Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Special Report

Turns out my Mom kept a journal of her own the night before, and the day of my surgery.

September 13,09 7:00pm

It is the evening before Chris becomes a living donor of his liver. Valery (sister-in-law) is driving us to Toronto and we will be staying in a hotel so it will be easier for us to get to Toronto General by 6:00 am. Valery managed to get us there safely through detours, single lanes and very fast traffic.
After Valery dropped us off, Chris was able to get us a room at 'Day's Inn' @ Carlton. We had a nice room on the 18th floor, Chris tried to watch some T.V. for a bit then set his watch alarm...then lights off. I think I was up seven times for a pee that night! The watch alarm went off at 4:00 am and Chris fell back to sleep. I waited for the next alarm --- thought an hour may have passed, but it turned out it was 5:30 am!! Chris said ''that can't be right.'' It was and we hurried to dress, went down to check out and did a quick walk to the hospital. We went to the second floor admin where we waited about 1/2 hour. Then, we went into a very large room lined with many hospital beds and Chris was instructed to remove his street clothes and put on the 'double robes'....he was then escorted to one of the beds and things got a little crazy.

Questions were being asked by several people at once, rubber bands were being tied to Chris's upper arm, needles were being inserted in order to freeze his wrists (yes, both wrists) for intravenous lines. Two gentlemen appeared and introduced themselves as the team that would be putting him to sleep and monitoring all concerns after Chris would be put out. Blood pressure was taken, blood samples were drawn, the IV lines were in both one point, there were seven people at his bedside.

At this point, Cailin Macleod, the transplant coordinator, showed up and said she was very upset. Apparently it was discussed that only ONE wrist would have a line in it. She was ""cross her arms"" angry!!

Cailin said for me to expect lines to record blood pressure, heart monitors and body temperatures. She also said once Chris was asleep, another line would be placed into his neck and sewn into place. She also said there might be tubes placed down his throat if he had been throwing up and that he would also have several lines giving him fluids and medicines hanging from his bed. She told me "don't be overwhelmed Elaine because all of it is normal. She then asked us why Chris wasn't wearing the compression stockings. One of the nurses said they weren't ordered. This didn't please Cailin too much either and at this point, Cailin started to put the stockings on Chris herself. Believe me, it was an art form the way she managed to get them up over his knees without a struggle or a wrinkle!. Then they started to move your bed out. Someone said give mom a kiss, and Chris said no kisses and away he went. He really had a shocked look on his face, I think he was as overwhelmed as I was with everything.

Cailin then took me to the third floor waiting room, it was now about 7:30 am and the room itself was quite dark. She said I should go to the far side of the room because it wouldn't get as noisy there. She took Chris's glasses and said was she sure he would do well. She also said a nurse would come tell me when all the tests were complete and that Chris was asleep. She gave me a hug, then left.

Now, there must have been 40 to 50 upholstered chairs in this room, but no sofas. There were only nine other people here besides myself...there are two walls with large windows and I am watching the comings and goings in the lobby below. I am so pissed off right now because I left my papers in the waiting room upstairs. Cailin told me I should stay in the 'West Wing' of the hospital, she said to go to the "L" floor from the elevator, then up the stairs to find the Tim Hortons, so at 8:30 am, I went to get a coffee, muffin and took my own medications.

A gentleman just came to me, asked me my name and then looked at his clipboard. He said I see his surgeon is Dr. Cattral..he is the best of the best! He also said a nurse would be coming to tell me that surgery has started and that in 4 to 5 hours later, the doctor would come to speak to me. He also asked if Chris was giving to a family member and I told him it was an anonymous donation. Hearing this he had that look about him that we have seen a 100 times since this journey started. I can't stop crying just now, and I think it's because I haven't heard anything yet...I'm working on it, it's hard though. Everything has to work out, it just has to!

