Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Thoughts Part III

Holy Jeeze!! The past few days have been ''weird''. I woke up this morning feeling fine, then about an hour later I felt really light-headed, nauseous and dizzy! Still feel a bit dizzy now, especially if I tilt my head or bend down. I hate that feeling and have no idea why I have it!!

I really can't, or shouldn't complain though, life is good! That being said, this blog is my outlet to vent and share every experience of my organ donation with those who drop by! Not that my dizziness is from the surgery, I'm just complaining about being dizzy! The other odd thing that's been driving me insane lately is my belly feels really hot, like sunburn hot! The whole area just under my belly isn't red though, it just feels very hot. I asked the surgeon about this during my one month follow up visit and he said it was the nerves and muscle tissue reconnecting. The one good thing is my incision is no longer's really red and angry looking, but not weeping!

It's been six weeks since the surgery and I'm going stir-crazy sitting inside. My discharge instructions state "Walking is the only exercise recommended in the first six weeks. After six weeks gradually resume normal physical activities." Soooo, the other day I tried to rake some leaves! It felt really good to actually do something constructive and I made sure not to push myself to hard. That being said, I did realize that my I was using my back muscles more than my stomach muscles. Thinking about it now, I kind of wish the hospital had some kind of exercise program for donors to help or quicken the healing process. Besides, I caught a 'mirrored' glimpse of my naked body coming out of the shower the other day and from the side I looked like a Dr. Seuss character! Granted, I was never really super toned or buff to begin with, but this was just gross! I need to get me & the belly back in shape! So much to do...yikes!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


First of all, my apologies for not posting earlier. I just didn't have any real exciting stuff to ramble on about!

Today however, is a banner day! Celebrate and rejoice my friends, for today marks the last of my self administered blood thinner injections! Yaaaaa!!! As a matter of fact, I have recorded the process for prosperity and will post this video here on these very pages so everyone may share in the festivities! There may even be cake!

Before I continue, I must first introduce more Toronto General Hospital Staff and acknowledge a few people.

Dr. Mark Cattral - Surgeon:

This was my surgeon. Not to gloat or anything, but this guy is like one of, if not THE best surgeon in his field! Dr. Cattral is also a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, he's the director of the Pancreas Transplantation Program, and he holds the CIHR/Astellas Chair in Transplantation Research. Apart from having the most velvety soft hands of anyone I have ever met, he is a multi organ transplant surgeon with expertise in live-donor liver transplantation and pancreas transplantation. I'm also not ashamed to say Dr. Cattral is freakishly handsome.

Julia Cervenko - TGH Pharmacist:

I only met Julia once, and that was the Friday before I was discharged. It wasn't a long meeting, maybe half an hour or so but I was so impressed! She went over all my medications and how to use them. Never have I spent so much time talking with a woman about pooh, the importance of pooh and the mechanics of discharging said pooh! She even made me a cool instruction-chart to follow with all my new and existing medications on it! She was even ready to show me how to do the injections but didn't have to as the sweet Cailin Macleod already did. Once all was said and done, she made sure all the medications I would need would be ready for pick up at the hospital pharmacy....and it was!

Terri - Nurse:

OMFG! I wish I knew Terri's last name..but I don't. Take no offence, but I can only describe Terri as "The Coolest Chick I Have Ever Met"! I would have stayed in the hospital for another week if I knew Terri would be my nurse. Such a little thing, but just cool as a buddy. Hard to explain really, easy to talk to, helpful, gentle, her laugh too. Hey, I'm not the only one, several people on the floor loved Terri!! On the day I went home, Terri dropped by to punish me with the dreaded ''cotton swab'' test! Yes, the same test Olive made me do during my pre-admin tests! Terri wasn't as cavalier as Olive though and I had to do my own swabbing. Truth be known, it was probably better this way....I will say no more.

David Conroy - Liver Donor:

David donated part of his liver to his uncle back in December of 2008. Earlier in my quest, I was trying to connect with other donors to get a feeling of what I was getting myself into. Cailin gave me a few names and I tried contacting them, but none ever got back to me...except for David. He and I met at the Starbucks inside Toronto General one day while I was getting tested. Our chat only lasted about an hour but I learned a ton from him. Nice to hear what to expect from someone who's been through it! Thanks David, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to spend it with me!

Bryan Whitehead - Administrative Assistant:

Bryan's a good boy! A little intense at times but what a hoot he is! As the administrative assistant for the living donor liver program, he is Cailins right-hand man. He scheduled most of my appointments and kept in contact with me through the entire testing process. Got a question? He had an answer! I watched him lovingly carry a coffee from the corridors of the 10th floor down to the blood lab one day and his hand didn't move the entire time. There's a picture of him below.....snappy dresser AND surgeon-ly soft hands!

As I've said before, the great staff at Toronto General are the best-est! If I never run into any of these people again, I hope they all realize what a profound impact they've had on me and my families lives. I will see them again though...they are family!

