronto (last Sunday), I needed to print some directions from google maps. But, I knew I was out of ink. A few weeks earlier, I tried printing a photo from our printer and no black ink was used. I was absolutely, positively sure we were out of ink. I can even show you the photo that I tried to print that didn't end up printing entirely because there was no ink.

I was pretty desperate for the directions to print. I thought to myself, "God, if you print these directions, I promise I'll post to the blog about the 'Ink of the Holy Spirit'."

Sure enough... the directions printed PERFECTLY! I'm talking PERFECT - not a single blemish - no indication at all that the printer was even low on ink!

INK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!

~

Dad's doing fine these days, by the way. He sounds alittle winded when I speak to him on the phone, but thats normal these days.

I'm supposed to get together with him and mom tomorrow for dinner and to discuss my assessments.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is heavy

The last day of assessments was a breeze. First appointment was for an abdominal ultrasound. They warmed up the gel before they lubed up the ultrasound-probe-thing. That was nice. Took about 20min.

Next was an appointment with a rando doctor who is unaffiliated with the Transplant program to get a completely unbiased outside opinion of my health. He quickly jumped on the heart murmur. He had me lie sideways, upside down, back, forward - listening to every little noise my heart made. He says that there's no question that I have a heart murmur.

All in all, he's pretty sure that the murmur will not affect my eligibility. However, it may have some long term implications on my health, unrelated to the transplant.

Last was the psychiatric evaluation. It wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. It basically consisted of questions like: "When did you first think about giving your liver?", "Do you feel pressured to?", "How would you feel if you were deemed ineligible?", "How would you feel if you were deemed eligible?", "How committed are you to this?", "Do you trust that the recipient will strictly follow the post-op procedures?" (failure to do so could jeopardize the success of the new organ), "How would you react if the recipient died after the transplant?"

It felt like a breeze at the time. And I answered the questions honestly... I didn't answer them to try and 'cheat' my assessment. I told her I was nervous about the whole thing. Voiced all my fears and concerns.

However, now that both Chel and I have had a few days to reflect back everything, we're both feeling overwhelmed. Before the assessment, I could go on with my everyday life - just putting the whole transplant out of mind. But now we can't stop thinking about it.

It's clear that this isn't a cut and dry decision anymore. This isn't like getting a tattoo or a piercing (as far as the physical procedure). This is giving someone half of your liver - your only liver. If something goes wrong with your only liver... well...

So how does faith play into my decision making? I had to ask myself this question a few days ago as I realized I hadn't given it much thought. What does God have to say about this?

As soon as I began to meditate on that thought, two points came to mind almost immediately.

A) What's life without love? One of Jesus' sidekicks, Paul, says that I could give all my possessions to the poor - but if I don't have love, it means nothing. (1 Corinthians 13)

B) What greater love then to give your life for another. (John 15:13)

~

When your so close to love, life and death - our existence on earth at its basic elements - you see the world the way it was supposed to be - with new eyes. I can finally see that we've (humans) got our priorities completely wrong.

Its all a facade. None of what you accumulate on earth is important. None of it. When your lying on a stretcher being wheeled into surgery to give half your liver away, your not thinking about how big your savings account is. Or how big your house is. All I'll be thinking about is how grateful I am to have a wife holding my hand and God holding my life.

~

What's the bigger leap of faith? Living a safe life - keeping half my liver - and knowing that I'm doing all I can to keep myself safe? Or laying my life on the line - giving half my liver - and trusting that God is doing all He can to keep me safe?

This is so heavy. This is heavier than anything I've ever had to carry.

Back safely

We arrived back in Ottawa safely around 10:40pm last night.

Yesterdays appointments went well. More talk of a heart murmur from another medical consultation. The abdominal ultra sound and the psychatric review both went well.

I'll fill you in with more detail when I have some time this evening.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reality check

Crazy day. We got to our first appointment at 9am. We met with one of the living donor surgeons.

