Tuesday, April 27: Day 61, Biopsy: Done. Wound clinic: Done. Going back to work: Whaaa??

I’m so proud of Dan and how well he continues to do! Yesterday he went to his last wound clinic (yay!) — he’s still about two weeks away from everything being completely healed over, but he’s done with the specialized wound care! He also had labs and a transplant clinic, which went so well that his doctor brought up the subject of Going Back To Work! Heavens, the guy has just had a kidney transplant and he’s well enough already to think about returning to work? Wow! It’ll be part-time at first – his first day back is already planned for this Friday…..Friday?? I know! He’ll need to work part-time for a while until he’s built up his strength. But wow, it’s just made me reflect on the entire journey that Dan’s been through since he was first diagnosed with kidney disease. The kidney transplant has been looming in his future for so long that it became a fixture in our lives…now it’s actually behind him — it’s done, complete, no more looming. It’s an interesting enough mind-set-change for me, so I can’t imagine what it must feel like for Dan.

He plans to visit his old dialysis center, at the suggestion of his doctor, to kind of show the staff that people can get better (it’s got to be a challenge working at one of those centers – it was challenging enough for Dan to be a patient there three times a week, but to work there full-time has got to take a lot of patience and stamina). And to also show the patients that a transplant doesn’t have to seem like such an impossibility — if it’s an option for them, they should at least give it some consideration.

Dan will continue to have labs every week, and attend transplant clinics at least two or three more times before he “graduates” from the transplant program. I am going to miss his team of doctors and nurses – they are the best. But they have new transplant patients to deal with now, and Dan will go back to his regular nephrologist and internist for his regular care — although he’ll always need to have routine labs.

Oh, I almost forgot: Yesterday, Dan also had the routine biopsy. He had to be checked into the “Special Procedures Unit” and then was wheeled into radiology for the actual biopsy. The doctor located the kidney via ultrasound, picking a spot well away from the major blood vessels in the kidney, and gave Dan two injections of novacaine: one just under the skin and another that looked right in the kidney itself. He didn’t feel either injection – so far so good. The doctor then took this huge needle with a plastic-looking attachment, and did a test “thwak!”. That was the biopsy needle contraption and it sounded LOUD when the doctor activated it. A little intimidating, but Dan felt okay because the doctor has been saying all along that it would be nothing like the biopsy he had years ago on his native kidneys. Going through all of those big back muscles to get to the native kidney is the tough part, so no wonder it was painful. This one was much different. The doctor took two samples (that’s two LOUD THWAKs!) and then he was done. He covered up the entry point with a small band-aid, and Dan never felt a thing. Nice! As we were coming out of the room, another kidney transplant patient was waiting her turn in the hall. The doctor asked Dan to tell her how it went, and he said “Piece of cake!”. They called with the results today: normal – no signs of rejection. Wonderful!

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Wednesday, April 14: Day 48, Another great clinic day!

Dan skated through his two clinic visits today! First, he saw the transplant docs. His labs are good and his creatinine is even a little bit down. It’ll probably stay between 1.7 and 1.9 as his new normal. They didn’t need to adjust any medications and they even said that since his incision site is finally healing up well, he’s turned into a “boring” case. Well, boring is good! Also, Dan should only need to visit the wound clinic once more, so it’ll be good to go back to just a single clinic — although we really love the nurse that Dan’s been seeing there, and we’ll miss seeing her. The semi-dreaded routine biopsy has been scheduled for the 27th. They’ll be able to see at a microscopic level if there are any early signs of rejection. If there are, I believe they’ll address it with a change in medications.

I can’t believe that Dan only has about a month left at the transplant clinic before he “graduates” from their program. Wow. Looking back, it’s been an interesting trip and it seems like such a long road. But looking at Dan today and the amount of energy that he has — it’s totally amazing. I’m so glad he’s feeling so much better!

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Wednesday, April 7: Day 41, Now that’s what I call a great clinic day!

We had wound clinic this morning and the nurse was so happy with the way Dan is healing that she updated the wound care regimen so that it’s now tremendously easy to carry out. No more complicated steps and no more multitudes of different medical supplies — a large adhesive bandage and some anti-microbial gel and Dan’s good to go!

More good news awaited us at the transplant clinic. Dan’s doctor gave him the go-ahead to drive! (He did recommend that Dan check out his braking reflexes in an empty parking lot before going for his first drive, just to be sure he’s ready.) I’m sure Dan is excited to be able to escape the confines of the house without calling me to drive him, but I’m really thrilled. Not that I don’t enjoy being Dan’s chauffeur, but it’s going to be great to have Dan available to drop off and pick up Charlie from school and daycare. Whee!

Dan’s lab numbers continue to hold steady and the docs seem happy with his progress. They will want to do a biopsy on the new kidney sometime in the next couple of weeks to evaluate how well it’s doing. They repeated their earlier assurances that this biopsy will be much less unpleasant than the one Dan went through when he was first diagnosed with kidney disease. Knowing Dan, I bet he’ll continue worrying about it until it happens, but hopefully at a lower level.

Thanks for the continued prayers and support. :)

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Saturday, April 3: Day 37, Busy Day

Wow, it’s been over a week since I’ve written here. We’ve gotten used to our new routine, and Dan continues to only need to go to the transplant and wound clinics once a week. We’ve been taking good care of two sites on his incision that need attention. One is really healing nicely, but the other is taking its sweet time with this whole healing thing. We are doing everything that the nurse at the wound clinic has instructed us to do. She keeps us fairly well stocked with supplies, but occasionally I’ll need to track down something or other that we’ve gotten too low on — and it needs to be used that same day. Just so you know, tracking down specialized medical supplies (like those little plastic cups you take your pills with, and an anti-microbial gel called “Silvasorb” that must have real silver in it – it’s expensive!) is a little like going on a scavenger hunt. One that closes at 5pm on weekdays and is closed on the weekends. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to find what was needed. :)

Lab numbers are still good, and the doctors seem happy. I have to say that going to the clinic one time a week is much preferred over the ‘three times a week’ routine.

We spent the morning doing fun stuff, but we didn’t have a moment to spare until lunch time. First, we attended the Easter egg hunt at West Gresham Elementary School. It’s put on by the staff at the daycare where Charlie spent his first five years. I’ve never seen so many people there — and in spite of the rain! We had to be there at 9:00am sharp, because once they “release the hounds”, er, kids, the actual “hunting” part only lasts for about five minutes. I’ve got video – it’s like a horde of ants descending on a field of candy. Very fun though, and we’re thankful to the owners and staff of the daycare for all of the work they put into this each year. This is apparently the 60th year of this particular Easter egg hunt, and going strong!

Right after the eggs were gathered, we sped over to the baseball field for opening day festivities for Little League. It had stopped raining but was extremely cold. Pictures were taken and then the kids ate pancakes, and finally it was time to get lined up for team introductions. They took the kids out, lined them up by team, and left them standing in the outfield for what seemed like four hours while the board of directors were introduced and then some other announcements were made but we couldn’t hear them because they were using speakers from a kids’ karaoke set (or so it seemed). By the time they finally led the kids off the field, I was half frozen, Dan was in the car, and Charlie just wanted to go home. Yay, team! Our first game is this Thursday and we’re really hoping for better weather.

Oh, I forgot to mention that during this whole time I was just itching to get in line at the Apple store for a new iPad (especially at 9am when I could just imagine the folks who were in line and the doors opening up). Dan thinks that its ridiculous for someone to wait in line to buy anything, but somehow that iPad has been calling my name ever since Apple announced it. And ordering it for delivery sometime in the far future (April 12) seems so anti-climactic and blah.

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