More to come!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One Month Follow-Up

Well, my 1 month follow-up appointment was uneventful. So uneventful I wasn't even able to drop by the Lindt Chocolate factory for any treats 'cause I was running kind of late! My first stop was for blood tests. Once I registered at the lab, I only had a short wait until they called me in. The tech that did greeted me was one I had never seen before. Actually, I didn't recognize any of the techs in the whole department this day! Still, the lady was nice enough and she only took 3 & out in less than 10 minutes!

With blood work finished, I had about 2 hours to kill before my surgical consult so I headed to the Transplant Office to visit with Cailin. Turns out, she wasn't in the office so I watched 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' on my I-touch thingy in the waiting room till she came back. Now, as much as I enjoy just visiting with the sweet angel Cailin, I also needed her to fill out a package of forms for my work benefits. Once she came back to the office, I gave her the forms and we had a great little visit. One thing to note here is the Transplant Office isn't some dark and dingy place filled with emotionless robotic's a friendly place! Not only that, but they work miracles here.

Before I left, I tried to get a picture of Cailin for the blog. This is the best I could get though. Cailin is a pro at avoiding the camera!

Bryan on the other hand, is not camera shy.

My meeting with the surgeon was at 2:00 pm, so a quick dash to the 10th floor where I was ushered into an examination room. My surgeon was Dr. Cattral and to be honest, today was the first day I actually met him! I think I might have seen him in the recovery room on floor 7, but at that time I was in a drug induced haze and remember very little. In any case, he greeted me and asked me some questions about how I felt, how I was healing and how I thought everything went. He gave my incision the once over and told me everything was progressing really good. I didn't really have any questions for him apart from some general 'back-to-my-old-self' queries. All in all, this meeting lasted less than 20 minutes and I was on my way home again. My next round of follow-ups will be my 3 month check-up and that isn't until December 3rd.

Once I got home, I felt something wet against my shirt. Once I checked it out, I noticed my incision was leaking a little at the very bottom. Nothing too serious I hope...just need to keep an eye on it. When I got up Friday morning, my shirt was sticking to the incision site at the bottom and it hurt! I cleaned it up and bathed it in Ozonol and went about my day. Friday night I woke up around midnight because my shirt felt wet in one spot and again, the incision is weeping near the bottom. Looking at it today however, it isn't so bad. Maybe I slept on it funny. In any case, I'll keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slide Show!

So I was fooling around with the blog tonight and added a slide show thingy. Look to the right of the screen and it's there somewhere. All those photos were taken by my brother the day of my transplant surgery. I hope to add more photos in the near future, but for now..this is what you get! I find it strange that when I look at these pictures, I can smell hospital! Weird huh? In fact, the shirt and track pants I wore home after the surgery still smell like hospital. Bleeh!

Tomorrow I head back to the big city for my 1 month follow-up. Blood tests and a meeting with the surgeon. It's gonna be fun fun FUN!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quick Update

This is just a quick update...and it's all about MEEEE!! My surgery was four weeks ago yesterday! I've been home a little over 3 weeks and things are going very well! As of today, I only have 12 more of the shots to give myself, (Tinzaparin, to prevent blood clots) the use of pain killers is minimal and I'm still smoke-free!! My incision is looking really good and it isn't really that painful anymore. Sleep is still sporadic and uncomfortable, I still walk a little hunched when I first get up from a sitting position, reaching and bending is tough and my belly growls all the time. Actually, I have good days and bad days, but all my complaints are minor. That being said, I headed to a friends house on Saturday for a birthday celebration. The drive to his place usually takes me between 45 minutes to an hour. On this day it took forever! The roads were all torn up for re-paving and every bump and ridge I hit on the road was magnified 10 times! I actually had to stop in three towns just to relax!

On Thursday October 15th, I have my 1 month follow-up at Toronto General. Just another round of blood tests and an in-clinic meeting with my surgeon. I think everything should be ok.

My brother and his wife took a bunch of photos the day of the transplant, I will try to post them later along with some new links.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Commercial: In Our Lifetime

Located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation is one of the world's top five cancer research hospitals. This commercial features actual doctors, patients, nurses, and volunteers telling their own stories and the hospital's in their movement to conquer cancer in our lifetime.

Probably one of, if not THE most moving commercials I have ever seen....and it's here in Canada!! Kind of makes you proud doesn't it?

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Donor Pin

On my desk, I have this little canister full of little trinkets that I've collected over the years. In it you'll find some old bottle caps, a few nifty looking rocks, a bunch of little toys and some pins that I was given for whatever reason....every time I find a new little treasure, I put it in this canister with all my other treasures.

I'm not sure of the time line, but I think the day after I donated my liver, my transplant coordinator Cailin, dropped by my room for a visit. After the visit, she handed me an envelope which contained a schedule of follow-up appointments for after care. Fastened to the corner of that envelope was this pin below. It's my donor pin, and probably my most cherished treasure ever.

Friday, October 2, 2009

2 Week Follow-up

Yikes!! I'm getting lazy at updating this blog again.

