Monday, November 10, 2008


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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to hear a date has been set! You're a great son Josh.