Cruisin with the Real"s

Cruisin with the Real"s
Joe and Nancy Grand Cayman 10-07

Loma Linda Medical Center

Loma Linda Medical Center
Where the magic happens........

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our friends Karen and Bob

They wrote this in the comments and I wanted to post it. It made me smile. The thought of the toast from the Dawn Princess on New Years....and the thought of taking my new liver cruising again! LOL...... I think I will think of it like that... I am going to take my new liver here, there and everywhere! Oh, what a life we will have together..... :-)

You got it Nancy! We will send you photos from the Dawn Princess, we promise.Listen carefully on New Year's Eve, and you will hear us toasting you and Joe for a long and happy and healthy life together!!!You take good care so that you will be cruising soon, and cruising with that new liver. Then we will really all celebrate together!! Love,Karen and Bob

Thursday, December 20, 2007

heart institute

Marielena just e-mailed me the appointment news. 1-15-08.

(Thanks Bob and Karen! You guys are great! I want some cruise photo's from you 2 so I can live vicariously)

The Boys Adventure






Here are some photo's from the boys trip. The first one is sailing in St John. Look closely they are on the bow together... 2nd one, in the dining room, 3rd one is the Radiance on the left. She currently sails Alaska, Caribbean, So American, So Pacific. etc... next to her is Liberty of the Seas. The largest cruise ship afloat with her sister Freedom. Sails in the Caribbean. I love the bow lines criss crossing in front of the ships holding them tight to the dock. That was in San Juan. 4th photo is in Key West and the Southern most point in the USA. (double click on the photo to view larger)

what the commitee has to say

They did meet today and did review my case. Apparently everything is good to go except for one LITTLE thing. They were concerned about my heart under the stress of the surgery.

They are still concerned about the low oxygenation of my heart. Called

Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD), otherwise known as Coronary Artery Disease, is a condition that affects the supply of blood to the heart.

As the heart is the pump that supplies oxygenated blood to the various vital organs, any defect in the heart immediately affects the supply of oxygen to the vital organs like the brain, kidneys, liver etc.

Well, you get the idea. They want me to meet with the cardiac team at the heart institute so they can review my tests and records.

It sounds to me like they are just being cautious which I am grateful for. They don't want anything to go wrong when they open me up for the world to see and tear my guts out.... I guess they would like my heart to keep beating so they have time to play Dr with the rest of my insides. I think that is a good idea. So, check away!

From what Judith said that is all they are asking for so I guess I passed all the other requirements. Social, Psych, Alcohol, Financial, Dental, OB, My hairdresser, the guy at Starbucks said it was okay with him...........Pulmonary, etc. etc. etc.

I have found a couple of local transplant support groups and am looking forward to meeting them soon.

For those of you traveling this weekend, Be Safe, take your time and patience along with you and have a very Merry Christmas!

Oh, I accomplished something today I have been putting off....Shoveling and discinfecting Joey's room.....!!!!!!!!!!!!! You people with teens and above know what I mean!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

hahahahaha

Need a laugh...watch this!

Michelle sent me this...worth a minute...... http://weblogs.newsday.com/news/opinion/walthandelsman/blog/2007/11/animation_baby_boomers.html

Christmas is right around the corner

Unfortunately, I did not escape this cold thing. It has kind of wiped me out, energy wise etc but otherwise all is good here. I made a killer soup over the weekend. We had fires and stayed warm.

I did go down and have my last pre-committee appt with the Pulmunologist and got official clearance from him for surgery. He said that both my heart and lungs had shown great improvement. My pulmonary pressures had to be under 50 for surgery and they were 35. My leaky mitral heart valve was hardly evident any more. All my vessels and arteries are totally clear. My heart is functioning very well.

They told me that things were bad when they were running tests while I was hospitalized a few months ago because of the acute and serious nature of what my liver was doing to my body. Basically, over working the other organs, the pressures were up and they weren't happy.

I am so thankful for my dedication to fitness off and on throughout the years and particularly the recent ones.... I was thinking the other day that it was only about 3-4 years ago that I was in great shape and thinking of competing in Body Building shows and developing tossing around some business ideas in that direction. My Dr's have NOT been happy that I used Phen-fen for a short while or the Ephedra that I took for quite awhile with the supplements for leaning out during weight loss.

