Ok then...time to pick up where I left off.
Last Sunday, (September 13/09) the plan was for my brother and his wife to take me into Toronto and drop me off at a hotel. This way I could get a good nights sleep and not worry about traffic issues in the morning. The plans changed as fast as I was making them and as it turned out, my Mom decided to go with me on the overnight-er so she could be there first thing in the morning and throughout the day for the entire surgery. This was also beneficial for if there were any problems or questions while I was under anesthesia, someone could be my voice.
**WARNING: RANT AHEAD**
Now, I've had many excursions to Toronto over the past few months...had several stay-overs because of tests being done so I've learned a few things along the way! Toronto General Hospital has partnered with just about every hotel in the downtown core to offer a 'Hospital Rate' or a discount of some sort if you have paper work from the hospital stating you're having a procedure done. I have taken advantage of this 'discount' several times over the past little while with no problems ever...until Sunday. Well, I phoned ahead to make sure the hotel would in fact have a room that I could reserve, they did. All my information is already in the system there due to my past dealings with said hotel. Seems the Toronto Film Festival is in town and even though hotels have empty rooms...there are no discounts or special rates because some greedy, suit-wearing 'hand-job' needs to make a profit. No big deal really, it's the principle of the whole thing and I blame Oprah!! Turns out Oprah was spotted orbiting down Young Street, hotel rooms jump $50.00 a night. Bleeeh!
OK, rant over! End result, me & me mom shared a large double room. I kind of slept ok, but Mom had a serious case of 'Jimmy Legs' and didn't sleep very well at all. At 5:40 am, we headed for the hospital to prep for what would be a very long day.
At the hospital, I was already checked in. So we were led through some doors to a waiting area. Here they gave me some empty bags for my clothes, I was also instructed about the pain pump I would be connected to and how it worked and then was told I should send anything I value home with my mom. (Not that Toronto General is rampant with thieves, it's just best not have valuables.) Now, all I really had was my old Casio watch, my Visa card, a Tim's Card preloaded with $40.00, my cell phone and my MP3 player. I wanted to bring my laptop, but figured I'd be way to out of it to use it anyways, so it was agreed before hand that my brother would drop it off for me later in the week.
Next I was shuffled into a change room where I was given the entire pain pump instructions, a blue hair net, set of blue bootie slippers and 2 of the crisp-est, brightest open front robes were handed to me...I was ordered to strip down and put on the robes. Like ya had to ask me twice!! I kicked off my clothes and slipped on the robes! Freedom and sway age! Giggidy! As I was stuffing my street clothes into the plastic bags, in walks this guy and announces:
He: Hey man, scootch up on that table, I gotta shave you.
Me: Sorry, say again?
He: Ya man, I gotta shave you...you gettin' surgery right?
Me: Ummm, No, I'm just here for the back acne trials.
He: What? Back Acne? (goes to door and grabs my chart)
Me: Sorry man, I'm just f**king with you, you aint really gonna shave me are ya?
He: Sorry man, just doin' my job. Believe me, it aint the favorite part of my day either.
Now, I'm a bald guy to begin with, and when I did have hair, it was blonde, thin and very sparse. Even my armpit hair is short! Other than that, I keep everything else 'tidy'. Honestly, I was scared to death! This guy didn't look gentle. So I sheepishly open my robes up .....
He: Oh man, you don't need shaving, your alright to go!
Me: Really? Nothing?
He: Yup, You gots a smooth belly. Take all your gear to the desk and wait for the nurse.
Whew!! Dignity for another day!
At the nurses desk, I met up with my mom, a nurse tied my clothes bags shut and stuck labels on them which I had to sign. We had a short conversation about valuables and were led down a long narrow room. Once again, I was instructed to push the button on my pain pump to get pain medicine. I think I heard this story at least 30 times this day.
Now, for pain management, they hook a central line into your neck. They actually sew it right to your neck! One of these lines is part of an analgesic pump that will deliver a shot of pain killers to your system once a button is pushed. This is your pain control system. You control it. You press the button, it delivers a measured amount of pain medicine. You can't overdose because the machine is set by limiters, but you do control it and this is pounded into you every second before the operation so that once you wake up, you'll know how to get pain relief.
The holding area was cold, it smelled funny and along each wall were gurneys, like 10 on each side!! I was led to one of the beds in space "H". A nurse helped me get into it and covered me with a really warm blanket. Literally, right out of this oven! Mom sat at the foot of this bed and we just started talking about what was going on when out of no where, techs were hoovering all over me. Charts, monitors, IV's, my poor mom looked horrified. After a few minutes, I spotted Cailin, my transplant coordinator. As soon as I saw her, I knew everything would be ok. She was talking to the nurse who led us in. Now, I'm not sure what Cailin said to the nurse, but everything got very orderly and very quiet the second she showed up!! She gave me a wink and a smile and soon I was being rolled off to the OR. Cailin noticed I was missing my compression stockings and told the crew to take me back so I could get fitted, the nurse muttered something about there being no request for compression stockings. So while Cailin actually fitted me for the stockings she schooled the nurse on operational protocol! Me and Cailin joked a little about my sexy new stockings and she walked with me as they rolled me into the OR.
I don't remember much after being wheeled in. I know some really big guy was laying out trays and trays of surgical instruments, the room itself was cold and I had to scootch onto this really thin table. Some guy put a mask on my face and told me to breathe deep. As I did, some other guy was putting IV lines into my hand. Next thing I knew, I was being told I had to press my pump to get pain relief.
Everything sounded so loud, my head was cloudy but I knew I was awake. As I tried to focus, I did recognize my surgeon near me, a lot of people in white coats wearing masks and I know I saw my brother Ken at the foot of my bed. Suddenly, it felt and sounded like someone stumbled over something...I looked to my left and saw my Mom...I think I said 'easy mommy' thinking she had stumbled over the chair, but she tells me later she didn't stumble. I looked down at my chest and saw the scar...trying to focus on the steri-strips that held the incision together and thought to myself...Holy shit! This really happened and everything went ok. I asked how my recipient was doing and was told he was doing great. They told me they noticed a remarkable difference in his health even before they started to close him up! I felt tears rolling down my face...this just happened, this was real and everything I was going through will actually help someone live a better life. I drifted back into my sleep.
At some point, I was again awake and noticed that my Uncle, Bob Cheeseman, was in front me. I know I shook his hand and he asked me how I was feeling and how I was doing. Seeing Bob in the room made me calm, he promised he would be there and he was. This is all I remember of this day.
Bob Cheeseman received a liver transplant in 2006 after his literally shattered. Very early in this year, I had heard through a family member that Bob might be having trouble with his new liver. After much self debate, I decided to call him and get the scoop on his condition...I was completely ready to offer him a section of my liver. Turns out he was having a bit of trouble with some medicines he was on, but wasn't back on the transplant list. Whew!! Bob didn't need a liver!! Turns out we wouldn't have been a blood match anyways, but it was this phone call that brought me to where I am today. So many people are waiting for organs, I may not have been a perfect match for Bob, but I know I match up with someone.