Wednesday, January 28, 2009

All my liver levels are good

Blasted flu. I didn't sleep at all last night. Just puked every hour on the hour.

I feel a bit better today. Still queezy. And I woke up with some killer pain in my abs. I think I pulled a muscle or something. The doctor warned me that my healing muscles are more susceptible to pulls.

Just heard from dad. He has an appointment at the Toronto General today. Doctors say that all his liver levels are above average! So my liver is doing very well in dad.

The swelling is still an issue. But the doctors say that its normal. It will take a few months before dad's eating, sleeping, and exercise routines get back to normal. At that point, the swelling should be gone.

All-in-all, the doctors think my dad is doing great. He could be back in Ottawa as early as next week. I'm not sure if that's perma, or just for a visit. If he does come home, he will still have rehab here in Ottawa for a few months.

He has another appointment next week where he will find out if he can come home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Puke

Chelsea here.

Josh wanted me to let you all know he is over the toilet puking his liver out.

Don't worry, just the flu!

My brother and his family all had it a few days ago, then on Saturday his wife Ali(who is seriously super woman!) went into labour! While they were at the hospital for a few days all the family members took turns looking after their son Sawyer...and we all left with their flu.

When it first hit Josh this morning, he was really worried about his liver area hurting if he puked. He tried really hard to hold it in all afternoon, but the flu ended up winning. Good thing is he says it doesn't hurt. With yesterday being his last injection, wasn't the suffering for Josh supposed to finally be over?!

He just told me though that being there all weekend with Sawyer and the fam was definitly worth it!

Welcome Levi Victor Benjamin Hebbs! born January 24, 2009 weighing 7lb 9oz.Look how cute he is! I think he's totally worth it!

I must go tend to my hubby now.
There are some nasty things happening while I write...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Last injection

So - not only did the doctor say that I'm 100% back to my normal self (last Thursday), I took my last injection today.

You'd think I'd be happy about this... and 95% of me is. But theres a small part that's sad that its all over. The injection was a daily reminder of what I did for dad... and I don't ever want to forget. Ever.

So, now I'm really back to life as it was before the transplant. I'm even walking straight again, sleeping any which way I like, and eating whatever. Just like that.

I still can't believe I did it.

I didn't think I was going to do it. I honestly thought, "Well, the right thing to do is to tell my dad that I'll donate my liver... because I'm his son... but I know God will protect me! somehow making sure I actually don't have to do it because he knows how scared I'd be to actually do it."

Seriously... as each day passed and I began to realize, "Wait a tick... this operation looks like its going to be a go!". I (and I'm sure Chel) still had hope that my dad would somehow receive a deceased liver or that some medical complication on my end would prevent me from being a candidate. In fact, when Chel and I found out about my heart murmur, we didn't admit it to each other but I know we were both hoping it would make me ineligible for the operation. We were both so scared.

But this whole story has turned out to be a testament of God's amazing grace and goodness.

Let me ask you something... how can you be a true believer in God if you've never tested your faith in his existence? I mean - you can't believe in someone you don't actually think exists, right?

And for those of you who think you believe in God... how can you know his love and promises are true until you've believed them to the core of your being... enough so to test them in your every day life?

I put my faith to the test.

Christ! I know your with me! You've always been with me. But now, I need you more than ever. I'm so scared. Please Lord - be with me... protect me...

I prayed that prayer as soon as they rolled me into the operating room.

Never did I feel any pain. Never did I feel scared. In fact, during my time in the recovery room, I asked Chelsea, "Who is that black woman in the room?" But Chel didn't see anyone. This is going to sound super retarded to a few of you but I don't care... I felt an overwhelming sense of love and peace from that person. Judge for yourself who/what it may have been.

It doesn't take a liver transplant to have faith. Maybe just an overdue bill... a broken family relationship... a stressful job.

Anyway - that was a rando tangent. Point is... I'm so glad I overcame my fear. And those morning injections were a reminder of how this whole thing has impacted my love for God and my love for you all. And I don't ever want to lose what I gained.

Weird to say that I gained something when I physically lost something pretty major.

Love is the way of the future. True love at any cost. Love and transparency. Transparency - that's a topic for another time.

I'll post more down the road about the impact this has had on my life. I also never posted the details of my time in the hospital from my point of view. I'll get around to that as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Visit with the family

I received an email today from my cousin Paul in Toronto. He, his wife and his kids paid my dad a visit.