Soooooooooo, off to committee we go! I spoke with Judith, my TP coordinator today to see if they were going to meet tomorrow and her answer was *I hope so*. She said they have it planned for every Thursday but she doesn't know if they meet or not until she shows up on Friday.


Christmas:

Joey will be home tomorrow for the rest of the holiday. Our friends, Tom, Kim and their sons, John and Logan will be here Sat night. So, I have a lot to do in the next couple of days. I told everyone we were doing a very low key Christmas but we still need a house ready for company, meals planned, food in the house and the house ready for Santa to arrive.

We will be spending Christmas Day up in Lake Arrowhead with the Fitzgerald's and the Gilliam's. There will be a dozen of us dining together. Hopefully a little snow and a wonderful afternoon of food and friendship without the dishes up at LA Resort, a newly remodeled hotel up in the local mountains. Here is a link for you locals. Looks like they have done a beautiful job remodeling and if the Chef is as good as the menu's sound the food should be great. I will give you my review after we try it.
www.laresort.com It looks as though they have some good local specials for a weekend or mid week get away and a nice spa also.

(Odd things that didn't use to happen. My Dr asked me what I had planned for the holidays and I told him about Arrowhead thinking he would be happy I wasn't cooking and his response was. You might feel uncomfortable with elevations at the Lake and to pay attention to my body and come down from the mountain right away if I felt faint or had a tight chest, trouble breathing, etc.)

Anyway, on to the few days we all have left before the big day. Try and relax some, smell the Christmas Trees and have a cup of hot chocolate.

Good night, sleep tight...................................................................................

interesting and inspiring story

Hi all. Sorry to be remiss about posting. I could say I was soooooooooooo, busy with Christmas preparation....but that wouldn't be exactly true... I will write more here later tonight. Right now I need to go to target and get dinner started but I wanted to share and interesting story that I am sure will touch you and you will probably feel compelled to share it with someone you know. Here is the link.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/the_spoon_theory

Talk to you later tonight! Stay warm.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

meeting with the surgeon..................

Yesterday, Joe and I were on the road to the hospital by 7am and got home about 6pm. Long day of appt's and we had some company last night. They went well but I am catching a cold and the day made me tired. Anyway, over all it was a good and interesting day.

We had an appt with Dr Franco, one of 4 surgeons that make up the liver transplant surgery team at Loma Linda. We barely caught him as he was being called to another transplant. 3rd one in 2 days. Joe and I had already had a discussion wondering, since it is such a long and complicated surgery, how much of it the surgeon actually does. Do they switch off mid stream. Does he make the initial incisions and remove the patients original liver along with attaching the new one (makes me think of installing as a good word... :-)

I know that sometimes when the liver arrives and the Dr's assess it, if something isn't right the surgery is off. We asked how often this happens and he said not often as they actually go evaluate the organ of the donor first and do the harvesting themselves. When UNOS calls and makes an offer of a liver to our Dr's. If it matches one of their patients the surgeons actually fly out to harvest the donor's organ and bring it back to Loma Linda and the surgery proceeds from there. 2 of the 4 Dr's are usually involved, sometimes 3. Who actually would be performing my surgery could be any of the 4 depending on who is on duty when *MY* organ offer becomes available. With a 8-12 hour surgery that makes for a very long day...He said sometimes 36 hours. Plus he sees new patients and after surgery follows all his patients post surgery. Who ever performs my surgery will by my *new* Dr post surgery before being returned to Dr Mendler. An entire NEW team will take care of me post surgery.

Other things come into play that I hadn't heard of or considered regarding matching the organ to the patient. I knew about the blood type and size of the organ. The size of the liver can't be to big or to small for the person receiving it which makes sense. The other things they consider are the age and general health of the patient. He said for someone like myself who is fairly young, in fairly good health, (at this point the rest of the things that will eventually start to happen to me, I won't list them but they are nasty and I would rather avoid them if I can) and has a smallish body, they will look for a smaller, younger liver in good health that can sustain me many years. Well, I like that!!!!

In other patients that may be very ill and in the very end stages of liver failure they might use an organ that isn't so *perfect* as they need to get one in fast or the patient will surely die.