The purpose of the appointment was to inform Chelsea and I with all blunt details of the procedure. By the end of that appointment, Chel and I both agreed that reality had finally set in. This is no longer a cut and dry decision (to donate my liver). There are so many considerations. For example - in the history of the world, this surgery (liver resection) has only been done in the last 20 years. That means that there's no definitive long-term information about the affects of this operation. What if I have half my liver removed - and 40 years down the road I develop some uncommon liver condition because of the resection? That's just one example of the many issues that were discussed. We left that appointment with a little less of a skip in our step... but still ready to continue with the assessments.

Just before we stepped out, I was given a new schedule of assessments for the day - including a new test... a heart echo.

The heart echo kind of surprised me... but not... I've always thought I had some sort of heart issue. Nothing in particular... its just been a feeling I had. I suspected that the echo was because the ECG showed something abnormal.

video
The echo was kind of fun. Great technician. He told me he thought I had a 'heart murmur'. But then he said 90% of people have a murmur. So no biggy.

After the echo, I had an appointment with a general practitioner. She was awesome! Super nice. Lots more reality checks. Great at answering our questions.

Last appointment was the MRI. It wasn't as bad as the CT. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being a CT and 0 being riding a bike, it was 3.7. I was strapped to a tray and slid into a super small cylindrical tube. I actually had my eyes closed for the entire procedure as I was afraid that if I saw how tiny the space was, I would become claustrophobic and panic. It lasted about 40min long. But no IV. Awesome.

All in all, it felt like a huge day. 2 huge appointments with doctors, an enlightening echo, and a 40min MRI. If I could sum it up in one word, its reality.

I'm not chickening out... but reality has set in.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Robo-Ray

Woo - what a jam packed day.

We were a few minutes late for our first appointment because Chelsea was busy on Facebook. But I wasn't paying attention either so its not all her fault.

None-the-less, we finally met the Transplant coordinator. She was incredibly nice. We met with her for about 30min. She explained what to expect during my assessments. It was pretty straight forward.

She reiterated that she is here for me - not for dad. Her primary job is to make sure my health comes first. She receives frequent updates from dad's doctors on dad's condition. As long as my dad's condition remains stable, everything should continue smoothly. At the moment, my dad has been assessed as a 90% success probability. As long as his probability for his success stays around 90%, and my assessments go well, I should be able to donate my liver.

If my dad's probability of success drops below 50%, my dad will become ineligible for living donor donation. This is because they don't want to risk the health of a healthy donor if the outcome for the recipient looks less than ideal.

Quick clarification - the success rate I've been referring to above is the success rate of the transplanted organ, not the recipient. So, if my dad has a 90% success probability, that means that the liver has a 90% chance of taking and operating properly. My dad's prognosis is separate.

Our convo was great and very uplifting... except for two things.

A - for the first 5 weeks after surgery, I have to inject myself with some insane anti coagulant drug. One of your liver's many functions includes managing your bloods 'clottability'. After half the liver is removed, its regrowth is extremely rapid and liver will over produce the chemicals in the blood that help your blood clot. This means my blood will become very thick. The injection I have to give myself will ensure my blood stays at a safe 'thickness'.

B - After the surgery I will have a catheter inserted all the way into my bladder! Baaaa... Not cool. Right after she said, "all the way to your bladder", I responded, "Wooo... that's quite a distance!" - simply referring to the fact that it was going into my bladder.

Her response? - "Wow! Good for you!" We all laughed pretty hard. If you don't get it, don't worry about it.

After that appointment, we made our way down to the CT dept. The CT will show the doctors my blood vessel structure and the size of my liver. I had no idea what I was in for. After some trouble with my 'blue' card (an internal hospital id card), I made my way to a waiting room where I had to change into one of those hospital gowns. I also had to read and sign a disclaimer. So I read it...

Intravenous ink injection!?!?! Hold up... I thought this was just an x-ray thingy. Not cool. But after a few minutes... (45min of waiting), I had a chance to calm down. Then my name finally got called.

I made my way into a large room with, what looked like, a less elaborate MRI machine. The nurse wasn't from Canada - I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I just listened to the tone of his voice and guessed as to whether to answer with, "yes", "no", or "oh really?". I layed down on a very thin, uncomfortable tray that barely fit my body.

The room was so cold (not temperature). It wasn't friendly or inviting. I started to get anxious.

