Sunday, October 3, 2010

1 Year MRI & Blood Tests

As usual, the frequent updates I promised to post haven't been so frequent! In all honesty, I'm just not good at talking about myself nor do I have any real earth-shattering donor related news to share. That said, I do have events in the works that I will post here as details become more concrete.

My one year anniversary has come and gone and I am doing great! I went for some blood tests at my local Life-Lab, and had the MRI on September 19th at Toronto General. The MRI was scheduled for Sunday at 4:00 pm. Ok, so I couldn't eat anything or drink anything 5 hours before the MRI, needless to say I was thirsty as all hell and hungry by the time I got there. The worst was driving into the afternoon sun to get to TGH. All these things combined, festered a migraine...which I had no medicine for. More on that later though.

The odd thing about my MRI appointment is that the imaging department at TGH is closed on Sundays, so I had to proceed to a waiting room down the hall and sign a sheet there. It wasn't busy, there were only 3 people waiting in the room and only 1 of them had the 'I'm getting an MRI gown' on. When the tech came to fetch this person, she handed me some gowns and told me to go change. Now, if you've read any of my other posts, you know I'm a huge fan of the gowns. Best thing ever? There was one gown, and some wicked cool draw-string pants! I didn't even know they had matching pants to the gowns! Needless to say, I was in heaven! I may, or may not have stolen those pants by the way...I just wore them.

When the tech came for me, I put all my other clothes in a locker and headed for the scan. It was a two part scan, the first series of scans they would do would require me to hold my breath and not move while the machine took the pictures. The second part of the scan was a normal scan.. Once I was all strapped into the machine and the headphone were on me is when my migraine started throbbing. I was trapped though..I couldn't move and there was no way I was going to bail on the test now! Grin and bear it I thought...the test took forever and that sound shook me to the core. When the test was over, I changed back into street clothes and may have forgotten to leave the hospital pants there and headed saving grace was I did have one Relpax in the car, but by the time I took it, I was already doomed. I actually ended up taking the Monday off work because of the migraine.

The sole purpose of the MRI was to obtain a baseline for the 1 year mark. The blood tests were pretty much the same ones I've had at every testing interval post surgery. Here's the breakdown!

CBC - The complete blood count test determines general health status and screens for, and monitors, a variety of disorders like anemia.

Glucose - Measures glucose in the blood to determine healthy ranges.

Creatine - This test measures kidney function so they look for abnormal creatine levels.

Sodium & Potassium - Blood sodium/potassium testing is used to detect electrolyte imbalances and in my case, to check for any disease or condition involving the liver or kidneys that may be caused by deficiency or excess of potassium/sodium.

Chloride - Never ordered by itself, this test is part of the above potassium/sodium test.

AST & ALT- Is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain enzymes in the blood. If the liver is damaged or injured for any reason, AST and/or ALT enzymes will spill into the blood stream. AST is short for 'aspartate aminotransferase' and ALT is short for 'alainine aminotransferase'...both are enzymes within the liver.

ALP & Bilirubin - These are liver function tests that show how well a persons liver is working. These tests will detect high levels or low levels of liver enzymes that could prove the presence of disease.

Urea - Measures the amount of urea nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism, in the blood. Once again, for the detection of liver failure.

PT, PTT & INR - These are a group of tests to measure how quickly your blood clots. PT measures the ability to clot, PTT determins if there is a blood clotting disorder and INR is a kind of comparison test to make sure results from one lab is the same as another.

So there you have it! All these tests have come back with excellent results, I'm healed up and doing fantastic! Long term effects so far? I have the scar and some numbness around the scar but as far as function goes...I'm doing awesome! From here on in I only have to have tests done once a year. This isn't the end of my journey though...just the end of THIS journey. Check back as the second part of my journey continues.