Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gadolinium, anyone?

So today, I had the distinct pleasure of being shoved inside an MRI machine for nearly two freaking hours.  I had an MRV (MRI of my veins, the renal veins to be more specific).  From what I was told by the radiology tech, and from the information I read, this test should have taken about 45 minutes at most.  Guess this process just can't go smoothly at any step of the way, can it?  The garage I normally park in was closed for permit parking only when I got there, only to open when I walked past it to my appointment (I parked 3 blocks away), I was sent to the wrong radiology office by both the transplant clinic and radiology admitting (I asked twice where I was supposed to go) which cause me to be late for my appointment.  I was fortunate enough to get a tech who knew how to place my I.V.  No bruises or blown veins for me!  Hell, I barely have a mark on my arm!!!  She saw the remnants of the bruises that Wonder Tech left more than a month ago, and asked what happened.  I vaguely explained, and she just shook her head.  After the I.V. was in, I almost hugged her.  Just the fact that she didn't try to install a garden hose into the crook of my elbow was the highlight of the whole experience.  I was led into the MRI suite and brought over to the machine.  I laid on the ridiculously skinny table, got hooked up to the contrast injection machine, swaddled in a sheet to keep my arms next to me, and covered with the MRI antennae.  These are the grids that they place over the area being examined.  I had two; one over my chest, one over my abdomen and pelvis.  The tech set me up with headphones and then we were off.  I was placed in the machine and shortly after, the test began.  I swear, an MRI of any region between your chin and thighs should be considered a cardio workout; there are lots of "Take a deep breath and hold it" and "Okay breathe".  Holding your breath for 20 seconds at a stretch, for multiple images.  This becomes difficult with approximately 10 pounds of stuff laying across your chest and belly.  This went on for about 40 minutes before there was an abrupt halt to the activity.  Apparently the radiologist decided to briefly review my films mid-exam.  When the scan resumed, I was given the contrast.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you've never had the contrast for and MRI, it is a freaking weird experience.  With a CT scan, the contrast makes you feel incredibly warm for a few seconds, and then you feel like you've peed your pants.  The MRI contrast, however, made me feel so weird, it scared me for a hot second.  I got the tell-tale metallic taste in my mouth, right before it got a tingly feeling in the back of my throat, all the way down my spine and in parts better left undescribed.  It went away after a minute or two (kind of hard to judge time when your face is 3 inches from the inside of the tube).  The test went on, and I then I felt a hand on my foot.  The tech pulled me out of the machine and told me that the radiologist wanted to review the new scans before he let me go.  A few minutes later, the tech came back and released me from my swaddling.  He removed my I.V., said that the scans would be officially read by the end of the day.  I thanked him and beat feet out of there.  Got home, snuggled my baby boy, and shared a turkey sandwich with him.

I was hoping that the scans would be posted online to my imaging account tonight, but alas they aren't.  I also haven't heard from the Transplant team as to the results; I'm quite sure they will be going over these scans with a very fine-toothed comb, lest they miss something like they did last time.  We are on our one-month countdown again.  I really hope that there are no major hiccups this time around.

All for now.  Goodnight!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Some news...

One of J's surgeons just called me.  On a saturday.  As soon as he said his name, my internal anxiety meter hit eleventy billion jigawatts.  He's a super nice guy, but he scared the hell out of me!  I was waiting to hear "you're no longer a viable candidate because of your screwed up veins", but heard instead, "I'm so sorry to call you on a Saturday,  how are you this morning?".  He apologized profusely for the shenanigans that ensued in February, and asked if I was still interested in donating.  I shocked the pajama pants off him when I said yes.  He actually said, "I'm genuinely surprised, given the events surrounding the postponement of the original surgery.  You are a wonderful person for still wanting to do this."  *TEAR* 
Anywho... so we discussed my funky veins again, and what we needed to do.  He want me to go for one last test, to get a clearer picture of the veins coming out of and surrounding both of my kidneys.  The CT Angiogram focuses on, you guessed it, arteries.  By the time the contrast hits the veins, it's fairly diluted so the veins don't show up very clearly.  The MRV (magnetic resonance venography) focuses on the veins.  It is, as described, just like an MRI.  If you've never had one, just imagine sitting inside a drum set, like actually inside the drums, for an hour and a half or so.  Throw in the occasional machine gun fire and there you have it.  Strangely, the noise doesn't bother me, nor do I get that all-too-common claustrophobia.  I have been known to fall asleep during MRI's.  What can I say; I'm strange.  Anyway, hopefully we can get this done sometime this week, and get on with this transplant.  May 2nd is our new planned date; it would be really nice if we could get this done, on schedule,  with as little b.s. as possible. 

