Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from the hospital....again. Surgery #2 in 10 days

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Dave woke up with intense abdominal pain. Nausea and vomiting to the point where I almost called 911. We both thought that he was rejecting the new kidney.

I spent two hours back and forth on the phone with the doctors at Cedars. They wanted me to bring him in. But I couldn't get him out of bed, downstairs and into the car. Not to mention the fact that I needed to get someone over here to watch the kids. Dave, who barely complained about pain after any of his procedures, was now yelling and saying his pain was at a 10!

When I finally got him downstairs (I'm sure an angel helped me) and into the front seat of the SUV, he was still yelling in pain. How on earth was I going to drive this man to Cedars, which is about 90 minutes away??

By divine intervention, I was given the clarity to skip the freeway, and take him into Mission Hospital, which was a mere 5 minutes away ~ with a full trauma center.

After an initial evaluation, some preliminary labs, and copious amounts of pain meds and anti-nausea meds we were told that he had an infection but they weren't sure where it was coming from. Then they used words that someone with a little knowledge can freak out "acidosis" and "septic"....holy cow!!! Treatment for that would run the risk of hurting the kidney.

They took him down to CTScan his abdomen, and the next thing we knew the surgeon was in our room checking him out. Great, a surgeon! Cutters! What now??

The doctor began asking him to pin point the area where the pain was coming from. Then began pushing on different areas. As I saw him feel for Dave's right hip bone, then do a sweeping hand motion and press right on his APPENDIX....Dave nearly jumped off the table. I think I must have given an very loud "Whoo-hoo". Strange reaction by most people, I will admit. But the alternatives to Appendicitis were blood infection or Staph. I would choose an emergency appendectomy any day!! Poor Dave. But...thank God we can fix this!!

Dave was told he needed surgery ASAP. The surgeon was going to try to do it laproscopically, which would mean three small holes to fashionably go with his long scar already on the abdomen. Cool....chicks dig scars! :)

Dave came through the procedure wonderfully. He was in and out within an hour. No rupturing and no perforation. Thank God....all he will need is another oral antibiotic.

We, once again, see how God is in complete control. Even in what we see as utter chaos, His plan is coming together. The surgeon (who was just an on-call surgeon) has a specialty; appendectomies done laproscopically. Ha! That was pretty amazing! Then we have the issue of should I or shouldn't I have driven up to LA with Dave in such pain. God allowed us to be seen in a reasonable amount of time and Dave was able to get medicine to calm him down so his body wasn't in such agony for hours. God is good.

Even with an emergency appendectomy (which is in no way tied to the is truly a fluke of timing) we are thankful!

He is home, once again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Gift of Life

John....our hero. This amazing, loving, noble, selfless man, who gave Dave back his life. Thank you doesn't even begin to say enough to him, but yet that's all he wanted.

In keeping with John's request, we kept mum on who Dave's donor was. There were some friends who we did share this information with, but those were the people who wouldn't accidentally share this news with the dear aunties or other cousins that would set the gossip phone lines on fire. John wanted what he was doing for Dave to be kept private. He wasn't doing this for any glory or atta-boy praise from others.

The day of the transplant they took John into surgery about 2 1/2 hours prior to Dave. I sat with April, John's brave wife, and we knew what was happening to our two husbands was something that few people will ever experience. We became sisters that day. In a similar way that Dave and John became brothers. There was a new connection between the four of us that would be special from that day forward.

When John's surgeon came out to the waiting room to give us the news that John had made it through his portion of the surgery, and most importantly that he was fine; I remember just sobbing in relief. Thank God, he was ok. Thank you, God that you allowed him to give this gift of life to Dave, without having this action compromise his health in anyway. Thank you, God.
April and I just hugged each other tightly. One down, and one to go. We knew that at that moment Dave was in the middle of his transplant. Oh dear Lord, please be with my husband....

About two hours later, our surgeon, Dr. Dafoe (yes...he is related to the Green Goblin), walked into the waiting area with news about Dave. He said that the kidney was already functioning. It was a robust kidney, and it appeared that Dave's body was taking to it, just fine.

Upon hearing this news, I was overjoyed! Again, tears of happiness started streaming down my face, only to be interrupted by the words, "But there may be a problem with his breathing". What did he mean. "his breathing"? Did it have something to do with his Wegener's flaring? Could there be lung scarring? What exactly was going on???

Dr. Dafoe told me that Dave's O2 saturation was low. Probably in the high 80's. He had fluid in his lungs. He was intibated from surgery, and they may have to put him on a respirator. Scary, scary words..."a respirator". He said that he would go back in 10 minutes to check on Dave and see what the recovery team had decided to do. But to be rest assured that they were working on him. Again, my mind went to some vague memory of a code blue being called in the ER....working on him.

Amazingly I felt peace within this crazy, scary time. I felt as though I was being held by Jesus, himself. I can't say that I knew he would be ok. I didn't. I just felt like whatever happened IT would be ok. Ten minutes went by excruciatingly slow.

Dr. Dafoe walked back out and told me that they had, indeed, removed the intibation tube, and that Dave was now breathing on his own. Praise God!! Thank you, Lord!! His kidney was working and the excess fluid in his lungs was being removed through that robust little kidney!

Dave was in recovery for the next six hours.

During this time, John was able to go into his suite. A suite at Cedars Sinai is truly that....a suite. They mimic something from the Four Seasons. It is a VIP floor where the rich and famous stay. It is the Club Floor! They graciously treat all organ donors as the 'stars' that they are.