I'm always so blessed when family/friends visit dad. Its really hard for Becky, James and I to be seperated from mom and dad during such a difficult time. But its great to know that there are friends and family holding the line for us.

Here's what my cousin Paul wrote...


We decided to see how many people we could fit in your dad's room... Gail, Julia, Jill, Alex and I... along with Bill (his roomy). We had a great visit and he's getting around really well. Jilly decided your dad needed something to keep his mind busy so she brought her Gameboy Advance and left it with him along with a couple of games. Apparently he loves Tetris we will make sure that is dropped off as well.

Just thought you might enjoy a couple of the pics we took.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The picture made it all worth while

What a day. My first appointment was at 1pm so we left with plenty of time to spare - 7am. We used the parents SUV because I haven't had a chance to put the winter tires on my civic.

Great ride there. We arrived around 11am. Instead of waiting for my 1pm appointment time, I thought I'd just pop in and see if I could get my tests done earlier... and I did.

It was done my first appointment by noonish and my next appointment wasn't 'till 2:20pm. So, we figured that it would be a great time to visit dad. He was supposed to only be 24min away (said Google Maps).

I'm not sure if I should be mad at Google Maps for saying it was going to only take 24min... or if I'm mad at Toronto because it was only supposed to take 24min. Either way - it took 1 hour and change to get there. We arrive around 1:20. And all Chelsea could think about was how we'd miss our 2:20pm appointment if we didn't turn back asap. But we had to visit dad. So - we threw caution to the wind.

Boy... all this time I've been telling you guys how great dad is doing. But, these pictures tell a different story. He is doing well - he's in good spirits most of the time, he can walk and he has a bit of energy.

But I have no idea whats up with all this bloating. He's HUGE from the diaphragm down, but skin and bone from the diaphragm up.

So whats his prognosis? I'm not to sure to be honest. The doctors say that the bloating will come down in time. My dad needs to exercises and eat more. He's prepared to be in Toronto for another 2-3 months.

Click for more pics of our visit with dad.

My uncle Paul got him a Sens jersey. My dad was so surprised. He loved it! None of us have any idea who its signed by - but its still boss! Thanks a million, Uncle Paul!

Our visit was very short - like 11min. We had to jet back to the hospital if we were going to make it back for 2:20pm.

We arrived at the Toronto general at 2:35pm... 15min late. I rushed to the appointment. When I told the receptionist I was late, she said, "Don't worry... Dr Greig is running late today." Sweet...

It felt like we were sitting in that waiting room for hours. The doctor didn't see us 'till 4:20pm. To pass the time, we played a Marital Quiz... we'd think up questions that we didn't think the other would know the answer to. I lost.

When the doctor arrived, he was really nice. To be honest - the dude saved my dad's life. He can be as late as he wants.

He asked a bunch of questions - 'How's your eating?' 'Are you gaining wait back?' All my answers were standard issue. He was really pleased with my recovery. He took a look at my scar - felt around. He was happy. My scar is very stiff when you touch it - apparently this means its healing very well.

Then he said, "Your 90% healed. The last 10% will take place over the next year. The scar will soften, the pink will fade, and the muscles will regain their strength. At this point, I'm saying that you no longer have any diet restrictions or activity restrictions. Your officially back to life as it was before the surgery."

He said that IN FRONT of Chelsea... and now I'm saying it on the blog... for the whole world to read... BLAST! So - I guess the sympathy dinners/baked-goods/laneway shovelling has come to an end. Chel won't even pass me a towel from across the room... she tells me to get it myself.

Even on my way out of the appointment, Dr Greig saw me slouching slightly. He barked at me, with a smile, "Hey now! Straighten up!"

After explaining that I have no reason to be a big-baby anymore, he pulled up a report on his computer of all my blood work since my assessments in November. It was so cool! You could see all my blood/liver levels were totally normal until the week of the operation. All the numbers that were supposed to read low were reading high and vice-versa. It was insane. Numbers that were supposed to be 5 were reading 58. Included in the tests were the results from my blood work that morning. It was so cool to see EVERY SINGLE TEST (except 2) were COMPLETELY back to normal. The two that weren't normal are very close to normal and its very obvious that they're on their way back to being normal.