Till next time!  :-)

Monday, March 10, 2014

No news...

I'm really only updating because tens of people have asked if there is any news; i assure you that after I alert the media, call my family and closest friends, update my Facebook status, post a Tweet, and post a picture on Instagram, you all are the first people to know!  Promise!!!  I'm still in a holding pattern; J had labs drawn in preparation for the first of his bi-weekly visits to the surgeon.  In the interim, we have made a plan to go to the gym at least twice a week, I have gotten him plugged into My Fitness Pal and wearing a FitBit to help him get on a path to better health before the surgery.  If I'm to be blatantly honest, I am using the gym as a tool for distraction as much as for weight loss and fitness.  I can go into the gym, pop in my earbuds, blast what ever music I'm in the mood for (usually something loud and fast), and run my ass off on the treadmill or elliptical.  I can escape for an hour and think of nothing but hitting that next mile on the display.  It has also provided a great outlet for the anger and frustration I have felt for the last two weeks about the postponement of the surgery.  If nothing else, I'll go back to the OR with a sweet 6-pack.  See, there are positives to every situation.

Okay ladies and gents, off to bed for the night.   

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today Really Sucked!

Like REALLY sucked.  We got to the hospital at 5:45 this morning to get checked in and prepped.  After J and I go through all the formalities of registration and the nurses' questions, we each get changed into our high-fashion hospital gowns, slippers, and hats.  I love hospital couture, by the way.  I find it so light and airy!  This is where the morning starts to go to hell in the proverbial handbasket.  J and I are sharing a pre-op room and techs, but have separate nurses.  While one tech is taking his admission vital signs, the other is butchering my arm in a severely botched attempt at placing an IV.  I am not joking about this; it took every ounce of severely depleted restraint I had to not punch this woman in the face as she stuck me the first time with a way too big IV way too agressively, pushed it through the vein so hard that she blew it, and watched as blood not only poured from said mangled vein onto my arm, but collected under the skin and formed a beautiful golf-ball sized lump.  I told her as nicely as I could to get the damn thing out of my arm because it hurt, a lot.  She said "Oh, I guess it does, it's a little puffy."  YA THINK?!?!  She kind of moseyed over to the other side of the bed and mumbled something about having to try again with a smaller gauge needle.  I was not very gracious in my thanks for that.  While Wonder Tech #1 is setting up for IV attempt Part Deux, her dusty, trusty sidekick shuffles over to get my vital signs.  Having heard her arguing with J about his blood pressure and last food intake and whatnot, I was less than impressed before she showed her face on my side of the curtain.  My disdain with her was only solidified when she proceeded to argue with me about keeping my swollen, painful arm still so she could get a good blood pressure reading on me while her cohort fished for a vein in my other arm.  I seriously contemplated head-butting her for a split second, if only to shut her the hell up!  When the Crypt Keeper tech finally finished her business in our room, she scuttled away, never to be seen again.  Wonder Tech then went to J's side of the room and tortured him with not one, not two, but THREE attempts to get a good line.  Poor guy was dehydrated because of our NPO (nothing by mouth) status as of midnight, as well as the tremendously unpleasant bowel prep he had to do (I was spared this particular torture, I may not be so lucky soon.  More on that to come.).  He is also not a fan of needles, and by the end of this involuntary piercing festival, was as pale as the sheet on his bed.  

After reading about this little adventure, I'm sure you're asking yourself "What a morning!  I'm sure surgery was a breeze!"  Nope.  NOPE, NOPE, NOPE!  If you've never had surgery before, let me break this part down for you really quick.  After answering a ton of questions that you've answered a million times before for your pre-op nurse, you get your IV placed (as established above, but hopefully with more skilled techs than we had today).  Then your ENTIRE surgical team comes in, along with their students, colleagues, friends, spouses, parents, and children.  If you're really lucky, they might bring their dogs.  Then you answer their questions, sign consents (or autographs, depending on who they are and what they want), if necessary, they shave you, and allow them to draw on you (for surgical site purposes.  They aren't artists after all).  At this point in our morning, the urologist on the case came down and explained his part of the surgery to us (mostly J, as he is the lead surgeon on his part of the case.)  My surgeon was in as well, going over my part of the surgery.  This is where it gets majorly hinky; remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about my funky anatomy?  Well, turns out that it's more of a challenge than we initially thought.  Because of the placement of the major vein that supplies the kidneys, if they were to just go in and take the kidney and try to place it in J, that would leave a renal vein about a half inch long to supply it.  Not nearly long enough.  We find this out minutes before we are supposed to be in the OR.  Our surgeons stepped out for a few minutes, came back and J's surgeon says "I am about to be a very unpopular surgeon this morning".  My heart SANK.  I had an idea of what was coming at us before he said it.  When he told us what I just got done typing, the first thing that came to my mind was "Well isn't that just a punch in the face?  My anatomy sucks and now we can't do this."  We got *this* close, only to be told "Hey, sorry to tell you this, but I only skimmed over your actual CT scan and went by the report said, so we thought we could go with the traditional approach.  We were way wrong.  Whoops."  So now we get to play the waiting game for two more months, and are on the books (supposedly) for May 1st.  For the love of all things, everything had better fall into place the right way, and I mean everything, so that this can go according to Plan B on May 1st.

