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A Transplant Journey-Surgery Go Time

photo in hospital of stuffed dog with headphones, hospital water bottle with blue lid and clear straw, silver jewelry on side table

Guess what? After only a two month wait, your girl got a kidney! My physical Transplant Journey started Wednesday, July 5, 2023. I received a second phone call from the transplant team saying I was a match for a kidney. They would keep me updated and call me. I didn’t really believe I would get the kidney; I didn’t from the last call. Besides, it had only been two months since I was put on the list. Regardless, I didn’t sleep the best. When the person from the clinic called at lunch the next day with an update, I learned I was first and foremost for the kidney. I was like: “well after work I need to wash my hair and pack a bigger bag.” But I wouldn’t have time. At 5:15 pm July 6, I got the call to come to Birmingham, Alabama for my Kidney Transplant. We arrived at UAB by eight. We had dropped my grandmother off with her sisters. We already had go-bags but there is always last-minute packing. Our trip was pretty easy. Except that my parent’s new SUV isn’t a very comfortable ride. I cycled through shock and anxiety about the transplant throughout the ride. I was admitted to the University of Alabama that night and there was much to do. There were many blood tests, physical exams, drug updates, and a special shower. I slept some that night; the best sleep I would get for many days. I woke up early in the morning to climb steps to prove my heart was up for it. Friday morning, they treated me with insulin for high potassium. My blood sugar crashed, and I overheated. All I can I say is that those orange glucose tabs were the best thing I ever tasted. Then, by noon, I was in the pre-op waiting for my OR to open and for my kidney transplant team to descend. The fire alarm went off. And, while it was a false alarm, it slowed things down because they had to unlock everything. But after that things were smooth sailing. I was wheeled to the OR and could smell burnt tires. Apparently, we were close to the helicopter landing. Then inside there was so much going on. I was overloaded with sensory input and got a little anxious. I distracted myself by looking as much as I could at the new kidney doctors were preparing for me. They went to start the anesthesia in my IV and blew a vein. It hurt so much, and the medicine burned going in. They massaged my arm and fell asleep pretty quickly. I woke up hours later in the post op. I was in and out of sleep a bit. They had told my parents everything was well, and they had gone to get dinner. But I was so glad to see my mom when she arrived. I was having horrible leg spams, my right leg jumping. They finally got me a muscle relaxer as the spasms were causing horrible pain to my incision since they were on the same side. Other than the pain, I felt ok; just weary. As you can see by the picture, they leave the old kidneys and put the new one way lower than the others. The nurse was sitting by my bed where he could see me and his other patients. He was cute but also very caring and personable so that helped me get through the worst of the pain and loneliness. My room wasn’t clean and open until two am, so I was in the post op for about eight hours. Meanwhile, they had to keep a tight eye on how much fluid they gave me and how much was coming out. They wanted positive numbers before they moved me. I finally got positive and then negative and then back to positive. Nothing too abnormal. I was given a second shot of insulin to treat potassium. The new kidney wasn’t ready for potassium yet and I had been struggling with it before the surgery. This time I did not have a blood sugar crash. I was also on a heparin drip they had to keep a close eye on. My rheumatologist had said I was positive for the lupus anticoagulant, and they had to make sure I didn’t clot. For the same reason they put it in a drain so my incision wouldn’t clot. I also had a catheter as a standard tool. My step-down room was nice. It was in a corner with lots of room. My parents had a “sofa” and nice chair to sleep in that night. I didn’t sleep; they had to do vitals every half to full hour. They did medication and kept up with the number of fluids going in and out. The first night was a tough night.

Audrey Elaine Adamson

IG: @spoonsonthewall



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