Just before we left, I asked, "SO - you have any pictures for me?"

"Follow me", he replied.

Boooo yah!

You can click to see the bigger version.

These pictures are so boss! Now, there were supposed to be 5 pictures taken: 1-my liver before the operation; 2-my liver cut in half; 3-the remaining part of my liver before I was sown up; 4-my dads liver before the transplant; 5-my liver in dad. Unfortunately, only 3 pictures were taken - and all of them are of my liver before the operation. Oh well.

I've included a nice little diagram so I can explain all the details.

We'll start with the diaphragm and go clock wise.

Diaphragm is immediately below your rib cage. Its the muscle thingy that expands your lungs so you can breath. During the operation, that was expanding and contracting with the ventilator.

That white piece of whatever is a tendon that held my liver in place. It makes it look like my liver is two separate organs. The tendon connected to my chest, near my ribs and held my liver close to my ribs. Its been cut before this picture was taken. As a result, my liver is resting on the organs in my abdomen (just for the picture).

Awesome is the wicked incision... no blood... just a cross section of my skin. So cool.

Stomach - that's were the pizza goes.

Gallbladder - I don't have this anymore. It was removed during the operation. If you were to turn the liver upside down, you'd see all the 'wires' that connect the liver to my body... a network of veins/arteries supplying the blood, and a network of ducts (look like veins) that carry bile away from my liver. The ducts meet in a central duct (a really big vein) which transports the bile to my intestines to help digest certain fats. Just as that big central bile duct is leaving my liver, there's this little room to the left that stores up extra bile... the gallbladder. I'm not sure why it has to be removed... but its gone and I'm still here.


Iodine to sterilize my skin before the incision.

Muscle - that's the underside of my 8 pack. Yah that's right - 8.

"Josh - its so clean!"

I know! I think my liver showers more often then I do.

"There's no blood!"

Crazy eh! They said that I barely bled at all... above average.

I sent an email with the picture in it to a few close friends as soon as I got home because I knew they were curious. My buddy Jeremy replied with this attachment and the caption, "Listeria?"


I can't believe its over! Woooooow!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trip to Toronto

Dad's been shipped back to rehab as of yesterday. His new digits are:

416-226-6780 ext 1241

He's doing better than he was when he left rehab for the hospital. But he's generally in low spirits because he misses his family and he's frustrated at the length of his recovery.

Chelsea and I are off to Toronto tomorrow morning headed for the Toronto General hospital. I have my 1 month checkup appointment with my surgeon. I'm hoping to get the photos of the surgery from him as well. CRAZY!

Pray for a safe trip.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Family Night

Tonight was great.

The weekend before my dad took ill in late November, we as a family decided to start a tradition that was long overdue - family night. We agreed that every Sunday afternoon or night would be dinner, games and a movie at our place.

The first weekend we did it was amazing. So therapeutic. Chelsea says that she's never seen a family laugh so much together. I'm not sure why we laugh so much - but we do.

Since the operation, Becky, James and I haven't seen much of each other. So we decided to get together today and continue the family night tradition even though mom and dad aren't here to share it with us.

We picked up some fajita making supplies and a movie.

Just before dinner, we thought we'd get mom and dad on speaker phone and see how their doing. Mom and dad weren't together at the time so we had to make to separate calls. First was dad.

He was soooo happy to hear from his kids. He said, "I miss you guys so much. I try not to think about you guys to much because if I do, I'm afraid I'll fall apart." THAT was so hard to hear. We miss dad so much!

So - Chel and I have an appointment this Thursday in Toronto. We're trying to convince James and Becky into taking the day off and surprising mom and dad in Toronto. It would be so amazing! It would really lift dad's spirits.

Dad's doing well. He's realized that he's still very sick and he's willing to be more patient and realistic about his recovery. Whatever was wrong with him when he left St Johns Rehab has corrected itself and the plan is for dad to head back to rehab tomorrow.

After the call with dad, we called mom. She's doing great. She was so happy to hear that her kids were getting together and continuing the family night tradition. "It brings joy to my heart!" were her words.

Family night - so key. So important to remember what's most important in life. Love. Love God and Love People.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dad's request

Dad called a few hours ago and wanted me to ask you all to pray for him. He's really down. The hospital is a pretty depressing place to be. He really misses his family and all his Ottawa friends.

