Saturday, February 24, 2007

Buck's new (23 yr old) Liver

Here's the scoop on Jesse's (Buck's) transplant. Thanks so much for all your support in so many ways. We have been greatly blessed. Here's a link to his Got Liver? site.

I have had a liver transplant!!

Yes, it's true. After a scare when they needed to do more tests on my heart (I now know I have a small congenital defect.) - they placed me on the list on January 24th. I was feeling pretty bad and in fact my nephew, Darron, came over on Saturday the 27th to take me over to Self Memorial to get checked out because I was having trouble with shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. As I was getting ready to go out the door, the phone rang. It was the Transplant Coordinator at MUSC telling me they had a liver for me and to come on to Charleston. I was shocked and Michael and I took off for Charleston and MUSC immediately.

Everyone at MUSC was so nice to me. I had my transplant on the 28th (exactly 6 months before my birthday!). There was an initial scare as they discovered I was losing blood somewhere. The thinking was that one of the vessels was leaking. So, it was back to surgery for an exploratory and to fix the leak if that is what was happening. When they went in they found lots of clotting - indicating I'd been bleeding - but no active bleeding. So whatever was leaking had sealed itself off. I spent the next 4 days in the ICU. At first I felt so bad and I really thought things were not going well - although the doctors kept saying that tests showed the liver was working fine. We did have a little trouble getting my kidneys to work but they bounced back and are now in as good a shape as before I was diagnosed with liver disease last July.

After being transferred to the Transplant Floor on 6 East I got some great physical therapy to help me with walking and getting up and down. My first walk I made it all the way down the hall to the nurses' station. It was the same distance I couldn't walk when I came in for the transplant the week before! They have a tradition that when you make it to the nurses' station the first time you ring a brass bell they have hanging there. It lets everyone know that another patient has made that key first step to recovery. So, I got to ring the bell.

On Sunday - exactly 1 week post transplant I was discharged from MUSC and allowed to go to the extended stay hotel. I had a home health nurse, Kelly, who came each night to check my vitals and make sure I was doing OK. Every morning I had to go have blood drawn at MUSC to check drug levels, my CBC, and liver function. I had clinic on Monday and Thursday and was told I was doing wonderfully. I had a little trouble with ascites but they adjusted my Lasix dosage and that cleared up by my last clinic visit this Monday.

I'm back down to 200 pounds and losing more. I still don't have a very big appetite and I have to intake a lot of protein over the next few weeks to assist in healing. I've actually come to like Ensure and Ensure High Protein. :-)

On Monday, February 12th, they let me go home to Newberry. I will have to have blood work done once a week at our hospital here and then go to Charleston once a week for clinic.

I'm currently taking about 18 pills each morning! What a breakfast! I then take 8 at night. Of course, that changes now and again as they adjust dosages on the immunosuppressents. I'll be on most of those the rest of my life, so I'm having to get used to being sort of rigid about getting my meds at the right times.

Michael was wonderful, he was by my side through everything and pushed me when I needed it (which has been often). He really stepped up to bat with medicines and other less seemly chores. I'm so lucky to have him.

So, I'm home again and doing well. I'll be going back for clinic on Monday.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to heal from the surgery.

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