As I walked into the room, John was asleep. April, John's mom, his two little girls and John's brother were in there just hanging out. Yes, the room IS that big. John woke up just enough to ask if Dave was ok. I held on to his hand, and told him that everything was fine. I thanked him for saving Dave's life. I kissed his hand, which was the only place I could reach! John is a BIG guy...and I am...not. :)

The truly amazing thing is the look that John had in his eyes. I recognized that look. When a woman gives birth to her children there is a look in her eyes that God allows us to have. It is the look of life-giving. Life, the most precious of all gifts, is not something that God takes lightly, I assume. John had that glowing, holy, life-giving look in his eyes. It was God's Spirit I saw. He was being blessed, even as his actions blessed us.

Thank you, John. Your gift has given Dave his life back. Your gift has given our family another chance to be a family and not have to live around a dialysis machine. Dave will have the energy and will that he once had. He can play with his boys the way he used to play. He can clean out his garage and dabble in some woodworking projects, again. He can paint the bathroom. He can take us on a vacation, and not worry about having to take a four hour nap every day. But most of all, we can have a future. Thank you, John. We are forever grateful to you, April and the girls. We love you all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You know you are in a hospital in Beverly Hills when...

We made it home on Saturday after a very eventful week up in LA. The people at Cedars Sinai were just wonderful! I want to work there when I grow up!! They took such excellent care of Dave, and made sure I had a nice bed beside him on the nights I stayed up there. The nursing staff was top notch! The doctors....well, what can I say...they (with the help of our God) saved my husband's life!

I knew I was in LA when, on the day of Dave's surgery, I was waiting in the recovery waiting room with a well known actress ~ who was also waiting to hear about her husband. We ended up becoming good buddies, sharing our novels (although neither of us had enough brain power left to read beyond a 4th grade level that night) and phone numbers. I think the term "networking" sort of fits, as we talked about philanthropy projects we were interested in helping, and as I ended up giving her my card so I could work with her at an event scheduled early next year at the new Ronald Reagan building at UCLA. Too funny!!

Reality came back into focus as both of our husbands finally got their rooms, and we hugged as we went on to different units of the hospital. Only in LA, baby!

Oh...there was a Starbucks in the lobby, too. How cool is that? I am still coming down from my skinny vanilla latte' highs of last week.

Upon waking from the cloudiness of anesthesia, Dave was already looking better than when he went into surgery. Amazing how that little kidney was already fast at work cleaning all the gunk out of his bloodstream. When I see how our bodies work, I am always shocked by those who think we just evolved from some slime that crawled out of the water.

Although the trip to Beverly Hills was grueling from south Orange County....and I really do get the whole road rage thing, now...I am so happy that God led us to this facility. As a Christan, my faith is what glues me together. It was not a cross, but rather the Star of David that shone down from the outside wall of the hospital entrance. Faith abides inside. That gave both of us a a huge sense of comfort! Faith in the one true God and His abiding love and power.

We have made it home, and Dave is doing great! He continues to lose weight, and his body is functioning again! Praise God!

Monday, November 17, 2008

As I am packing the bags for our little trip up to LA, I wanted to stop long enough to say "thank you" to our friends, and family. We have been lifted up in prayer by people all over the country! Both Dave and I are truly humbled at all the love, support, and encouragement that keeps coming our way. When I put a bulletin out that prayer is needed, I get responses almost immediately! We are blessed by you!

I probably won't post on the blog until next week. I will be calling people while I am in traffic on the 405 this week, so you might get a call, sometime!

Again~ thank you for the prayers and love!! God has brought us this far for some purpose. While we are not sure what that is, we remain faithful to His call and His plan for our lives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday is the Transplant!

The day of the transplant is quickly approaching, and I have so much to do that I feel like I should be wearing roller skates (gee...that dates me!) so I can get it all accomplished.

Dave had his final IVIG therapy yesterday, and they took one last blood test to make sure the cross match is good with the donor's, after all of these antibody treatments. We have been told that the results will be in by Friday, and that no news is good news. If we don't hear from them, have our bags packed and ready for Tuesday morning!

It was sort of funny the other day, as we sat in the transplant center's examination room talking to the nurse coordinator. She mentioned that Dave would no longer be able to eat anything raw (which is what had already told him....but we won't go there). He realized that "raw" meant sushi! I swear, I thought he was going to get up and say something like, "Thanks, but I'll stay on dialysis". So I promised him a weekend of awesome Japanese food. Ahhh... the sacrifices I make! ;)

As I sit here, and try to concentrate on the events of the last two and a half years, I am focusing on the blessings that God has allowed into our lives. Especially the awesome people who have blessed our lives so abundantly through prayer, friendship, service and constant encouragement. Without these trials, we never would have experienced these blessings so fully. So, while the road has been difficult, and while (speaking only for myself) I wish I could have remained in a state of denial most of the time....I have received so many personal blessings. Thank you!

I will keep you all updated as best as I can through next week. Most of you have my email or my cell phone, so feel free to contact me, anytime.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Off to Atlanta

This is the weekend I have scheduled to go and visit my brother in the great state of Georgia! Since I have never been to Atlanta, sans the airport on my way to Disneyworld, I am pretty excited.

Dave will be here with the boys, and be helped with some wonderful babysitters and my mom. So things should run smoothly for three days. Right??? Why then do I feel so gosh-darn guilty about leaving?

So...if you're in the neighborhood, and feeling well (seriously...) please drop by and visit Dave and the boys while I am away. Of course you may find the three of them watching some Godzilla movie, wearing their underware, and eating cake frosting with their fingers! :) It's good to be a guy, or so I hear!