I scheduled this post to go live while our liver transplant is happening. So as you read this, please pray for my cousin and I in surgery! I’ll talk about the past few weeks and what I expect to happen in the next day or so.
Preparing for Transplant Again
Having done this once before, I realize I feel a lot less on top of it this time. I began taking a bile thinner 1 week before the transplant, but accidentally took one or too extra at some point?
Last time I had weened myself off coffee and quit dairy and most meats. This time…I’ve just greatly reduced consumption but…that’s about it.
With three days to go, I started taking a daily stool softener. Apparently your bowels go to sleep in surgery and it takes some time for them to wake up. If you don’t want a painful traffic jam all up in there, you start clearing out the riff raff early.
Mentally, I’ve felt unfocused. Because we’d been here before in August, I’d already completed and gone through with most of my pre-transplant to-dos. This past week I’ve had a lot less to worry about. Therefore, I’ve been thinking a lot less about it. Therefore, it’s been hard to shake the feeling that I’m not prepared. If that makes sense. I’ve been watching my fantasy football scores and canning.
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This is what biting off more than you can chew for a Saturday looks like. 20 lbs of apples and 20 lbs of peaches in process to be 6 quarts of applesauce, 6 (maybe?) pints of apple butter, and who knows yet how many cans of sliced peaches. Instant Pot is definitely saving me time with the apples. This is my third year canning. Peaches are the new fruit this year. Bought all the fruit from the farm store but hoping in a few years I'll be canning from our own fruit trees! 😅
The last time we were days away from the transplant date, all the uncertainty was an excellent reminder that this is and was always God’s show. Instead of coasting in to the finish line, we’ve had to rely even more heavily on Him; to follow His lead and trust His timing and plan.
I can micromanage my diet and exercise all I want,
but I’m still not in control of the outcome
of this transplant for me or my cousin.
Coming back from the postponed transplant trip, J and I decided to run the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon Relay. It was something to look forward too when we were disappointed to be coming home. Just one of the few extra things from these past few weeks that became a pleasant surprise.
Checking in on Sept 14th
So, this is the plan for the transplant. We’ll fly to San Francisco on Thursday (9/14) morning. At 3PM I’ll check in to the main hospital at UCSF Parnassus. I’ll get some blood drawn, an IV port put in and go on a clear liquid restriction until midnight. Check my Instagram. Probably a post or two already.
I’ll visit my cousin’s room down the hall. I already gave him the card signed by my church family and a personal letter as well. So this time I’ll probably just talk with him about how awesome my fantasy football team is and he’ll probably not give a flying poo. Haha.
Before Surgery on Sept 15
At 5AM our families can see us before we go into pre-op. I have a notebook I hope they will write in while we’re in surgery. Things they’re thinking about or what updates the nurses gave them. I also have two “waiting room” letters, one for my husband and one for my mom to read.
My waiting ends when I go to sleep, but for my husband and mother, they have 6 to 7 hours of stressful waiting before it is over for them. I hope the letters and notebook will help make that time easier.
Once we go into pre-op, only one person can be there with each of us until we are wheeled into surgery.
Living donor surgery is unique in that two different surgical teams in two different (but nearby) operating rooms are working at the same time. It takes a lot of people, expertise and equipment to pull this off.
I get to start first. Around 7:00 AM or so I should be in the operating room, dreaming away. I’ll get a breathing tube and urinary catheter.The surgical team will make sure everything looks good before giving the recipient team the go ahead. I also have a disposable camera so some observing medical student can snap some photos of me for me. I know…it sounds weird but, I think I’ll be glad for the photos later? Probably.
Then my cousin will go under the knife, about an hour later. His surgical team has to remove his bad liver and make sure everything looks good on his end.
My gall bladder will be removed. Then the right lobe of my liver will be cut out and sent over to my cousin’s operating room. Then I’ll get stitched back together.
My surgery will take 6 to 7 hours. However, my cousin’s will take longer. Taking something apart is never as easy as trying to put it back together.
24 Hrs in ICU
I’ll be in ICU for 24 hours. They say I’ll wake up but I won’t remember it. One visitor can come in at a time, at the nurse’s discretion.
My cousin will still be in ICU for 2 or 3 days. It can take some time for his new liver to wake up. If at all possible, I’ll visit him while he is still in ICU. My donor mentor said you can hear the liver rhythm on the monitors, like a heartbeat, but a liverbeat!
Hospital for 5 to 7 Days
On Saturday evening/Sunday morning I should wake up in a recovery room on 9 Long. I’ll have a button to give myself pain meds. I’ll take liver enzymes to help my remnant liver grow. They’ll want me up and walking right away. The better I am at getting a move on, the quicker my recovery will go.
I’ll have a catheter for a couple days. I’ll wear slip-proof socks as I walk circles around 9 Long. If I do 12 laps, or something, I get a t-shirt. If I do 43 laps I’ll match my donor mentor’s total distance. He and his wife plan on visiting on Sunday and do a few laps with me.
If I get a private room, J or my mom can stay the night with me. They’ll take turns caring for the bubs while the other one is resting or visiting me. I may not get to see bubs for several days (which makes me tear up).
Once my cousin is out of ICU, he’ll also be in 9 Long for 7 to 10 days.
How you can support us:
There are three things you can do and we greatly appreciate your support!
1: Help out with a small donation. My cousin’s family is incurring a lot of expenses that his insurance does not help cover. If many people give a little (like $15), then it will make a huge difference.
2. Pray for his health and recovery, as well as mine and for our families. Your prayers are not pointless. I have seen the power of prayer work so many times in this process. Even if you’re not sure what to pray for or how, just take some time to let our family come to focus in your heart and ask simply God to do His thing in our situation.
3. Buy a prayer reminder and wear your support. I created a T-shirt fundraiser as well. I know the benefit of having something (a shirt or a mug) to visually remind you to pray and show your support for our family.
As a bonus, you can pin, share or tweet to help keep our broader community updated on what’s going on. Sometimes social media doesn’t share certain posts very effectively. So the more shares the better. And I’d personally love to see you wearing your shirt! So post and tag me.