Hey, y'all. I thought today I would finally post a follow-up about how Kate's doing.
I was stressed beyond belief the day she was in surgery. It was worse because I had received the impression that 4 hours was the average length of time spent in surgery. As it got to 5 hours, and 6, and 7, and no call had come, I was outwardly calm and inwardly spitting nails.
It went splendidly. But, of course, it was a major surgery; Kate apparently had tubes coming out of her every which way (I don't know because in a COVID world, a transplant patient can only have one visitor/caretaker, and that was Nick. I was keeping the home fires burning, as they say.) She was in ICU for 4 days, which I thought was great because the ICU was the most sanitized part of the hospital. Did I mention how nervous it made me to have her undergo a transplant in the middle of a pandemic? So yeah, I was happy she stayed in intensive care that long. Afterward, they transferred her to a patient wing called, colloquially, "The Hilton," where each patient got his or her own room. She stayed there for a couple of weeks.
During that time, the question was basically "Will the transplant `take?'" The new kidney did great from the beginning, chugging along without incident. The pancreas had an early problem. There wasn't enough room in there for it. Kate is small of stature, but that wasn't the only issue. Apparently, it's customary in transplant operations NOT to take out the old organs or the old dialysis lines that are put in for peritoneal dialysis. So, they left all those things inside Kate. They had to go back in a couple times, and one of those times was to remove the old dialysis line. It's a good thing they did, because it turned out the dialysis line was wrapped around her intestines and had been for some time. That's why dialysis was so extremely painful for Kate; the ordinary pain of dialysis was magnified by having something wrapped tightly around her intestines.
We were very glad to see the back of dialysis.
So then it became a question of whether the pancreas would settle in and start doing its job. Amazingly, it did. Just as an aside, it's unusual for me to feel wonder at the advance of human technology these days, because the people controlling that technology from inception to marketing are such poisonous rotters that it becomes near-impossible to experience any enthusiasm for their products. I mean, I don't give a shit if they invent tech that can tell what people are saying to each other by measuring the way leaves on nearby plants move when the folks speak, nor if they invent newer and cooler ways of blowing people to smithereens from a great distance. So it was a welcome change to feel how miraculous the technology of organ transplantation is.
I doubt I can convey how amazing it is to Kate that she can eat a full meal and have her blood sugar go no higher than 130. For the first time in 36 years, she is not a diabetic. Can you imagine that?
Since she got home, the pancreas and kidney continue to do well, with only one stutter: for one week, her potassium went up. Apparently, it's not uncommon for new transplanted kidneys to fail to eliminate all the various minerals and other substances they should early on in the process. They tweaked her medication, and we went on. Her potassium came down, and all was well. Since then, her numbers continue to be good--so good that they have moved her to once-a-week labs (from twice-a-week) and have put her on Zoom appointments. They do this to minimize her contacts, but they wouldn't feel free to do it were she not doing really, really well.
The pills are complex, but not more complex than managing diabetes medications AND dialysis; Kate has decades of practice managing multiple medications, and Nick, as her partner, has more than a decade of practice managing them too. At this point, I think Kate's greatest frustration is the limitations placed on her physical activity while she's healing. She's not allowed to bend over. She's not allowed to lift more than 5 lbs. She has to be careful how much sunlight she gets. She was just cleared to get in our pool for the first time since last year (you can't go swimming if you're doing peritoneal dialysis--at least that's my understanding).
So, everything is going really well.
That's my long-promised update on Kate. I'm grateful to be part of a community that cares so much. Thanks especially to those who kept reminding me I hadn't written this!