Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Tough Day

I find it interesting that all of the other times I've sat down at my computer to write a blog entry, everything just sort of "came out" naturally and without much effort. Today just doesn't seem to be the case. I'm not sure if it's because these were the last of my appointments prior to surgery or that I am feeling pretty emotional and realizing the reality of the fact that today I met with the man who will, on Monday, literally hold my life in his hands.

Because Cayden has had his own appointments, has been attending school this week, and the majority of my appointments have been "evaluative" in nature, Dan has not been with me for my previous appointments. Thank goodness he was there with me this morning, because I'd say today's was the toughest yet. All the way to the hospital, my stomach was in double knots.

When they took us back to do my vitals, my blood pressure was 131/83, much higher than where I normally hover around. We waited for a bit before the surgical fellow came in and asked if we had any questions about the surgery. I wondered about how soon I might be able to exercise, how long would my stay in the ICU be, will the family all be able to wait in the same place, and a bunch of other questions including the all important...when can I have a glass of wine? Funny for being a "fellow", she couldn't answer very many of my questions with certainty. After waiting for what seemed like forever, at about 11:30, we finally met Dr. Esquivel, "the liver guy". He is in charge of the entire liver transplant program here at Stanford and will be my surgeon. Dr. Esquivel is soft spoken with kind brown eyes. He has a thick Spanish accent, and judging by his lanyard around his neck, I'd venture to guess that either his country of origin is Costa Rica or that's where he's been hanging out for the last few weeks (We had been informed that he was out of the country prior to the surgery).

Dr. Esquivel started by asking me if I had any questions about the surgery. I again asked some of the same questions I had asked the fellow but got some real answers this time. I did ask about the "two-fer" surgery. Due to the nature of this surgery and the risks, he didn't feel it would be a good idea to do the hysterectomy that I was hoping for. After listening to his rationale, I trusted that he had my safety and best interest at heart. That will just have to wait until later in the year. I was disappointed to find out that my parents will have to wait in the the Stanford Hospital waiting area in order to get updates on my surgery, while everyone else (including Dan!) would have to wait in the Lucile Packard waiting area to get updates on Cayden. It was all I could do to keep myself from crying when I heard this. I know I've said all along that I want Dan to be there for Cayden, but hearing that hit me in a way that I wasn't prepared for. The conversation moved to all of the possible complications that could occur as a result of the surgery...internal bleeding, bile duct leakage, liver failure, death, infection, deep vein thrombosis. I think I am getting used to hearing all of these things. I felt much better hearing from him that Stanford has had excellent success with their right lobe transplants from the donor standpoint.

After we were satisfied that all of our questions had been answered, Dr. Esquivel got real serious. What came out of his mouth next really hit the two of unexpectedly. He said, "This thing you are doing is very altruistic. I know there is already a special place reserved for you in heaven." A HUGE lump developed in my throat, and I was pretty certain both Dan and I were going to lose it right then and there. I wasn't quite sure what to say at that moment, but I immediately thought how blessed I was to have such a man of faith as my surgeon. I finally told him that we have heard many great things about him and that I trusted that we were going to be in excellent hands. He said, "I will do the very best that I can." And I believe that he will.

I was late getting to my pre-anesthesia appointment and Dan was late getting Cayden over to the psychologist. It didn't really matter, though, as they were able to get me right in to take care of all the necessary paperwork and tests to prepare for surgery. Today was the day I needed my Advance Directive for Healthcare. I signed a form and will bring the paperwork with me on surgery day. The nurse practitioner asked me questions about allergies, past reactions to anesthesia, and went through what to expect on the day of surgery. I was relieved to find out that both my mom and dad can wait with me before they put me under. I still don't have a surgery time, yet. Someone from pre-op will call tomorrow night to give me my check-in and surgery time.

More blood was drawn from an excellent needle poking lab guy (I didn't even feel the needle this time) who happened to be in the National Guard and had previously been to North Fort Lewis for some of his National Guard training. He even knew where my school was! What a small world. My last test of the day was to provide a urine sample. Good thing I had been drinking a lot of water and had my decaf latte today. Considering how often I seem to have to "go", that's one test I'm good at! :)

Tomorrow's a day without appointments. Cayden has school in the morning and then needs to have some blood drawn in preparation for the surgery. We're going to try and find something fun to do in the afternoon to keep ourselves occupied and our minds off the surgery. Two more days until my parents arrive. I can't wait to see them!

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