Total transparency. Laying on the CT machine - knowing that I was about to get stabbed with an IV for the first time - knowing that I was going to have ink injected into my blood - knowing that there's nothing wrong with me - knowing that this whole procedure is voluntary - I actually said to myself, "I can't do this." Lip quiver. I seriously just about walked out of the room. I was so scared.

I can't remember how I got through that moment. But I did. I must have prayed or something. Maybe I thought about dad. I'm just so glad I went through it because in hindsight, it wasn't all that bad.

The IV wasn't cool. It hurt more than I thought it was going to. It was my first IV ever so that added to the fear. Then the nurse left me alone in the room with freakin Robo-Ray (the CT machine). It was freaky... no one telling me what was happening - no one to ask questions to.

Then all of a sudden, the tray I was laying on jolted forward. Of course, with my first IV, all I'm thinking about is the IV ripping out of my arm along with all my veins in my right arm. I was freaking out. Furthermore, I was told that when the die is injected into my body through the IV, I'd feel a weird warm feeling and then I'd taste and smell metal. So - it was just a big evil game of anticipation with Robo-Ray.

Tray moves some more... stuff starts spinning... Robo-Ray says (in a hot female robot voice), "Take a breathe in a hold it... (2 second pause)... and release". More tray moving... more spinning...

When's the freakin ink going to inject? When is this going to be over?

Then all of sudden I felt the IV stiffen against my arm - some weird fluid noises... still no metal taste... no sense of ink injection. Robo-Ray tells me to hold my breathe again. And release.

More tray moving.

Then... my whole chest went warm... then my head... then it felt like someone put some metal flavoured powder Koolaid in my face... I could taste and smell metal. I'm freaking out.

Robo-Ray asks me to hold my breathe again. But, all I'm thinking about is that I need to keep breathing oxygen because I don't want my blood to turn into liquid aluminum. But I held my breathe anyway.

Then it was over. I was freaking out. I thought I wasn't going to be able to stand. But I was fine. The nurse removed the IV fine. That felt great actually.

Then I left and drank three water bottles of water to drain Robo-Ray's ink from my system.

Next - X-ray. But when we got to the X-Ray dept, the wait was too long and would have interfered with my blood work appointment. So, we headed to out to get my blood work done instead.

I sat down for the blood work not OK with the fact that I had to get poked again. But I had a great technician. He drew 12 viles of blood! I was freaking out when I saw how many viles he had to take, but he did it in 60 seconds... no pain. He even used the same vein as the previous IV from the CT scan. Immediately after the blood work, I had an ECG (to monitor my heart). Then I peed in a cup.

Then I headed back to the Image Dept for my X-Ray which was a breeze.

Now here's the kicker. In my first appointment with the Transplant Coordinator, she actually said that if I felt comfortable, I could book a potential surgery date.

Ready for it? December 8th is the potential surgery date.

Next Tuesday, I will know the results of my tests and my surgery date will be confirmed or rescheduled.

Looking forward to getting these assessments over with. I'm glad the CT and Blood word is over with. Chel and I are very much enjoying our stay in Toronto. So great to finally relax.

Tomorrow: Surgical consultation, MRI and general practitioner.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Safe in TO

Chel and I arrived safely in Toronto today around 2pm. Yay for four hour car rides listening to old school New Kids on the Block while your wife is doing the original NKOTB dances in the front seat. Shoot me directly in the face.

Chillin at the Marriott Courtyard on Yonge Street. Sweet hotel. Great rate because I'm a patient at the hospital. But for some odd reason, the bathroom in our room is split up in such a way that you go to the bathroom in one corner of the room, and wash your hands in the other corner. Therefore, you have to walk across the entire room in order to wash your hands. So, we've adopted a procedure: after going to the bathroom, one must walk across the room with one's dirty hands in the air repeating audibly, "Unclean!" This ensures no dirty digits contaminate the room or either of us.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Overwhelmed

I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness. We've got such amazing friends! And such a wonderful God!

Today was an incredible day. Friends of ours dropped off a gift bag of goodies to help us on our trip to TO. Magazine's, snacks, Esso gift cards... so incredibly thoughtful! Chelsea cried. I'm so emotionless these days that I had a hard time expressing my thankfulness. I was so overwhelmed.

