Friday, July 27, 2012

T+17: Post-Tranplant Update

I have received several emails asking how Joe is doing, post-transplant.  Physically, he is doing well, thank you.  All the test results (and there are lots of tests) show that the new kidney is doing well.  She is filtering the toxins, removing all the water retention, and making him crave chocolate.  That last one is a joke...sort of.  Joe's living donor, Kris, loves chocolate and we joked around that Joe will start to want chocolate too. 

In all honesty, his body is accepting Dex (the name we gave the new kidney) really well.  Most patients leave the hospital on three anti-rejection medications.  The anti-rejection medications are designed to slow down the immune system, should it choose to attack the foreign invader (Dex).  Joe's body accepted Dex so well in the hospital, that he left only taking two.  Of the two medications, they both have pretty high dosages.  One medication required 7 pills in the morning and 7 pills at night.  But after repeated tests, Joe's body is accepting Dex so well that he has been lowered to 3 pills in the morning and 3 pills at night. 

He does still have the large hematoma.  The doctors examine it multiple times per week and are not concerned about it.  It does make Joe uncomfortable, but this too shall pass.

Spiritually, Joe is on fire!  I don't want to spoil anything, as he is preparing his testimony to be shared at church, but he grappled with life and death in December.  I hate to be cliche, but New Year's Day was a turning point for him.  We're pretty happy he chose life.

Since then, he doesn't hesitate to tell others about Christ.  He freely cries with others, encourages strangers, and prays with friends.  Ahh-MAZ-ing! 

He is not "out of the woods" yet.  When you think about it, he just had life-saving surgery 17 days ago!  He still has 20 days of observations, tests, procedures, and more tests.  Please continue to keep him in your prayers.  Here is a partial list of tests/procedures, so you will know how to pray for him:

August 2nd, 1:15p.m.: Stent Removal.  They insert a stent into the new ureter, connected to his bladder.  Our bodies are amazing and they know when there is a foreign object.  The body would attempt to close off the new ureter, so they insert the stent to keep it open while fully grafting to his bladder.  It does cause a little irritation at night, so it's coming out will be a good thing.

August 7th, 9:00a.m.: Bone Mineral Analysis.  This test will detect any osteoporosis.  It is done through radiation.  I don't fully understand this test and it's implications, but just know that Mayo is very thorough.

August 13th, 10:45a.m.: Biopsy.  The only 100% way to check a kidney is to do a biopsy.  They will insert a needle into his pelvic area (where Dex hangs out) and scrape a little off for examination.  Although this will not be a fun procedure, we are very interested in Joe's kidney function.  Normal kidneys work about 100%.  Joe has been at 30% for several years.  Last summer, he plummeted to 11% (10% is death).  Each kidney is capable of working near 100% on it's own, but they get lazy since there are two of them.  When one is taken out, the remaining kidney will increase over time (about a month) to near 100%.  Same for the transplanted kidney.  It will realize that it needs to kick it up a notch and start to work harder.  Isn't that amazing in itself?  Crazy.  Even if Joe just comes out at 61% (his original 11% plus the new 50%), that will be a level he hasn't seen in years. 

August 15th, 9:00a.m.: Blood Pressure Monitor.  The kidneys and blood pressure are very related.  In fact, our local doctor (LOVE HIM!) knew that something was wrong with Joe just based on his blood pressure and called him, wrote him letters, and finally begged me to get Joe checked out.  The blood pressure monitor will be strapped to him and he needs to wear it for 24 hours non-stop.  He will remove it the next day and they will analyze it.

August 16th, 9:40a.m.: Final Exam.  Although Joe has many lab appointments and exams throughout the next 3 weeks, this will be the last.  This is the exam where they will look at all his data, from all his procedures, and will (hopefully) release him to go home.  You better believe I will be praying for this!

where Glory meets my suffering