I'm exhausted, so I'm off to bed.  Good night, and please send good vibes our way.  We really need them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The countdown is on!

We're in the home stretch.  Less than 2 days left until Lefty is moved from his current home to a new address.  It has been a whirlwind for sure; I really don't know if transplants move this fast normally.  We started this process officially on December 9th.  From start to finish, it has taken just shy of three months to get to this point.  I know Joe is ready to be two kidneys lighter.  The coming days and weeks will be an adventure for sure.  I'm just about ready; new furniture is in, house for the most part is clean(ish).  It's nearly impossible to keep it as clean as I want with a precocious 21 month old running the roost, which is okay.  I just have to keep chasing Cheerios out from under the couch.  

I don't really have much else to add today, I'm exhausted and still have a ton of stuff to get done (laundry is almost about to be checked off my list!).  I will try to post a couple of quick updates throughout the week.  Have no fear, SuperBean is here!!!

Good night friends!  :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

We're almost there, folks!

In 8 days, I will do something that will drastically change someone's life.  In 8 days, I will be an organ donor.  In some people's eyes, this will make me a super hero.  In my eyes, I will just be me.  Gina, but with one less kidney.  I wonder if the hospital gives out capes as parting gifts?  That would be funny; you get a cape when you sign your discharge papers.  "Thanks for giving away your kidney, here's your shiny green cape.  Sidekick not included."  Speaking of parting gifts, did you know that there is a market for transplant donor and recipient gifts?!?! For some strange reason, I decided to Google funny recipient gifts, and lo and behold, the first two websites that came up were CafePress and Zazzle.  They each have tons of those useless (read: tote bags that you'll never use and keychains destined for the junk drawer) trinkets that people love to give.  Some of the stuff is cute and funny, but nothing I would buy.  There are people who love that kind of stuff though, so now you know!  

Tomorrow is "Bye bye Old Couch Day" and Wednesday the new furniture is being delivered.  The house has been as thoroughly cleaned as I can possibly get it, save for scrubbing the walls and ceiling with bleach.  Ain't nobody got time fo' dat!  Clean floors, bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.  Groceries, check-ish (still need a few things).  At this point, I can't even think of what else I need to do.  I'm just winging it, not gonna lie.  The next week is going to be a whirlwind, for sure.  Can't wait!

Off to bed, I'm wiped out!  Until next time... 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pointless Post

I'm really only posting because I feel like I haven't in a really long time; in truth, it's only been a week.  Tomorrow is both J's and my pre-op appointment.  His is exponentially more lengthy than mine, and for the life of me, I can't remember what exactly he has to do tomorrow.  I will be signing my consent forms and meeting with my surgical team.  I already had all my pre-op labs done (yes, more blood and peeing into cups) last week.  We're getting down to it, peeps; 14 days, nine hours till The Great Kidney Swap of 2014.  Tomorrow is also the day I *should* be purchasing my new couches!  SQUEEEEE!  I am ridiculously excited.  I am a simple creature, I know.  Nothing else very exciting happening here.  Actually, this past week has been really kind of emotional for me.  So many different things are going on inside my head that I am kind of having a hard time dealing with it.  PLEASE NOTE: this has no bearing on the transplant whatsoever!!!  This is due to outside circumstances (read: dwindling support) as this process goes on.  As I said previously, I have some amazing friends, co-workers, and a few family members that still give a damn and have been an amazing source of strength.  Thank you all!  I will never forget how much you all supported me.  The rest is what it is.  I can't change it, I can only move past it, and I am starting to.  I just keep telling myself that the most important thing in all of this is that J is healthy and that he buys me those fries.  

Anyway, how about that awesome snowstorm the East Coast is supposed to get, huh?  It's supposed to start here in Maryland tomorrow evening and from what I hear, continue through till Thursday evening.  ICK!!!  

Have a good night everyone!