Moreover... We had my parents over for dinner where I delivered an envelope that was delivered to me from an anonymous donor. My parents could not stop sobbing with joy when they opened the anonymous envelope with $1000 in cash.

"I was so down on myself today," my mom said, crying. "But isn't God so good!".

It was so great to see them cry like that. It was as if they were yelling at the top of their lungs, "We're going to be alright!"... except with just some tears and a smile.

Whoever that was - my parents want you to know that they are so grateful for your sacrifice and your warm hearts!

~

I don't wish the situation I'm going through on anyone. However, God forbid a similar situation take place in the lives of any of you, Chel and I can't wait to show you the kind of love that has been shown to us! Can't wait!

I think the only thing better than receiving the kind of love we've received is having the chance to be the one giving that love.

Fruit Cake

Just got in from baking fruit cake with my dad and my Uncle Paul at the bakery. Dad didn't do any work - just bossed Paul and I around. It was fun. Started at 7am.

Best fruit cake in the city - Artistic Cake Design!

Funny story. Not sure if this is a symptom of liver failure, but my dad's sense of taste and smell are going wonky. When we walked into the bakery after the fruit cake had been baking for a few hours, it smelled incredible! But the first thing my dad says is, "It smells like cheese in here!". Poor dad! Believe me - I don't like fruit cake that much, but it did not smell like cheese in the bakery.

Not sure when I'm leaving for Toronto. I'd like to leave later today, but I'll most likely leave early tomorrow morning. I'll try my best to keep you all posted throughout my assessments.

Hopefully by this time next week, we'll have a surgery day booked!

God, please go before me during these assessments. Give me the will power to stay as healthy as I can for dad.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Seventeenth!

Talked to Dad last night. They got back around noonish.

Dad says the appointment was just a checkup. The doctors in Toronto want to stay on top of my dad's situation and stay apprised on any changes in his health.

My dad found out that he's number SEVENTEEN on the liver transplant list. The list has over three hundred names. The doctor said my dad's position on the list could change depending on my assessment as a living donor or the availability of a deceased liver that may not match other recipients higher on the list then dad.

Oh - I forgot to mention this earlier. My dad's actually been given a pager from the Toronto General Hospital. I didn't even know he had it until I saw it on the kitchen table last weekend. He must have received it the week prior. This pager will only be used to page dad the moment a liver is available. When the beeper goes off, my dad has only hours to get himself to Toronto for surgery. Pretty cool!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cell is off

I've been trying to get a hold of my parents but their cell phone is off. No updates.

However, I did just fire a link off to liverdie.com to a website called www.giftoflife.on.ca. They have a section of blogs. I asked if they'd be interested in posting the liverdie.com blog.

I think it would be fantastic for others who are going through a similar situation to be able to read a first hand experience. I know this blog has already touched many peoples lives - which is so amazing to hear. Hopefully it can make an even bigger impact.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the road

My parents are on the road to Toronto. They left this morning at 6am. My dad's appointment is today. I think the plan is to hit the appointment, then come home immediately after. But I'm not sure.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Just had a fantastic weekend with the family! My dad said, "[this weekend] was such good medicine... its still working even today!"

It all started last week when I realized my mom's birthday was drawing very close very quickly. I knew it was Nov 3 - but my dad was convinced it was on 'Sunday'. He was later proved wrong and felt like an idiot for messing up his wife's 60th b-day. None-the-less, we celebrated her birthday on the Sunday as it was the only day the whole family could get together.

As her birthday drew closer, I began to realize how critical it was that I put all the energy I could into making sure my mom's birthday was all about her! Its her big day. During a time when life isn't being too kind, I needed to make sure she had a day that would guarantee her to smile and to have a light heart.

Then during the planning, I realized that with my assessments so close, this might actually be one of the last times we as a family could hang out together. Heck - with my dad's current condition, any family get together could be our last. Thats it! Family nights way more often then just birthdays. Once a week at least!

We surprised my mom at 8am with flowers and an offer to either make breakfast for her or to go out to a restaurant of her choice. She was so surprised! I could tell by the look on her face that she was not expecting it. She choose to grab some breakfast at PJ Quigley's (Greenbank Plaza, across from Woodvale).