No updates from the doctors on his condition. Hopefully we'll get an update tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Dad's in the Toronto General Hospital, Floor 7B, Room 106, Bed 1. Don't try calling him. He can't be reached by phone at the moment.

So, as a first course of action, the nurses tried inserting a catheter to help dad go to the bathroom. It was very painful for him. And in the end, all that dad was able to pass were small dried blod clots. Something is definitely not right. The doctors will be in soon to run many a test to get to the bottom of the situation.

Keep praying.

Dad's back in the hospital... not this again...

Just got a call from mom 2 min ago. Dad's being rushed to the nearest hospital.

Prayer time.

Since the operation, dad has accumulated a lot of fluid below his stomach (including his groin, legs and feet). He's also been complaining about his trips to the bathroom.

Finally, today my dad asked to see a specialist. When the specialist took one look at the extent of the bloating, she immediately suggested he be taken to a hospital for further examination.

Dad's pretty discouraged. He's trying so hard to get better. I'm sure it doesn't help him to see me doing so well. He probably asks himself, "Why is my son back to life as usual, but I'm still so sick?"

Dad's got to stop thinking that he's recovering from a minor operation. He needs to realize that he's recovering from a fatal illness that required one of his organs to be replaced. His recovery is going to be a much longer process than mine.

And this definitely isn't taking a step back. My dad has come SO far from where he was before the surgery. He's doing so much better. This is just a bump in the road.

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted as I get info from my mom and dad on the situation.

God - keep my dad's spirits up. Remind him that your in charge and that you're looking after him. You always have. Give the doctors wisdom and knowledge to come to a quick diagnosis.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More pics

I was finally able to get my hands on the pictures from my sisters camera. WARNING - There are some pretty rough photos of dad. Just a heads up. No blood and guts... just dad looking pretty crappy.

Dad is doing great. Just tried to call him but I couldn't get through.

My dad used to struggle with some pretty depressing thoughts in the evening, during his earlier recovery in the Toronto General. But, since he's been in St John's rehab, my dad's recovery has gone much better - and his depression is completely gone.

My mom and dad both believe its because this rehab hospital is covered with some Holy Spirit power. The entire organization is Christian run. All nuns. They pray for the patients, have healing chapel services, and even take the patients to church on Sundays. Its done wonders for my dad's recovery.

My recovery is going well - despite my cold/flu. It doesn't hurt so much to sneeze anymore.

WEIRD though - I started applying some vitamin E oil on my scar to help it heal better. Well, last night I noticed weird pimply looking bumps on my scar. I thought they were pimples. Chel said, "No no... its nothing"... then proceeded to be grossed out by my wicked awesome scar.

Today while I was working, one of these 'pimples' started to bleed. It was sick. No pain. Anyway, needless to say, I've stopped with the vitamin E crap.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It hurts to sneeze!

Somehow, I got caught the cold/flu thing going around. Not fun. It hurts to sneeze.

Dad's extension has changed at the rehab hospital.

416-226-6780 ext. 1541

Dad is doing so great! He has an appointment on the 21st. I have appointments on the 22nd. We should both be home in Ottawa on the 23rd. We should have a big party or something.

I was able to get my hands on more photos of the transplant. I'll post them this evening. I still don't have the photos from the surgery itself. But rest assured... you'll all be the first to see them as soon as I get them. I should get them on my appointment on the 22nd.

Hope you're all doing well and having a great 2009 so far!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New number

416-226-6780 ext. 3282

Spoke with dad last night. He says this new facility he's at is from the 1930's... its pretty old.

Anyway, he's doing well. Give him a shout and encourage him!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Just got off the phone with mom. Mom and dad are in a 'trans-ambulance' at this very moment being transferred from the Toronto General to St Johns Rehab.

Please note - dad can not be contacted at the Toronto General any longer. I will post a new number if one becomes available.

More info to come.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rehab tomorrow!

Just got a call from dad. He's been calling me collect for the past few days because he can't make long distance calls from his room. But someone got him a calling card so he can finally make proper calls now from his room.

Doctors gave him the a-ok today to go to rehab. He leaves tomorrow for St Johns Rehab in Willowdale, Toronto.