He said he thinks I am a good candidate for the transplant. We like him, he answered all the questions we had at the time before he ran out to catch his helicopter...

Oh, we asked how far the organs come from to Loma Linda. He said mainly the Los Angeles Basin and that Loma Linda, Cedar Sinai and UCLA get their offers first then the organs are offered to more outlying area's.

Then onto the anesthesiologist. We didn't really meet with *the man/woman* just the dept as they were gathering data from Cardiology and Pulmonary to get clearance for me to go under.

I passed. Barely. My heart is getting better apparently. My lung function is still a bit compromised.

We made a stop at the transplant unit. I do that every time I am down there since staying there. I stop by to see how my ex-room mate is doing. She is still waiting for a liver and has been in the hospital quite awhile.



I lost my voice yesterday. Got up this morning and took some cough med that my nurse said was okay...well, it immediately wiped me out and I went back to bed and slept until 2.

Joe goes back to work tomorrow and we just found out that our friends Kim, Tom and family will be coming down Christmas. :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

meeting with the Surgeon - NOT TODAY

Joe and I went down to meet with the surgeon today, arrived early and waited about 1.5 hours as he was running late. I am not complaining because out of all the appt's that I have had and LLMC I haven't waited much at all. They all run a pretty tight ship regarding the appt's and I have been impressed. But then, well his asst came out and said "Mrs Real, we need to reschedule your appt. The Dr needs to go do a transplant". So, what do you say, but OK, good luck and when should I come back.

So, we had lunch and are home...We are going to try and fit him in tomorrow between 2 other Dr's.

Thursdays Transplant Committee is cancelled so no list this week. I think now that the holidays are in full swing things will slow down as the various Dr's and necessary decision people take time off.

I feel good so all is well.

Welcome to Kelly and Doug on the blog...That was a very nice introduction. Sounds like you are enjoying the snow and the holidays. It is so nice that all your family is so close by!

Hugs, Have a cup of Christmas Cocoa for me!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's the little things

Something that stands out to me about the time Joe was gone and I was alone.

Of course I missed all the regular things one misses when your partner, lover, spouse is not there. Meal times, sleeping together, listing to them breathe at night...(read snore, LOL) The smell of coffee freshly made in the morning as you wake up. Those are the kinds of things you expect to miss.

But it is the little things that surprise you.

Like.............

Everyday when I got in the shower I was reminded Joe was not there because the shower head didn't need to be adjusted.

He likes one type of spray and I like another so normally when each of us showers we have to switch it to our preference.

It never needed adjusting. I was reminded every time I took a shower.................he wasn't there. And I missed him.

Christmas Tree Hunting...

Well here we are, new to the blogging world. Now all my random thoughts will appear before your very eyes!

For those that don't know me, I am Nancy's brothers girlfriend.... I could add a few more titles, but that should do for now, a flow chart will follow.... Oh, and my name is Kelly.

So to catch up those of you reading this that don't know where on the planet we hail from, it's ... Montana. Yes, The Big Sky Country... and getting bigger with all the trees making way for construction. We are in the NW corner, 20 miles from Glacier National Park.

Doug is doing well, working lots on a big house as the foreman, (lots of duties... hence the thinking part). It hasn't snowed much (a couple inches so far until today...) and the weather has been very warm for now, then reeeeeeeeealllllllllllllllllyyyyyyy cold. Blood is still thin from summer! Doug will be digging himself into his job site tomorrow, as it's been dumping snow all day! We have another term for the large amount falling out of the sky, but I will save it for a later time when you know me better.... I'm sure the hot tub will be a welcome sight tomorrow night!

I have been working on my photography business now that I have a few moments to sit still and working on the house. Mainly painting, floors.... It's very therapeutic to paint your floors, almost as good as mowing tall grass down. I painted the gym area mango. It's very inviting, hopefully it works to entice me toward the equipment.


So last night, we threw a big bash with all our friends and my family. The house was packed, everyone brought some wonderful delicacy from their kitchens and we played until the wee hours of the night/morning. We had a blast!

I woke this morning with the warm fuzzies about the friends we have and my children (both attended with their girlfriend/boyfriend), as well as my mom. OK, I was a bit fuzzy from the wine I had last night, but I had a quest, and that quest was to get a Christmas tree today.