Before we left for breakfast, mom insisted on giving my dad a gift that she's been waiting a few days to give him. It was no occasion for my dad - she just wanted to surprise him with something.

A few years ago, my parents enjoyed their first all-inclusive tropical getaway to the Dominican Republic. During their stay, my dad bought two canvases (canvasi?) of local art that he loved. They've been sitting in their basement now for a few years getting wrinkled and dusty. My mom had the canvases stretched and framed.

My dad was truly surprised and loved it. Although the day was supposed to be all about mom, it was still a fantastic way to start the day.

We arrived at the restaurant for breakfast and enjoyed a great meal together. It was so good to be together as a family - we don't do it often enough. My mom kept saying throughout the meal, "I still can't believe I'm sitting here with you guys! What a surprise!"

Then came the moment us kids had all been waiting for. The four of us (Becky, James, Chelsea and I) all chipped in and bought her an Acer One Netbook (laptop). If you haven't seen one already, they work just like a normal laptop, but they are just a bit bigger than a reader's digest. Coolest thing ever. We wanted to make sure it was small enough to fit in her purse and easy for her to use when she needs to work and check her email.

Anyway, somehow, James slipped the laptop into her purse when she wasn't paying attention. When my brother gave me the signal that the laptop was in place, I asked mom, "Hey mom, you got a pen?" She always does - in her purse.

To our surprise, she actually dug around in her purse for a solid twenty seconds searching for the pen before she finally gasped with excitement. We knew right then that we had nailed her birthday gift.

She was sooooo excited! I haven't seen her this excited and happy in so long. Soooo good to see!

Just as we were about to leave, we bumped into some long-lost family! It was great to see them! They are also struggling with a health crisis of their own, in fact. It was great to encourage each other. Please, keep them in your prayers as well.

After breakfast, my parents went home for a few hours. My dad needed to take a nap. He seems to be constantly exhausted. My mom wanted to walk off breakfast. James and Becky headed home with Chelsea to start cooking a delicious feast for dinner - some crazy chicken pot roast.

I have to take a moment to publicly acknowledge the bomb that is my wife. She slaved all day preparing an amazing dinner - all for my family. Sweetheart - I can't even tell you how much that meant to me!

My parents made their way over to our house at 3pm. There was a cake waiting with a card from the girls at the bakery (Artistic Cake Design). She loved it. We spent a few minutes talking. I suggested my parents chill in our TV room and watch a movie - so they did.

My dad kept saying, "Your house is so beautiful - I need to come her more often! Its so relaxing."

Dinner was finally ready around 5:30pm - and boy was it worth waiting for. We ate like kings (and queens) and enjoyed each other's company.

What a great freakin weekend.

Dad called today and reiterated how much he loved our weekend and how important it was to him that we do it more often.

My dad's growing frustration with his situation makes it more and more difficult to bring a smile to his face. It was great to hear him sound so happy.

~

Just want to say how wonderful it is that so many people are following my dad's story! I bumped into an old friend-of-mine's mom on the weekend - a very unexpected and delightful surprise. We couldn't spend too much time catching up. In the few minutes we had together, she mentioned that she was following my dad's story on the blog. I was blown away. I asked her how she found out about it. Her reply was, "I think it was the facebook". I love parents. It was fantastic seeing you, Mrs T! Really encouraging! G & S - I'm honoured that you'd read the blog. Thanks so much for keeping up with the blog and for your prayers.

And to all of you who silently read this blog and think/pray for my family, and I know there are many of you because I can feel your support in so many ways, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

~

Currently, dad's doing ok. Even after the doctors drained 6 litres of fluid from his abdomen last week, his stomach is still huge and he's in a lot of pain.

I was unaware of this - but dad actually has an appointment this Wednesday in Toronto. He'll be staying with my Aunt Gail in downtown Toronto - just eight blocks from the hospital. I think the appointment is just a checkup. He has two more of these appointments the two Wednesday's following. Lots of driving coming up.

~

Happy Birthday Mom! Next year - Punta Cana! And no - dad didn't ask me to write that.