Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Let's Play Catch-Up...

Sorry these entries are so long, I will try to keep them manageable.

In early March 2009, I contacted the 'Transplant Assessment Office' at Toronto General Hospital with a whole lot of questions and a request for information on living organ donation. The woman I spoke to was awesome! She not only answered all my questions, she seemed genuinely interested in me, and what my motives were. When all was said and done, she promised to email me a 'Living Donor Information package'.

On March 10, 2009, I received the 'Living Donor Information Package'!! This included a 14 page 'manual' and a 6 page 'living donor health history questionnaire'. There's a lot of information to read and digest in this and nothings been sugar-coated.

Jump ahead to April 27th, 2009, this was the day I faxed the completed health questionnaire from my workplace to the Donor Assessment Office along with a copy of my latest blood tests. Up until now, I never knew my blood type! I'm A+!! I called the office to make sure everything went through ok and they said it did.

On May 8,2009 I got a call from the Donor Transplant Assessment Office. This was to confirm they had scheduled a number of tests for my assessment as a potential donor. These tests were scheduled for May 28, 2009 at the hospital itself. By my request, that schedule was emailed to me. Since my testing was to begin at 9:00 in the morning, and because I live over two hours away from the hospital itself, I decided to spend the evening prior to the testing at a hotel a few blocks from Toronto General Hospital, that way I wouldn't get stuck in traffic and I could be well rested. The only setback I had was I forgot my running shoes at home and only had my work boots. Needless to say, I had to buy some runners the night before the testing. Also, I was instructed not to eat anything after midnight the night before testing straight through till after my ultrasound which was scheduled for 1:30pm. Also, no food again 4 hours prior to my MRI, which was scheduled for 9:30pm. Sheesh!!

Here now, is the schedule from May 28th (names withheld for privacy)

9:00am This was a general meeting with my transplant assessment coordinator on the 12th floor. She went over the schedule of tests, the procedures, organ donation in general and just talked to me about everything I could expect this day. She also informed me that they would contact me the following Tuesday with my results....those results being I am still a candidate, or I'm not a candidate. She then gave me a blue hospital Id card and sent me on my way. What a sweet angel she was!

10:00am I headed down to the ground floor for some blood work and an ECG. As luck would have it, I had to walk through a frickin' food court to get to the blood work place!! The smell of bacon was especially strong that day too!! I checked in at the desk almost 15 minutes early and was very surprised to wait less than 5 minutes until they called me in! The tech that took my blood was super! Very friendly, very talkative....just like a favorite Aunt! To be honest, the entire hospital staff was just wonderful, I can't praise them enough! Anyways, she harvested 15 vials of blood and coaxed a urine sample out of me. After that, she hooked me up for the ECG. I could have hugged her she was so nice. I then had to walk back through the food court....all I smell is coffee and muffins!!

11:00am Off to the medical imaging department for an abdominal CT scan! Once again, I checked in about 20 minutes early but only had to wait about 5 minutes to get called in!! The tech gave me a robe thingy to wear, only socks, underwear and jewelry, he then directed me to a waiting room where another tech came and led me to the CT scan. This guy was great, he explained what was going to happen and helped me into the scanner. He then hooked an IV into my arm that was to pump dye through me and started the machine. I was actually pretty relaxed as I lay there, he spoke through a speaker system and told me when to, and not to, hold my breathe. Then my whole arm tingled as that dye shot into me. Very strange feeling. In any case, that test lasted more than 45 minutes!

12:30pm Back in line to register for the chest x-ray, got a strange look from the lady at the desk, but that might be because I still have the robe thingy on! Simple procedure, great tech as well. As I sat in the waiting room, I chatted with two other fellows. One guy was there for a follow up from a heart transplant, he was in his 60's, the other guy, maybe early 30's, had a heart defect that this hospital discovered and was having surgery later that week. Nice guys, and both remarked how wonderful the staff was. After my x-ray, I wished both guys all the best and went to change back into street clothes. The X-ray tech looked way to young to be an X-ray tech.

1:30pm Back in line yet again to register for the abdominal ultrasound. The lady at the desk didn't even ask for the ID card this time!! I did have to wait about 30 minutes though as I was really early. Good thing I brought my Nintendo! As I waited...all I could think of was attacking that food court once I was done!! When I was called in, I had to change into the backless hospital robe. Once again, the tech was great and she walked me through the procedure. An ultrasound is pretty basic, this one lasted a long time though as she mapped out all my veins and whatnot. When she finished, she advised me to head over to the MRI in case someone cancelled an appointment, I could get it! Good idea, even though I'm really hungry.

9:30pm So I go to register for the MRI and it's only 2:15pm. The lady at the desk tells me I can register, but I can't leave as I am registering early and on a standby list. I'm sooooo hungry! I ask her if I can eat and she tells me no because my system has to be empty for the scan. Grrrr!!! (I would not marry this woman) Long story short...there were no cancellations and I had to wait in that stupid room till 9:00pm before I got called in. Once I was called in, I suited up in the backless robes and was forced to drink this container of heavy, thick, white milky looking shit. It was horrible and my stomach cursed me for it. The MRI is a loud clunky machine. They outfitted me with headphones and strapped me to a table. They gave me directions through the headphones of when to breathe and when to hold....apparently, I fell asleep twice in the machine so I wasn't following instructions very well. I actually left the hospital at 11:20pm. My car was 4 blocks away and I needed coffee! I won't even talk about the food I ate on the way's embarrassing. So ends the day of testing.

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