I got back from my pre-op appointment at the hospital just a few hours ago. All in all, it wasn’t that different from the appointments I had back in November.
When I got to the hospital they took another urine sample and sent me to another department. There, they drew 18 vials of blood, which I think is the most they’ve taken from me so far (the phlebotomist said that usually they draw more, though, so I guess I’m lucky). The children’s hospital across the street, where the recipient will be for her surgery, also wanted 4 vials of blood for another tissue cross-match, just in case.
After that, I went to see one of the transplant coordinators. She went over the plan for the surgery, what I needed to do to prepare, and a little of what to expect afterwards. As far as preparation, the day before the surgery I need to do a “half” bowel prep, which is similar to what people do before colonoscopies, but not as bad. I need to drink Citrate of Magnesia, a laxative, at around 3-4 PM. Once I start, I can only drink clear liquids (tea and coffee are permitted) until midnight, then I can’t eat or drink anything. She also went over medications I can’t take before surgery. Those are mostly the same ones I can’t take after surgery either, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve, etc.)
After the donor coordinator, I talked to one of the nurses that works on the floor where my hospital room will be. She went over post-surgical care, like my medications, both IV and pill, how I’m able to shower, when the doctors are going to come and check my vitals, my criteria for discharge, etc. The surgery only takes about 3 hours, but because of preparations and giving me time to wake up after anesthesia, my family won’t see me for around 5 hours. Then, I get moved to my own private hospital room. They want me to be able to move from the hospital bed to the chair just a few hours after my surgery, and they want to transition my from IV pain medication to pills as soon as possible. If my recovery goes well and I’m able to move around on my own, I should be able to go home the morning of my third day in the hospital (two days after the surgery, which would be Jan. 4).
Next I talked to the transplant pharmacist who went over the medications I will be taking post-surgery as well as what I can and cannot take after surgery. For pain management, I will be taking Tylenol (acetaminophen) and they will give me a narcotic (oxycodone or hydromorphone). She said I will be taking the Tylenol at a regular interval and should only take the narcotic as needed, e.g. if the Tylenol alone isn’t enough to manage the pain. I will also take Colace (docusate), a stool softener, and Senna, a laxative, to get my bowels moving again after surgery. Those are also as-needed, so after a couple of days everything should be moving fine again and I won’t need them. The pharmacist also said not to take any herbal supplements post-surgery. The reason is that herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, and so there are no studies of whether or not they affect the remaining kidney, so just in case they can cause harm, they recommend not taking them.
Finally the surgeon came in and talked about the surgery. She went over my lab results, including my CT scan, medical history, etc., to formulate a plan for the surgery. What’s really cool is that she showed me a 3D model of my kidneys on the computer that they generated from my CT scan. She was able to use those to see my kidneys and the blood vessels going to and from them in detail. Using those models, she can already see what’s going on in my body so she already knows what to expect before surgery. So using those models she was able to determine my left kidney was the best one to take. It was really cool to see a rotating 3D model of my kidneys; modern medical technology is really awesome.
After my meeting with the surgeon, I was able to go back home. I need to report to the hospital at 7 AM January 2. It’s so crazy it’s only just a few days away. I know yesterday I said it was starting to feel real, but I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. I’m nervous, but excited to get the surgery over with. The build-up has been a long time coming.