To truly appreciate the quest, one must revisit the last 23 years of Christmas Tree Hunting. Collectively, a ever growing group of us (random friends), meet in the morning, drives miles into the woods on some icy forest service road, find a patch of trees, (they are all different you know...) stop the car, and get out and walk in knee deep snow with our dogs and find that proverbial "perfect" Christmas tree. The last part is the "hunting" part.

Yesterday, Doug, mom, and a couple other folks and I attempted this quest. We however couldn't find "the" tree, therefore our, (Doug and I), hunt was deemed unsuccessful. Hence today's quest.

Onward, to my daughters house, 20 miles from ours, in one of the most beautiful parts of our valley, trees, tress, and more trees. They are everywhere! I want one; more specifically a blue spruce, the angry tree, leaves your hands bloodied by the time you've put your lights on it. You just want to throw the ornaments in it's direction, so it's needles can do you no more harm.

We arrive, it's snowing lightly. I get out of the car, let the dogs out, and go into the house for some coffee. I am inside for about 5 minutes. When I leave, I don't see the dogs anywhere. Fellan is the big black lab/wolf cross who will be 13 in March. Peanut is the chocolate and she is 2. Gone, totally, gone, not a track to be found. We looked for 3 hours.... I am FREAKING out now. Old dog, post holed in the snow, is all I can think of and Peanut or "Butter dog" isn't much for finding her way back, she assumes we will pick her up in the car somewhere, I think... Lost, in the woods. I think. Well they eventually made their way back the the house, jogging from what I am told. As Doug and I were combing the roads in the car when Heather's boyfriend called to tell us that the delinquents had returned. First off, their grounded. Although they did get one cookie out of me this evening, second, their both a bit stiff from their adventures, and my personal favorite, they have the best gas any two dogs could collectively make all the way home in the car. Brutal! Did I tell you their grounded. The lesson here is when a dog smells some "good stuff", it doesn't matter how old they are, how far they have to go to get it, or how long they are out in the cold snowy forest, they are puppies again. Fellan probably plugged his ears while chewing on the bones of something "wonderful", while I lost my voice yelling for him. Peanut was probably instructed to stand guard and not run back to the house.

Well to sum it up, in our efforts to find the dogs, we did find a lovely tree, said our prayers, and cut 'er down, strapped it to the car like any proud hunter would, and will enjoy the spoils of the hunt tomorrow, when the lights go on....

So today is almost over for me, getting tired now, tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to enjoy it every bit as I did all the others.

On a serious note, I have enjoyed reading the blog, honored to be asked to join it. I read the letter Nancy posted about the feelings of someone with a disease. I too "got it", as I am a cancer survivor. Well written, hard to explain and harder to contemplate if you haven't been there. It changed my life, and I feel it made me a better person for it. You don't take all the little stuff as seriously, as it doesn't deserve the energy. Enjoy yourself, your family and your friends every moment you breathe, you never know when that bus is lurking around the corner.

Thank you Nancy for inviting us to blog with you. After this blog gets posted, I will wait by the phone in case you need to call and cancel my subscription to the blog, leave a message if I don't answer, I'll be out shovelling snow... I promise I won't cry.

PS. Do they have help groups for long winded writers?...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas thoughts...

I have an idea!

I would love it if you would send me a note telling me what you all are out there doing this weekend preparing for the Holidays! Or maybe what you have planned for Christmas/New Years. Anything you are doing that is making you crazy, you are looking forward to or the biggest Christmas tree you have seen this year!

I saw a very big, 3-4 story high live one at Victoria Gardens that is just beautiful.

Merry Christmas.....

A rainy cold Sat.

As I sit here on a cold, cloudy, cold rainy afternoon....I have a fire burning, my dogs snoring beside me and my kitty cat on my lap between me and the keyboard..making it difficult to type, I am watching some old favorite movies on TV, (as good as it gets, gone in 60 seconds, raising Arizona).....I am relaxing thinking about the salmon I am going to make for dinner and waiting for my family to return. The boys are on dry land now and spending the night in Florida before coming home tomorrow. Finally. It feels as though they have been gone a really, really loooooong time.