It's now 9:10 am and the pre-op nurse came to tell me Chris is asleep. She stood at attention to show me how he was positioned. She said all tubes are in place including the central lines sewn into the neck, all monitors are connected and that Dr. Cattral will now be making the first incision. They will check all the bile ducts and if everything checks out ok, then the surgery continues. This is all just so overwhelming!

10:45 am and it seems as though I've been here for 8 hours. According to the transplant schedule, it's close to the time the recipient is to go into the OR. I hope all is going well. One of the transplant coordinator people just went outside with a coffee and a smoke. Seeing him out there now I want a smoke too!! Also, there is a very large blue bus coming and going. It is the shuttle bus for Toronto General, Toronto Western, and Princess Margaret Hospitals.

Ok, it's noon and I will be watching for Bob Cheeseman. This room has really filled with people and I have no chairs around me because other people have moved them away. Hopefully, some of these people will leave so Bob, myself and Ken (brother) will be able to sit together.

Bob showed up at about 12:30 and we went down to get coffees. When we got back, Ken was there and I was so very glad to see him! Bob kept us entertained with the story of his transplant.

At 3:05 pm, Dr. Cattral came in said everything went very well. there absolutely were no issues and there was minimal bleeding. He said Chris would be in the recovery unit for the next three hours and that someone would let us know when we could see him. All of this is good news, and yet I cry again. Soon after, Ken went to pick an item he should have picked up over a year ago in Toronto. While he was gone, Bob continued with his story. It is remarkable that he is here to share his story with anyone!

Cailin, the transplant coordinator, came back at 5:00 pm. She said Chris did very well and that he was feeling a lot of pain. She also said the recipients family was in the waiting room on the 10th floor, very near Chris's room, and that we must now wait until 5:30 or 6:00 pm before we go up. Also, on our way there, we must not talk about transplants or livers just in case the recipients family would be near! She also said for the next few days, Chris's pain would be almost unbearable! At 5:30 pm, Ken called up to the 10th floor to ask if we would be able to visit and they responded not until 9:00 pm.

It was about 6:00 pm when we decided we were going up, all they could do was kick us out! It wasn't hard to find Chris, but it was hard to watch what he was going through. He kept saying 'pain' in a very weak voice. It seemed to me he was feeling for the pain relief pump button but it wasn't there! I finally went to the nurse stationed just outside his room and asked the nurse if Chris should have the pain pump button. She said they had to take it away because his stats were going crazy!! His heart beat was way too high and I said mine would be too if I was in so much pain!! She calmly stated that Chris would have the pump back by midnight or 2:00 am!! When I went back into the room, I tried to explain to Chris why he couldn't have the pain pump and all he said was ''it hurts''.

Ken was taking a lot of pictures and at one point asked Chris for a thumbs up. Remarkably, he quickly gave it for him. Chris also asked if Bob Cheeseman had made it there, he said 'I'm glad' when we said yes. Bob actually decided to stay behind when we came to see Chris so we could have the privacy. He did however come in about 1/2 hour after us and Chris told him thanks for sitting with mom. In the hour we were there, Chris probably mentioned the word pain 15 times!! He couldn't sleep and the nurse said his pain pump was set at .01. Just then the big guy came in! The doctor with a huge head of hair! He laid his four fingers over the top of Chris's hand and silently looked at all the monitors, the pumps, (there were 3 of them) then bent a bit to look at the bag for urine...which at this time had only teaspoons full in it. He then asked if we knew why he didn't have the pain management button. We told him they took it because of the stats. He looked at all machinery again and said Christopher needs this pain pump. He went to the nurse outside of the room and both he and the nurse returned together, reset some buttons on the machinery, placed the pain pump button into Chris's hand and watched as Chris's fingers walked their way to the top and pressed the pain release button. I cried. A short while later, he was trying to open his eyes, he turned his head towards the doctor and said 'recipient', the doctor looked at me at I told him Chris wanted to know about the recipient. He took Chris's hand, looked him in the eye and said it was remarkable how very quickly his (the recipients) color improved. as he talked, Chris's chin began to quiver and tears rolled down his face. He did what he had set out to do.

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