Orange Gearle

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Monday, February 05, 2007

here a kidney there a kidney

Friday morning my alarm went off at 5:00, no different than any other morning.

I got up and got ready for the day, as usual. Talked to my mom on the phone, they planned to arrive by 6:30. For once, they weren’t early! As 6:30 arrived they pulled in the driveway ready to go. Hollyanne woke long enough to hug her grandma, grandpa and me -- then back to bed for her.

The drive to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics was uneventful, other than the bitter cold. As we turned off the interstate onto Melrose Avenue memories of the seven years I spent in Iowa City flooded back. We passed where I worked, where I lived, where John lived, and were I spent many, many football Saturdays. Rich called as we were approaching the hospital, warned us of a accident (to make sure it wasn’t us), checked to see if we were ok, and indicated he may join us for a while at the hospital if he can. We pulled into the parking ramp, parked and took the skywalk into the hospital.

I directed us to the registration where dad gave all his information, reluctantly. We were only forty minutes early. ☺ The lady at the desk, I cannot remember her name, gave us directions to the UI Heart Care Center, our first stop of the day. Dad was forced to give out much of his information again (annoying but necessary, I suppose). Mom began filling out paper work. She had to list each of Dad’s nine siblings, ages, and if deceased, cause of death. There were also the usual questions designed to provide the doctors with the background information required to best help him.

Before Mom had even finished the two pages of paperwork, Dad was called back to the room. I went with him. Brenda started to take his blood pressure, in the wrong arm. Dad had a fistula put in a few months ago, and as a result nothing is supposed to be done on his right side. Dad promised he wouldn’t tell if she didn’t! So she took his blood pressure again in the left arm and took five vials of blood.

Side note: Dad loves Seinfeld. He didn’t watch it much when it originally aired, however he has enjoyed nearly every episode since syndication. He frequently references Seinfeld to fit situations in his/our lives. The Seinfeld episode that has been referenced as of late is one that centers around Elaine. In this episode, the sponge form of contraception is about to be taken off the market. Elaine purchases as many as she can because this is her birth control of choice. So when she meets a guy, before she has sex with him she has to decide if the man is “sponge worthy”. Dad, of course, finds this hilarious. He says to all that will listen -- today’s appointments are to find out if he is “sponge worthy”, corrects himself and says “kidney worthy”. When Brenda was taking his labs, he made no exceptions and indicated that he was here to see if he was sponge worthy.

After his blood was drawn, Dad had an EKG. Then he was allowed to have a little bit of food. He is diabetic, but was forced to fast for 12 hours before his labs, so he was quite hungry. They allowed just a bit of fruit, due to the tests yet to come.

We waited for a while…during this time I went downstairs and turned in my paperwork for my portion of this whole thing. I also went upstairs and got myself a veggie sandwich. Never mind that it was not even 9:00. I was hungry! And a Diet Pepsi would have to do, no Diet Dr. Pepper, of course.

Dr. Theresa Brennan, cardiologist, came in examine Dad. She did the usual, listened to his heart, made him take deep breaths to listen to his lungs, etc. She indicated that his heart rate is really low, which is actually a good thing. She also said that her husband had a kidney transplant 4 years ago…and that he is doing very well. She checked the strength of his right and left side, and thought it was pretty good considering he had a stroke 10 years ago.

Dr. Brennan was a bit concerned with the noises she was hearing when she listened to his carotid artery and ordered an unltrasound of that area. They were able to get the appointment in today.

Dr. Brennan also suggested that Dad try the stress test on the treadmill rather than the
Dobutamine induced kind. Mom was concerned about him walking on a treadmill, because he is a little bit unsteady, but he was assured that he would have a handrail to use while walking.

After the cardiologist we went downstairs to get a chest x-ray. I ate my sandwich while Dad was getting his x-ray. Then we went down to the first floor and Ashley took him back for an unltrasound on his carotid artery. The entire time my mother was concerned that we were going to get lost. She kept saying, “Now, do you think you know how to get back?” It was good for a laugh or two.

Our morning was complete when we returned to the fourth floor, cardiology, for Dad’s stress test. We had to wait a whole hour before the stress test was to begin. I used to think that I got my impatience from my mother, but after today, I think it’s more from my dad. Sitting and waiting is definitely not among his favorite things.

I went back with Dad to hear the instructions prior to the stress test. On the way back they talked about starting an IV and I told them that Dr. Brennan had suggested we NOT do the drug-induced stress test. They had no idea. ☹ So when we got back to the room we waited while they talked it over with people to make a decision. They ended up doing the Dobutamine induced stress test after all. I stayed in the room while they did an ultrasound of his heart. This was very interesting. I could see the walls of the heart, the valves move, etc. Very interesting. They had a difficult time getting the IV started. Once again he was asked all the same questions. Are you allergic to any medications? Have you ever had a heart attack? Etc. Funny though, when I mentioned that he’s had a stroke ten years ago, they had no idea!! Good grief, Charlie Brown!!!!

One of the ladies asked him for his birth date – again. Dad told her, and then said, “Have you ever heard the one about the guy that didn’t know how old he was?” As she was shaving his chest for the stickies, she said “No.” Dad continued with his joke….

“He was asked, ‘When is your birthday?’ and so he said, “September 23”. ‘What year?’ “well, every year!”

The three women laughed politely as if it was actually a funny joke. Dad was pleased.

I waited in the lobby while Dr. Schmid performed the stress test on my father’s heart.

I will admit that this was the part I was worried about. The Howe’s notoriously have good hearts. In fact, it seems like sometimes the rest of their body gives out, but that heart just won’t let them die. So, I’m not sure why this was scary for me, but it was. I was very thankful to see him walk into the lobby with the nurse beside him giving me the thumbs up!

While we waited for Dr. Brennan to return to give us the test results, Rich called, asked where we were, and then came right over. He was there when Dr. Brennan came in to tell us that from a cardiology standpoint, he was at a low risk for any complications.

The four of us went to lunch.

After lunch Rich returned to his job and the three of us returned to the Surgery Out Patient Clinic to meet with the Nephrologist, Dr. Bertolatus.

Once again my dad was poked and prodded, asked all the same questions and then a few more. Dr. Bertolatus completed his medical assessment and then talked to us about the basic risks of kidney transplant. He was very honest with the worst case scenarios and in the end told us that he thought dad was more than healthy enough to have the surgery, and from his standpoint at low risk for complications.

Next came the social worker. I think basically her job was to find out if dad was nuts and if he would have support after the surgery. ☺ It was nice listening and contributing to this portion of the day because when you list it all out there, we are really lucky to have so many friends and family members around us and supportive of us. This portion of the day was pretty funny. Dad’s sense of humor was obvious. Actually, our whole family’s sense of humor was apparent.

Finally, the last person that we met with was Shelley, BSN. She walked us through what happens next. Soon, Dad needs to meet with the surgeon and get some more blood drawn. Then Shelley will present Dad’s case to a panel of doctors and the will give the ok to move ahead. It is then that I will be tested. It sounds like there is very little chance that I won’t be a match. That’s good news.

There are six or seven code matches they look for….three are the most important….but they even do 0 point transplants. So, odds are, I will have one less kidney in a few months, and Dad will be feeling a lot better. ☺