I think I am more upset with my Dr's and their making me stay here now than when they made that call.

I really had no choice...if I wanted to get accepted to *the list* (we need a name for that)......... I hate not having choices and it is my usual M O to look for anyway around not having a choice until I find one I like. I am actually very good at that. There is no black and white in my mind just many shades of grey with different ways of looking at them, hence different choices......one can lead to another making life interesting. I never really understand when people say well, it is this way or that and they don't even LOOK or SEE the options that are right in front of them.....

Back to the Transplant Team....now, they DO see everything in black and white. Which makes it very hard for someone like me to play on the same team with them. They like people to just follow whatever directions they tell them. Never questioning, well what about this or that????

I know that staying here make it easier for them to get the tests done and see the Dr's I needed to be seeing which leads to seeing the Surgeon this week and hopefully get on the list by Friday.

BUT, in my heart I know that it would have been better for my overall being to have been on that ship with friends, family, relaxing, laughing, having fun, having new experiences together and creating life long memories for us than for me to have been on the list by Friday.

I would have been fine with not being on the list for another week or too and my soul and spirit would have been much calmer, happier and ready for all that is to come. (I also believe this helps your physical body as well)

I will let it go now as there is no undoing it but that is how I feel about it. It was a very big deal to me.

Friday, December 7, 2007

This is from a yahoo liver transplant group that I belong to...

The author gave permission for me to reprint it here. I think it sums up what anyone with a disease that has a similar prognosis feels but especially those of us with cirrhosis facing transplant can feel. I know I related entirely even though I sound *cheery* here.


When someone is diagnosed with cirrhosis, they may not even know what it is. They may not have any symptoms at first, either. They feel well and don't see why the doctor is so concerned. Many are diagnosed because the doctor was trying to have tests done for another problem and it happened to show up during that time. The patient needs to be informed of the seriousness of this diagnosis. How it is going to effect him/her in the future and what treatment is appropriate for them and what they can do to help reverse this disease, if possible.The problem is, that many people are not completely informed of all this and they leave the doctors office with more questions than when they first entered.The patient now is on a journey that he will travel mostly alone.Though, other may be around them, no one feels the horror or the pain and anguish but the patient themselves. And, to top it all off, the emotions that go along with finding out that you may die cannot be described completely in words. The unknowns ahead and the loss of privacy, self worth, and being able to handle everything yourself has just disappeared. You are now a specimen in a dish and whenever someone wants to stuff you will chemicals or poke at you with instruments...they have to have the right under the pretense that they are trying to help you. You ask yourself when you stop being human and start to be added to statistics. Suddenly, you find yourself studying up on a disease which you normally had no interest in all in. You search for ways to prevent further damage and look for miracles. You try to deny that anything is wrong, cause you don't want your life as you once knew it to change. You may become mad in the process of it all and ask why it was you when so many others have done things worse and never had to suffer. Or you are a victim of it all, where you have lead a very clean and healthy existence and then receive a blow like this.So caregivers, do you know what your patient is facing, Really?(1) If someone said to you that you were going to die tomorrow and it was definite...what would go through your mind?I won't have a chance to see my children grow up. People here rely on me to take care of them and now I am being forced to leave them and I worry about it. I never got to do the things in my life I always wanted to do. I never got a chance to really take the time to be with those I love the most and say the things I needed to say. I will never finish the things I once started and they will never get done.(2) Would you have regrets? The things in this life doesn't seem as important to me as they once did...after all, we have all heard the saying you cannot take it with you. I spent too much of my time worrying about little things and things we could have than I did with spending time with those I love and now it is too late. How can I undo all the wrongs I have done?(3) Would you feel like a burden? I no longer can handle the things I once did and now others have to do everything for me. Won't they get resentful that I am taking up most of their time and they would have a better life if I wasn't here.The patient can feel very much alone. They can start to see life much more clearly than the person who is well, as they see what really is important. They know that others are doing for them and that they have not only loss their independence but are now treated like they have no say in anything at all. They can become extremely depressed and tired.However, everyday they face the pain, face the changes of their body...like someone is playing a bad joke on them, face the anguish of seeing the pity in others eyes, face the torture that the disease is not getting any better as time goes on.Though, this post can depress not only those who are caregivers, but also the patient themselves....Both the patient and the caregivers need to know what is in the minds and hearts of those who go through this.This way they come to be more understanding, compassionate, and more caring. This however is a Journey...and a true learning experience.Someday, those who are caregivers now may become the patient.We all have a time to share and help others, and others have the time to share and help us. Through open communication, the journey is not taken alone, but with those who love us the most.


