Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Road to Living Liver Donation

I thought I wouldn't write a blog, because I figured I didn't have too much to say. Besides, I talk too much anyway. :) I decided to go for it anyway, because I know some of you out there reading this will miss the fact that I'm not at work talking to you...those of you know who you are!

Ever since my 16 year old stepson Cayden was diagnosed with
Ulcerative Colitis and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis at age 9, I remember praying a lot and convincing myself that it would never come to a liver transplant, despite what the Stanford docs said. When we originally talked to the liver team doctors from Stanford they mentioned the possibility of living liver donation. The thought of it scared me at the time. I mean the fact that they actually cut you open and surgically remove one of the lobes of your liver, is quite a mental image. I'm the kind of person who can't even watch when I donate blood and get creeped out having the warm line of the blood donation bag run over my wrist. Call me weird, but I'm definitely squeamish in every sense of the word.

It's interesting to think about it now and remember back to the meeting with the docs seven years ago. I recall wondering if this was why God brought me into this marriage. Would I someday be giving part of my liver to Cayden? I never did say anything to Dan or anyone else about it, and I didn't think much about it after that, mostly because his health was relatively stable and things seemed so good for such a long time.

A lot has happened in the last few weeks since being told that it was time to list Cayden for a liver transplant. We kept hearing everyone at the hospital mention living liver donation. Since Dan shared the same blood type as Cayden, he decided to do the work up. It wasn't long before the doctors told him he was not a good candidate to donate. Since we were already at the hospital and we had a few days before we were to come home, I decided to go ahead with my medical work up. Even before I was approved, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to let my fear be in charge of this situation, and told everyone that if I were to be approved, I was prepared to go through with the surgery.

After a week, we found out that I was approved by the head surgeon, the dates were set, and we were officially on the countdown to April 26th for Cayden's liver transplant.

What's been going on since then? A lot, that's for sure. We're going to be gone at least 2 months or more, so of course a housesitter was needed (thanks, Terese...you're the best!). Silly things like buying tons of cat litter and cat food. Depressing things like taxes (yes, found out we owed this year for the first time in years...oh well) and an Advanced Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. Annoying things like figuring out how to pay utilities for companies who do not do online billing and dealing with the insurance company, although I do have to say, we now have a point of contact to get in touch with throughout this process, so I don't have to talk to some random agent everytime. Oh, and one of the most important things...coverage for my 2nd grade friends! Decided upon a great substitute and hope that my kiddos will be ok for the rest of the year. It'll definitely be hard to leave them on the 16th of April.

Despite the busyness, I am doing my very best to take care of this liver of mine. No wine or cocktails for me and I've been trying to get to the gym regularly. That's a little selfish on my part. First, it seems to help when I'm feeling nervous about everything. Also, I'd like to ensure that this 41 year old body bounces back from the surgery quickly...especially since my recovery time is at least 6 to 8 weeks!

Well, that's all for now. More postings later!

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