St Johns Rehab
285 Cummer Ave
Toronto, On
M2M 2G1

Main line: 416-226-6780

It hasn't been determined how long he'll be there. Might be 4-5 days. Might be 2 weeks. It all depends on how he progresses. After rehab, he'll probably have a few appointments back at the hospital and he probably won't be allowed to leave Toronto. But none of that is concrete.

Things are progressing well! Thanks again for all your prayers!

I'm so glad my dad's alive! I'm so glad my dad is happy and high on life! I'm so glad I took a hit for the team!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm not out of Afghanistan yet...

Dad's doing great! Ever since I published his phone number, my dad has received call after call after call from family, church friends and old friends from school. Its been insane! My dad is so encouraged.

Last I talked to dad (yesterday), he was doing better. He says his mind is still a little loopy, but other than that, things are progressing well. He's getting more strength to lift himself, stand and walk. I haven't spoken with him today so I'm unsure how he's doing at the exact moment. The plan was for dad to head to rehab by next week. However, he's not going anywhere until he can stand and walk on his own.

Thank you so much to all of you who've been following the blog. You would not BELIEVE the amount of attention the blog has received. I originally intended this blog to be a tool for me to keep close friends and family updated on our situation so I didn't have to update each of them individually. As word spread about the blog, it grew into something much more - and only by God's power because I certainly didn't intend for the blog to start touching so many lives.

Before the surgery, the blog received around 40 hits a day. The week of the surgery and following the surgery, the site averaged over 180 hits per day, maxing at 230 hits on the 18th of December. And we're talking about hits from Australia, the UK, Africa and the US. I gotta give a shout out to all you in Arizona for the unprecedented amount of hits... I have NO idea who you are. I certain don't know anyone personally in Arizona. But your interest in the blog and in our family is so appreciated.

Everyone, thank you so much for all your thoughts in prayers. Through the blog, we've received over 125 loving comments and many many more through email and Facebook. Its so overwhelming.

One day, I hope to publish this blog. I'd also love to collect all the love notes you've poured on to us and include them as well. One day... when this story is finally over.

Until then, please keep praying for my safe recovery. Though the worst is hopefully over, I'm not out of the woods yet.


Out of the woods... what does that even mean? Was I in the woods at one point during this whole ordeal? And since when is a forest a bad place to be? I like forests and trees. I'd prefer... I'm not out of the lake-of-magma yet. A lake of magma seems a lot worse than the woods. Or Afghanistan. I'm not out of Afghanistan yet.

I'm not sure if that was appropriate but Chelsea's asleep and can't proof read this post before I publish it.


I have another appointment on Jan 22nd to confirm everything is going well. There are many more check ups to follow, including ultrasounds and MRIs to ensure everything is healing properly. The biggest concern right now is blog clots and hernias. Please pray that God will protect me from both. I'm keeping my end of the deal - I haven't missed an injection and I'm doing very little lifting.

Also, pray for dad's recovery. Pray that my liver will be accepted. The liver transplant isn't a magical process where my liver is accepted over night. My dad's body could decide in 6 months or 5 years from now that it doesn't like my liver anymore. So continue to pray for that. My dad has also developed diabetes from the cocktail of drugs he has been exposed to post-op. The doctors say that he'll be on insulin for the rest of his life. The doctors can say whatever they want... doesn't change that God's in control. Pray that God will completely heal him of his diabetes and that my dad can finally live a completely new life - free from any sickness at all.

Love you all so much.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


416-340-3131 ext 7363 - !!NUMBER NO LONGER IN SERVICE!!

CALL DAD! He's alone in Toronto until Sunday. He's doing better, but emotionally, he's very low. Call him and encourage him! Tell him how great he's doing! Ask lots of questions and keep him on the phone. He needs to hear all your encouragement.

Mom left Toronto yesterday and his now home squaring up some stuff with the business for the new year. She'll be on the road back to Toronto on Sunday AM.

My recovery is going well. I'm still walking a little crooked and I can't sleep completely on my back. I can only sleep on my side or on my back with pillows to keep me elevated. My incesion is healing well. Chel and I discovered that I actually have a massive gap on the left side of my chest where my liver used to be.

It feels so weird. I can feel that somethings missing... I think that's why I walk weird.

I just finished collecting all the pictures from our two camera's. I've made an album for you all to see how our experience unfolded. I've added lots of captions to help tell the story. My sister still has many photos on her camera which I still need to get. There are also some videos that I'll post shortly.

Don't forget - call dad!