Friday, April 26, 2013

Kidney Kountdown: questions, schedule, and what to expect

kountdownWe're still on target for a transplant surgery this Monday, April 29th! We've been counting down the days for a couple of weeks now. The questions we've gotten the most often are 1) "Are you excited?" 2) "Are you nervous?" and 3) "Do you need anything/how can I help?" The answer is a soft "yes" to the first two, and I'll answer the third in a little bit.


1) Excited? Having a transplanted kidney will be a mixed blessing. It will mean a lifetime of expensive medication, a higher chance of getting seriously sick, high-risk pregnancies, frequent doctor visits and blood tests for a couple of years, and an overall being "more careful" in life than if there were no kidney problems. BUT, it also means no dialysis, no restricted diet, no more epogen shots or high blood pressure meds (woohoo!). Groceries will be cheaper than with dialysis, and travel and life and general will be somewhat easier than has been the case for awhile now.

In short, life won't be like it was before kidney failure, but it will be way better than being on dialysis! The excitement we feel is a gentle contentment with things being better long term rather than an adrenaline rush. Our lives will pretty literally change overnight, but with a somewhat painful recovery, it will be months before we see the positive side of that.

2) Nervous? Yes, but not overly so. The surgery and recovery the doctors have described to us have led Julie to say she feels like she's preparing to "get beat up" and become an invalid for awhile. Mothers, think C-section on steroids (literally). Everyone else, think 6- to 8-inch diagonal slice through your abdomen traumatic enough to necessitate the leaving in of a couple of tubes for a few days to balance everything out again. People with experience disagree on whether the first, third, or fifth day afterwards is the worst.

We fully trust the hospital and the surgeons. They have handled thousands of these, and the same exceptional surgeon who performed a kidney transplant on our dear friend Kimberly last year will be doing the same for Julie on Monday!

3) Help you?  This will sound weird, but probably the best way you can serve us right away is to wait for information. I know many of you will want to know how my brave and loveable wife is doing because you care deeply for her. We are so thankful for your concern! We love that there are so many people who have questions, and it's for this reason that we'll work hard to keep the blog up-to-date. Starting Monday morning, we'll have updates on this blog about how Julie's doing as soon as we are able or ready to share it. But on a person-to-person basis, answering medical questions can make us feel like a kidney transplant is the only thing happening in the world—and that's just not true. It's nice to think about things going on in other people's lives as well!

Related to that, we'd love to hear from you during this time! Out of necessity, we'll be pretty isolated for awhile, so connecting to the outside world will be refreshing. Since visiting in person will be limited, emails, texts, and the like will be most welcome. The only snag is that we probably won't be able to respond for several days. (If you don't have our email addresses, you can find them at the bottom of our most recent newsletter. I'd rather not post them here).

Other than that, we still have a couple of open slots for meals if you want to take a look. At this point we're not sure what else we'll need during recovery.

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So here's the schedule so you can know and be praying:

Monday April 29, 2013:

  • 5:00am: Amy Whyatt (our donor) arrives at Integris for check-in and surgery prep.
  • 7:00am: Amy begins surgery
  • 9:00am: Julie arrives at Integris.
  • 11:00am: Amy finishes surgery. Julie begins.
  • 2:30pm: Julie finishes surgery.

Wednesday, May 1: 50% chance of being released from hospital

Thursday, May 2: even better chance of being released.

Surgery through mid-May: avoiding public places completely (because of the level of immunosuppression).

Mid-May through early June: able to go to public places only during times of smaller crowds.

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That's all for now! Check back for more info starting Monday!

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