The last two weeks have been a roller coaster. I have been struggling to find the motivation to actually write a blog post because I am adjusting to an overactive kidney and a ton of medication. So now I am taking some time to myself and I am going to write an honest post about my first few days post surgery. It is going to be very detailed so if you’re not into that, please do not continue reading. Spoiler alert: I peed in the bed a lot.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
I woke up at around 5AM on Tuesday morning (7 November 2017) for routine blood tests, BP check and sugar levels. My sister arrived at the hospital at 6AM and we joked around, walked to my fathers ward and took silly selfies and videos.
8AM came around and the doctors wheeled my dad into theatre. I was due to go in at 10AM. So for the next two hours, I slept. I was too scared and nervous to stay awake. At 10:30AM, they fetched me to go into theatre. I was wheeled into the room just before the theatre where the anaesthetist placed a needle in my hand and I was left there with a nurse till the surgeons were ready for me. I remember crying and asking if my dad was alright. The nurse that was looking after me was so sweet and kept reassuring me that everything is fine. They took me into theatre, where Dr Muller was waiting for me. She is an incredible surgeon and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I asked her if she could take a picture of my kidney for my blog. She laughed, took the kidney off the ice and showed it to me. It was truly an incredible moment seeing my dads kidney. The anaesthetist then came back in and put a mask over my face. I remember fighting with him because it smelled funny. See pictures below of my incredible team.
Hover over the images to see who these lovely people are.
Next thing I knew (at about 1:30PM), I was in the surgery recovery area and the first thing I heard was someone saying “the kidneys not working yet”. Although I have to admit I am not sure if I was dreaming or if this really happened. I didn’t ever ask anyone because I was afraid of the answer. A few hours later I woke up in surgical ICU. I had a catheter in so that they could measure my urine output, a drain just above where the kidney was placed and a few bandages/plasters over where they had cut me. To be honest, I had no pain but I was also on a lot of morphine. I started taking small sips of water and suddenly I threw up. This was unbearable. Sneezing, coughing and throwing up after stomach surgery is horrible. They gave me more medication and I fell asleep again. I woke up later (at about 6PM) and I was extremely uncomfortable. The catheter hurt and the nurses came in to change it. Once that was done, I felt a bit better. I don’t remember much else. According to my sister, I told her she is very pretty and then I asked her if I was pretty. I then asked her husband if he was going to a wedding and I thought he was lying when he told me he was going to work. This happens every time I have a surgery. My poor sister has to deal with me saying incredibly weird things that I never remember.
I woke up the next morning and I felt “fine”. This was probably the morphine working again.
Day 2 (Wednesday)
I was woken up at about 5AM for bloods. This was when I realised that I had a needle going into my wrist that was connected to a pipe that was tied around my arm. They used this to draw the blood, which was a relief as they did not need to find a vein. A different nurse came in and checked my sugar level, my blood pressure and temperature. Everything was fine except the blood pressure. At around 8AM, my nephrologist (Dr Stead) and the hospitals nephrologist (Dr Barday) came to see me. They were very happy to announce that my creatinine was 380 (it was 890 before surgery). I remember feeling really down about this because I expected it to be a lot lower. I just wanted it to be normal again. FYI: A normal person has a creatinine of 60. I spent most of my day dozing off and attempting to eat. I could not really lift myself and needed a nurse to assist me with the simplest of tasks.
I must admit that I felt pretty good on this day. My energy was up and I was talking and laughing almost like I had not had surgery the previous day. My stomach was quite bloated and I refused to look when they changed my dressings. Everyone that saw my scars said that the surgeon had done a wonderful job so I was not too worried. As a woman, I know its silly but I worry about what my body will look like after all of this. I have had many surgeries in the past year and my body has its battle wounds. My mom also commented on how much better I was looking. My skin was starting to look normal again, which was a relief. I will write a blog post soon on how everything has changes since my transplant.
I also had really cool mechanical compression socks! I was expecting the normal fabric socks but these were automated and swelled up every few minutes.
Day 3 (Thursday)
Day three things started going a bit awry. The day started off with the usual bloods and checkups early in the AM. Then the doctors told me that my creatinine is now 180 and that I can expect it to drop everyday. The doctors were incredibly happy with my progress and all my numbers looked good. Mid morning came and things started getting uncomfortable. This is probably TMI but I want to be as honest as possible. I started bypassing my catheter. Basically I started urinating on the bed, instead of into the bag through the catheter. This was highly uncomfortable. I was wetting the bed every few minutes and there was nothing they could do to help me. The catheter needed to stay in until Sunday. So they put down a linen saver and I just had to urinate on the bed. It was a little bit traumatising and I started getting really upset every time it happened. The night was even worse because I would wake up every hour to pee.
On this day, the physiotherapist came to visit me. She showed me how to sit up and she helped me brush my hair. Its the little things but I felt a lot more human after that. She also helped me with breathing exercises as I had been experiencing shortness of breath since the surgery. She promised me that we could take a walk the next day if I had enough energy.
Day 4 (Friday)
This day started like the rest. Bloods, temperature and blood pressure early in the morning followed by a visit from my doctors. Once again, they were very happy because my creatinine was now at 90. I was still not happy because of my bypassing catheter. They also said that my drain could come out. This was pain free. The nurse cuts your stitches and tugs at the drain and voila! Once the drain was out, the physio came by and I walked for the first time since surgery. I walked all the way to my fathers room to say hi. The physio was quite impressed and told me to walk whenever I could.
On this day I also looked at my scars for the first time. It was quite an experience. I expected a lot worse but it was so neat. The doctor used inside stitches so it was very neat. She had also removed my PD catheter in the process so I have a little hole in my stomach (imagine a tiny “innie” belly button”). The worse part of the surgery scar was all the bruising. My thigh, stomach and groin area were different shades of blue and purple because of the pressure used during surgery. They had assured me that the bruising would go down. As I write this, I am three weeks post surgery and the bruising is still quite bad.
This was also my favourite day in hospital because my mother brought me one of my favourite meals for lunch. The hospital food was terrible and all I wanted was a home cooked meal.
Day 5 (Saturday)
On day 5, I moved out of ICU and went into a isolated ward! This only happened at 12 and the morning before I moved was eventful. Firstly, after much begging and pleading, the surgeon agreed that I could have my catheter removed, as long as I measured every single drop of urine. I agreed and was so happy when the nurse removed it. I managed to give myself a sponge bath (the nurse had been doing it everyday before this) and I changed out of the hospital gown into my own pajamas. I was so so happy to be in my own clothes. I even managed to put on some perfume and mascara. Once again, its the little things that makes you feel better. At 12PM, I was moved to the isolation ward with one other kidney transplant recipient. I was so happy to not have the catheter in that I decided that I wanted to pee in a toilet. On my own. Not realising that my bladder was still a bit traumatised from surgery. So I hopped off the bed and immediately peed all over myself. I had to call a nurse to help me clean up and to bring me a bed pan. I had to stop being stubborn and deal with having to pee in a bed pan in my room because the bathroom was too far. I did not plan on peeing all over the hospital floors. Since I started peeing in the bed pan, I could see a lot of blood in my urine. This is something you don’t really notice in the catheter. This was due to the surgery. I’m not sure if the same happens to males but my doctor assured me that it was normal to bleed. So a tip for females: bring your pads with to the hospital, even if your period is not due.
This is not a glamorous story or journey. On a related note: on day5, I still had not gone to the toilet to poop. That is 5 days without pooping. That is not cool at all. I felt bloated and uncomfortable.
Next week sometime I will post about my last two days in hospital, what I learned about being in hospital as well as continue to update you on my pooping adventures.