Sunday, September 7, 2008

I am NOT a morning person!

One of the yearly rituals that I undertake is a visit to the transplant clinic to let them poke, prod, and give me the the general once over. It's a bit like taking your car in for a yearly overhaul, though in this case it involves an early morning start, like at 7 am. This wouldn't be so terrible, except for the fact that I get out of work at 3 am. Yes, I do telecommute, but it's still oh-dark-thirty, which means that going to the lab to get bloods drawn before the actual clinic appointment was going to be an effort. Oh, I should clarify. I need to be at the lab by 7 am so that the test results will be at the clinic by 9 am.

So, I get out of work Wed. at the appointed hour, and I can't get to sleep. Nothing. Nada. 3:45 am rolls around, and I am finally getting sleepy. I'm thinking, "This is going to be fun. I'll probably fall asleep while they're putting the needle in my arm." I make an executive decision, and opt for more sleep. They'll have to deal with the the possibility of the results not being ready when I get to the clinic.

I wind up at the lab at 8 am, wait about 20 min to be seen. A good looking blond phlebotomist does that voodoo that she do so well, and then I grab a bagel and coffee at the stand in the hospital lobby. The clinic itself is actually part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, where my transplant center is. All my bloodwork needs to be done as a fasting one, especially now since I was diagnosed with diabetes last year from the long-term use of my transplant meds. Food in hand, I amble up to the clinic waiting area, along with a Stephen King book that a friend lent to me. It is 'Different Seasons," the series of novellas that he wrote that includes "The Shawshank Redemption." Now, if you live here in the States, and get TBS on your cable or satellite system, you know that the movie version of this is played endlessly. Seriously, I am surprised that no one has simply started a Stephen King Channel, all Shawshank, all the time.

I wanted to read the original version, as with most books, they are usually better than the adaptations for movies. The movie itself I have only seen in bits and pieces. I know this is going to be a long haul, and since it is a novella, only just over a hundred pages, I figure I could get a good hunk of it in before I get seen. It was a good choice. I arrived at the clinic promptly at 9 am, and settled into the waiting area.

Thursday's are for the post-transplant people like myself, with Tuesday's being reserved for the pre-transplants. They are the ones who are just being evaluated, or already accepted as transplant candidates and are being followed by the team. Us post-transplants, with the exceptions of the ones that are fresh out of transplant, generally don't take as much time being seen. People like me who are far out, (not in a hippy-dippy weatherman sort of way) usually take even less time. Still, I didn't get called in until close to 10:30.

In many ways, I am glad that they made this change some years ago, making the pre-, and post transplant people go on different days. It was sometimes difficult prior to that, when we would all go on the same days. Looking into the eyes of those pre-transplant folks, the desperation on their faces and those of the relatives that brought them brought back some difficult memories. Of course, at the same time, when they would ask me if I already had my transplant, and I would say yes, that got their attention. When I would tell them how long ago I had the operation, there would be this look of astonishment, then followed by the peppering of questions. They were scared, and rightfully so. However, I would always ask the patients one quesion:

"What are you prepared to do?"

The sad fact is that while a tranplant can save their lives, they have to be willing to accept certain things, and understand that the idea of a "normal life" is going to change forever.

So, they call my name, I get weighed and have my vitals taken. All good. then I wait again for either the transplant surgeon or the nurse practitioner to see me. In this case, it is a nurse practitioner that I know well. All seems to be in order, and lo and behold, my bloodwork actually turned up. My liver numbers are slightly elevated, but they have been this way since my little stint in the hospital last year. They don't seem to be too concerned, as they have remained steady, have not spiked, and it is only some of the numbers that are up. The rest are right where they should be, my kidney function is perfect, and my blood sugar is right on the money.

I get a physical exam, and she comments on how well my scar healed over the years. We make some small talk about some people we both know, and then I am on my way. Come back in another year. I still get bloods drawn once per month to check liver functions, and the level of anti-rejection meds floating around inside of me. This is one of the trade-offs, and what I was referring to before about "a normal life."

Back to the car, and life goes on. Oh, the story was fantastic! I will Netflix the movie now, but the stroy was just so well written, as many (but not all) of his things are.


BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'm so glad to hear all is well. Shawshank Redemption is one of the best filsm I've ever seen, I've read alot of Stephen King's earlier works but Shawshank is the only one I've ever thought worked well as a film adaptation. It deserves it's place in all those top movie lists!
BG x

Retiredandcrazy said...

We used to have prenatal, postnatal and abortion clinic together in this country once. Not a good idea and thankfully now changed.

Mr. Nighttime said...

BG - I just put it into my Netflix queue for this week. I'll finally sit down and watch the whole thing from start to finish.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Retired - "We used to have prenatal, postnatal and abortion clinic together in this country once. Not a good idea and thankfully now changed."

*Scratching my head in slight bewilderment.* Uhm...did I miss a staff meeting?
Oh! Okay, gotcha. What NHS genius thought THAT was a good idea??

Jay said...

"However, I would always ask the patients one quesion:

"What are you prepared to do?""

Good question! I bet some people are stunned at the amount of aftercare a transplant requires. I'm glad to hear you're in good health right now!

Peter said...

Thank you for sharing this very personal story.

It reminded me how many more lives could be saved if all countries adhered to the "everyone's a donor unless they have objected while they were alive", just like in Belgium.

I know how profoundly shocking the loss of a loved one can be, but I believe it's our moral duty to all be donors.