This is part two of my post about my transplant in 1986. I decided to break it into two posts for ease of reading. – ♥
Here is the link for My First Kidney Transplant [Part 1] – click here so you can read them in order.
My story continues from 1984 when I was forced to discontinue one form of dialysis called CAPD and begin another form called hemodialysis. It was a switch from dialysis 4 times a day to 3 times a week.
I still needed dialysis so I had surgery on my left hand to join a vein and artery together to widen the vein on my forearm and that increased its size and blood volume. That allowed me to have larger diameter needles inserted during treatments. The surgery left my left forearm with a ropey look to it hence my tendency for many years to wear long sleeves all the time to hide my disfigured arm. If not for the larger needles though my dialysis would have taken 16 hours instead of five each time.
I have described hemodialysis in other posts but a picture is worth a thousand words. I was videotaped on dialysis in 2019 so I will share that video even though it is many years later when I reverted again to dialysis to live. – the video is Two minutes in length.
How dialysis works: (I will keep it short ♥) In the video you can see one needle goes into the bottom of my forearm and is taped still. Blood rushes up the tube and (with the aid of a pump) is circulated through a filter to remove fluids and toxic things that would otherwise build up and kill me. The blood filled tube comes back and a second needle is inserted and taped above the first into the enlarged vein above the first needle to return the blood. You have to stay fairly still for the process and you lose your body heat gradually as your blood returns colder than when it left, that’s why the blanket. I had to hook up to a machine for about five hours a day, three times a week – dialysis is not a cure, it’s life support. If I had not done dialysis I would died quite quickly, about a week or so.
1984 until April,1986
(Back to the story, sorry for the sidetrack♥) Dialysis continued three times a week until April 1986 when I got the call. – my transplant was scheduled for 1 a.m. the next morning. I excitedly headed to Vancouver General Hospital for my kidney transplant – our hopes were high. My family was excited.
It was a sunny day and blue skies looked ahead.
We stayed up late that night as the surgery was after midnight and we hoped the dawn would be the beginning of a new life of health and freedom with my young family.
I woke up a few days later in pain, it was 3 in the morning and isolated except for a nurse. It was the beginning of five months in the hospital and a myriad of attempts to save the transplant from rejection.
While the city celebrated Expo 86 just a few miles away I fought to live and enjoy my
life with my family and my young daughter. My fight and hospital “visit” lasted five months from April until September.
In September, I returned home, barely alive and back on hemodialysis. During my time in hospital my three roommates and fellow co-transplant patients had all died. Brian was just 34, he and I had been transplanted 24 hours apart. I was grateful to survive the summer of course but battle worn.
I was sad, much thinner (I had lost a lot of weight, nearly 40 pounds) but I was able to return to work and sleep at home.
It was awesome to be home. I could enjoy that absolutely. My daughter was three and I had lots to live for, special moments to treasure. That’s medicine you can’t prescribe.
Even going to work was better than that hospital ward, small room and the hospital bed. I was worn out.
I finished 1986 hoping I would get another chance of a transplant if I could find the mental and physical strength AND if a donor match could be found.
My next transplant chapter was in 1987 – although I didn’t know it at the time, which makes waiting harder of course, and it would be a miracle.
Better days lay ahead and I had to keep the faith, and live on dialysis.
Thanks for reading – David