Sunday, March 14, 2010

5 Weeks since Surgery---Healing nicely

It’s been 5 weeks since the surgery. Recovery has been slower than I had hoped for but completely normal from the doctor’s point of view.

At this point, all the bandages are off and I’m back to work. My energy is back and I’m back to work fulltime. The biggest reminder is when I go from sitting to standing. I can feel everything in my stomach area stretching out.

From what I understand, even that will go away in a 2-3 weeks. The doctors have said that next week, I am cleared to pick things up. Translated, I can help Suzi again with Aaron care (putting him in and out of his crib, diapering, etc). Suzi is SOO excited for some freedom.

To be honest, I think this process has been harder on her than me. My hat goes off to women in similar situations (especially military wives). Each of you deserve a medal for the sacrifice you make!

It’ll also be nice to be able to wrestle and play chase with Luke and Aaron and not worry about a stray elbow getting me in the gut and sending me back to the operating room.

Weird how the little things like being able to play with and care for my kids is such a privilege.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's Next?

It’s been overwhelming how much support we’ve gotten from you! Prayers, meals, calls, texts, FB posts … I can’t tell you how much it has meant to Suzi, the boys and me!

Been home for a few days now and things are start to get back to normal. I’m still moving slower but can walk much longer. I still get tired often but seem to have significantly more energy when I’m awake.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about what’s next. I have no desire to be the proverbial High School quarterback who spends the rest of his life talking about the "big game." Life is about the here and now, not about the past. So I donated a kidney. Sure my body is in recovery but it’s not something to dwell on. I’ve donated a lot of blood in my past but that hasn’t stopped me from moving on the bigger and better things.

Now please don’t read this as I’m looking to donate any other major organs any time soon. I’m also not planning on doing anything major until I’m healed. That would just be silly.

I’ve been journaling quite a bit (which is so nice) trying to figure out what the next chapter will be. Not sure where God is calling me but I feel it’s time to start asking the question. May God bless you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

First Post from Home!

I’m home. Got home around 6pm last night. Very nice to be here surrounded by the familiar sounds of Luke and Aaron running around and Ada’s paws. Much better than the beeps, pages and interruptions from tons of lab people, doctors and nurses.

Yesterday was kind of difficult. Not from the incisions but from gas pains. My GI tract hadn’t really woken up (I only passed gas 2 or 3 times before leaving the hospital). Then to make matters worse, I forgot to take the pain meds before we got in the car to drive home.

It was rush hour, dark and rainy and I was having massive gas pains. Needless to say, it was a long ride! It’s amazing how bumpy I-5 is. Who knew?!?

After getting home, things started to get much better. Took some Tylenol, used the bathroom and went to bed. The kids were really gentle and Suzi was awesome. Couldn’t ask for more!

This morning, I’ve done about 10 laps around the house, had a light breakfast, showered and plan on going back to bed. Doesn’t sound like much but even this little amount of exertion really take a lot out of me.

Hope this finds you well! All the emails, FB posts, calls and visits have been so wonderful. God bless!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Updates on Post-0p

This is Suzi, here to update you on my amazing, wonderful, did I say amazing?!? husband.  I just got home from the hospital tonight and finally have access to a computer so I can update you all.  Zach's mom, Sheryl posted earlier today as well.  All in all, Zach is doing great!  The surgery went very smoothly, and he was very calm and ready for surgery when the time came.  I was so impressed with his ability to just let go and give it into the hands of God.  He (and the surgeon, of course) did fabulous and we are so grateful for such a good outcome.  The recipient received the kidney and the latest report is that he is doing very well (there's not much detail as it's important to protect privacy).  It is good to hear though, that Zach's kidney is working well in it's new home.  This now means that a "chain" has begun, where hopefully many people will be recieving live donor transplants.  Please look for more details about this in Zach's following posts,it's a fascinating thing! 

Zach has spent the last few days in recovery.  He pretty much slept the first day, waking up mostly just to crack a few jokes, push his drug button, and go back to sleep.  Today he was much more awake, and after a little drug snafu (if you want some good stories, ask me later) is doing great!  He has had a great attitude this whole time and I've been impressed at how he's handled everything.  His remaining kidney is functioning very well and his incisions look good (well, as good as incisions and staples can look).  He has about a 5"incision at his belly button where they removed the kidney, and three small 2" incisions on his left side where the instruments were for surgery (it's called laproscopic surgery and much less invasive than the old way of doing it).  Zach walked the floor twice today and was up for more, although we had to cut him off.  Our good friends Sara, Darren, and their daughter Alice came to visit which was really meaningful.  Darren was the person Zach got tested for originally but was not a match.  Darren received a kidney in Nov. and is doing well.  We have so much to be grateful for!

THANK YOU ALL for your prayers, emails, phone calls, messages, etc. etc.  The love and support that has been poured over us has been humbling and amazing.  There were so many notes and messages to Zach that it took me over an hour to read them all.  There were words of encouragement from those close to us, and some amazing stories from people we had never met, but who had heard about this.  There were even a few with a lighter side - funny kidney jokes and offers for kidney bean soup.  I wish I could share them all with you, because it was truly touching.  Zach and I really felt the presence of everyone with us, and most importantly, God.  So, THANK YOU,  thank you, and thank you again for sharing your hearts (not literally of course, we aren't allowed to donate those, you know!) and kind words with us.  We feel blessed and loved beyond what we could ever imagine.