Today marks the second week since I've been home...yaaaahhhh!!! I continue to mend and my progress improves daily!! a point. My scar is healing really good! It's wierd, the scar itself is numb to the touch, but it gets super itchy and painful! Another good thing I can report is pretty much all of the food going in my system, has no trouble coming out! No more stool softeners or laxatives for this guy!! I never thought I would get so excited to pinch off a solid turd! The only pain medication I'm taking now is the occasional Tylenol..and that's just to take the edge off and as of today, I only have 20 more of the blood thinner shots to give myself. I guess the only real complaint I would have is I'm still having trouble sleeping and finding a comfortable spot to sleep in. The really strange thing is just how incredibly fast I tire! Seriously!! I eat some toast and eggs and I'm winded, I need a nap. I make a smoothie and drink half of it, I need a nap. Climb the stairs to the bathroom and my hearts a beatin'!! I don't even have the energy to stand when I pee!! Sitting isn't too bad, but I do get fidgety after a while. But all in all, things are progressing quite smoothly!

So I had my first follow-up appointment on Wednesday. I was to have some blood drawn at the hospital lab and then visit with Dr. Lesley Adcock in the transplant clinic. When I got to the blood lab, it was packed! I registered at the desk and went to find a seat in the waiting room. I didn't have to wait long before they called my name and the coolest thing was both myself and the blood tech recognized one another the moment our eyes met! We chatted for a bit and she drew three vials of blood. I asked if that was normal because usually, they take more. She said 3 vials was all they needed and if something bad shows up from those three vials, they would take more. When I got up to leave, I got a hug from the tech and headed up for my visit with Dr. Adcock.

The transplant clinic is on the 12th floor. I'd been there for meetings in the past and the place was fairly void of people. This day however, it was pretty active! I took a seat and started reading a magazine when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked around and there was my sweet angel Cailin. She sat with me for a while and we chatted for a bit. I promised I would drop by her office on my way out.

Dr. Adcock, (Lesley) called me in shortly after and lead me to an examination room. Now, Toronto General is a teaching hospital, so from time to time students will sit in with Dr's during an examination....this examination included a student! The exam itself was pretty straight forward, lots of poking and pressing around my incision site and some standard blood pressure and temperature checks. The funny thing about the exam was every question Lesley asked me, was a question I had for her. For example, before I could ask her when to expect my appetite to return, she would ask me how my appetite was doing! This went on for every question! End results? My incision is healing well, the itchy feeling will be there for quite some time but it looks good. My blood work came back fine, blood pressure was normal and my chest sounds clear.

Her final question to me was totally unexpected and it caught me off guard. She asked me if there was anything she, or any other transplant team member could have said or done to better prepare me for the donor experience. Of course there was absolutely nothing anyone could have said or done to better prepare me or anyone for this experience. I was warned at every meeting about pain levels and how uncomfortable I would be. I knew the healing process would be long and I knew I wouldn't be 'RiverDancing' to the washroom anytime soon. Every individual experience would be uniquely different, yet I was so amazed and impressed they would even ask that question! All I could think was just how amazing this hospital is! Every staff member has been courteous and friendly, and I've been treated with dignity and respect every step of the way. The miracles they perform here save lives and they want to know if they could have done anything more to better prepare me?? Sheesh!!

Just before I left, I dropped by Cailins office for a chat. I also talked for a bit with Bryan Whitehead, an administrative assistant with the transplant office. I need to explain something here. While I was healing, I never took the compression stockings off. Sure they were tight, but man were they warm! The best part of them was if they got too warm, you could slip your foot out of them and cool down! My outfit of choice was the stockings, Curious George boxers and an open front robe. I wore this in my room, I wore this when I walked the halls and I even wore this once to get coffee at the Tim Hortons on the ground floor! I also told Cailin & Bryan I would wear this outfit at home. Needless to say, I got a fair bit of ribbing for this! A hug from Cailin topped my day and I headed for the exit. As I made my way to the elevators I realized just how much I miss this place! Not the hospital, but the staff. I go back in two weeks for more follow-up appointments but I will post more pictures and stuff before then.

''As is my custom, I decided to drop into the Lindt Chocolate Outlet store on Kennedy Road before my appointments. Now, I'm no stranger to the Lindt building, but I have had to stay away from the place in recent months because of my testing. (Yes, I gave up chocolate for the transplant) In any case, most of the staff there know me by name and I get a lot of hugs when I visit there. One of the women, Rose-Marie, is a true sweetheart. She greets everyone in the store with a smile and is always friendly. Very easy to chat with and always genuine. I had told her in a recent visit of my organ donor transplant plan and she's been supportive of me from the get-go. So I gather up a whack of chocolatey treats (for the hospital staff) and am waiting in line to pay for them. I figured Rose-Marie was on break, I asked the girl at the register if she was around. I was then informed that Rose-Marie had lost her husband suddenly the week before. Not the kind of news I wanted to hear, my thoughts are with Rose-Marie today.''