Zach's Mom reporting - 1 day after surgery

Hey!  This is Zach's Mom - reporting in for today's hero -  He is doing great!  Everything appears to be just as promised.  Suzi, his wonderful bride, received hourly updates during the surgery yesterday.  Although we do not know his recipient, reports are that things are good on that side too!

Zach's remaining kidney is functioning normally.  Yea!!!  Zach is on a liquid diet today and is enjoying yummy yogurt and applesauce. Pain has been manageable once the little 'kink' in the IV was discovered.  arghghgh! then... wow!!  "I'm feeling much better now." 

I know that he (and his whole family)  is so grateful for all the prayers, good wishes and thoughts coming his way!

Signing off for now with hugs - Zach's Mom, Sheryl

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pre-Op Jitters

So I’m just a few days away from surgery. I’ve met with everyone I need to. I’ve signed all the forms. I’ve been thinking of this for nearly a year. You’d think after that much time, I would be completely relaxed having had all the time to worry.

Well today I’m a bit nervous. I trust the doctors. I trust my decision. I feel healthy. At the same time, I’m a bit anxious.

I am very much out of my comfort zone. Most of the time, I have complete control of what I’m doing. Not this time. I will be unconscious for nearly 3 hours.

I think the biggest thing is I’ve had too much time to think. Plus, I’ve been busy at work. Trying to get all the loose ends tied up before I go in.

If you are the praying type, please pray for me to feel God's calming presence today. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling a Bit Out of Control

Going into major surgery sure makes me feel out of control! Let’s face it, I’ll be knocked unconscious where I don’t even remember time passing and during that time, someone will open me up and take out a major organ.

I felt I needed to find something to give me some element of control. Something to do in preparation. I emailed some friends who told me about a book I have found really helpful. It’s called Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster. It’s a book and a relaxation CD. The woman who wrote it has a 5 step system for relaxing and specific steps to do before and after surgery to help people recover.

She has tested the methods clinically and the people going through it heal faster, need less time in the hospital and need less pain meds.

I’ve been going through it and it has helped. I can’t attest to whether it works since I have nothing to compare it to. But just having something to work on/focus on has really helped. If you are going to surgery, you may want to check it out.

Anyone have anything they did to help them prepare for surgery?  I'm looking anything specific--no matter how weird or simple.  Thanks!

Case Study--Seller Sold Home in 19 Days and He Picked the Price

Jason is a real estate investor and had a Puyallup home to sell. He had bought it with the intention to fix it up and sell it. Once he contacted me, I did an analysis of the current market value it might get once it was market ready. From there, he knew which repairs would make sense. He didn’t want to either over improve or under improve the home.

After the repairs were done, I paid for the home to be pre-inspected, staged and professionally photographed. We talked about pricing and he decided on an initial list price. After some showings with no offers, we were strongly talking about dropping the price.

We then got an offer which was lower than our planned price drop. I recommended we drop the price so that either the 1st buyer would up their offer or another buyer would show. The first buyer came up to our price, only 19 days after coming on the market.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is Kidney Recovery Like?

I’ve heard it’s very similar to recovering from a C section except you get uninterrupted sleep afterwards.

From what I understand, the day after, it hurts to move even your eyeballs. Then you deal with your GI tract starting to wake up. You feel the gas the surgeon used to fill up your abdominal cavity escaping and I hear that is not the most pleasant.

My surgery is on a Monday morning (7 am start) and they told me 40% of people are out on Wednesday, 50% are out on Thursday and 10% on Friday.

10 days after the surgery, I’ll go in for a follow up appointment which I hear people are 50% are doing great and 50% are still healing. By the 2 week mark, you feel pretty good.

Biggest thing is I can’t lift more than 10 lbs (i.e. either of my 2 boys) for 6 weeks. That’ll be the hardest part for me. We wrestle a lot. If you have questions, let me know and I’ll post what I know.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who is Receiving the Kidney?

A few of you have asked who will receive the kidney I'm donating. Well, frankly I don't know. I do know that it will go into person in the operating room next to me within minutes of them taking it out.

For altruistic donations (which is what they call what I'm doing), the hospital has a policy of not having the donor and recipient meet for 6 months after the surgery. This is for a number of reasons. The big one is the recipient sometimes feels a huge weight of reciprocity to the donor. They feel like they owe them and so focus on paying back rather than healing.

Also, this recipient has a friend who will donate their kidney as soon as this recipient gets one. This means that at least 2 people will receive a kidney because of the chain started. Pretty exciting!

More coming soon!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Donating my kidney--February 8th!

A lot has happened since my last post. The big news is I have a date to donate my kidney—February 8th at Swedish in Seattle!
Okay, so a lot has happened since my last post. To catch up a bit, I started the process with both UW and Swedish but Swedish seemed to really be on the ball.
The biggest part was I really felt good about the surgeon (180 degree difference from my experience at VM). The VM guy had nothing prepared, only asked us what our questions were and kept looking at his watch and phone like we were a real inconvenience to him.
The guy at Swedish said he had some standard things he likes to go over and then he’d take questions afterwards. He then explained the history of kidney donations, his experience (over 200 successful ones!), all the risk factors they look for and how my numbers stack up to those and the entire procedure. 2.5 hours later, I left knowing I had found my surgeon—someone who I trust, knew what they’re doing and really seems to care about me…rather than me just being a warm body with a kidney.
So 2 weeks from now, I’ll be coming out of recovery. I’ll post more soon so stay tuned!