Sorry that it all runs together but I just cut and pasted from the original author and didn't want to change anything....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

this is HUGE!!!!!

Okay gang, I received a call from Marielena, my *personal assistant* at the center... the one who keeps me busy with appt's. and we are almost there!

I have one more CT scan with contrast and a reg Dr appt. BUT,,,,,I also have my appt's set up with the SURGEON AND ANESTHESIOLOGIST next week! Those are the 2 big ones. They only do those after everything else is done, all the boxes are checked off, the I's are dotted, T's crossed.....etc. etc..... THEN they all take my case to committee which meets on THURSDAY the 13th! They will decide right then and there if I they put me on the list or not.

Sooooooooooooooooooo, I should know by the end of next week! PHEW! After that things will slow down at regarding all the appointments and I can focus on getting some exercise, and getting things in order here at home to run without me for awhile. AND I can spend a bit of time enjoying life, (not that I don't now)

I would love to know before Christmas.

Well, I have lots of things to catch up with here at home today. I just was so happy and wanted to let you all know!

Have a great day!



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Finally in English


I have solved the problem of my 'blog access' being in Espanol and have officially become a Blogger (1 'g' or 2?). Of course, we will see when I actually post this.

As Nancy reported earlier, the week I spent in Apple Valley with her was very rewarding. I found, however, she is not waning in energy but is go-go-go. She knows she must slow down now and not push as is her normal pattern. With all the sessions... advisors/doctors/etc...her knowledge of this whole 'transplant' process is mounting hourly. Mine, too.

Nancy is being sooo strong and brave. I only pray that when THE time comes to assist her and give her the care she deserves, I will be strong too. The nurses/doctors we met while she was in for the transfusion and angiogram (in the Transplant Area) are soooo nice and put Nancy's mind at ease a bit about the HUGE experience coming down the pike.

Mary

If you THINK you are a CA organ donor because of the pink sticker thing....well, you might not be.

http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org


Donate Life California is a nonprofit Organ and Tissue Donor Registry dedicated to saving the lives of thousands of Californians awaiting life-saving transplants.
Officially formed in 2004 after being authorized by the state, California's four federally designated non profit organ procurement organizations (facilitating the donation process across California), are committed to giving every person waiting for a transplant — a second chance at life.
Right now nearly 20,000 Californians wait for an organ transplant. That's 21 percent of the 94,000 people waiting across our country. Tragically, one third of them will die - waiting.
Until now, no Registry has existed for those of you who wished to give consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor. Historically, while signing a donor card and placing the pink dot on your license served as an important symbol of your intent, it did not place you on any list or Registry.
Now, Donate Life California allows you to express your commitment to becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor. The Registry guarantees your plans will be carried out when you die.Since July 1st of 2006, individuals who renew or apply for a driver’s license or ID with the DMV, now have the opportunity to also register their decision to be a donor in the Donate Life California Registry, and the pink "DONOR" dot symbol is pre-printed on the applicant’s driver license or ID card.
You have the power to donate life — sign up today to become an organ and tissue donor. Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation.

I just went and registered for organ donation and it was quick and easy. If you decide to do the same please add my e-mail to the list of notification. It would make my day. One day your 2 minute online registration could save many, many lives of people who are waiting like myself.

I am also checking on the blood donations in my name as I have had many requests for that.

Currently you can only donate in my name in San Bernardino County. You do that by checking the REPLENISH box in the bottom with my name and Loma Linda Hospital on it.

I may be moving my surgery to Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles after I get put on THE LIST with UNOS officially. My transplant may take place there and that will be where I need the most blood, platelets, and plasma. I will let you know when that happens.

It is STILL always great to donate blood where ever you live.... You can find out your locations easily on the web.

Mary can't blog from Mexico

She can read the blog but when she tries to write in it ...Well Blogger thinks she speaks spanish and switches everything to Spanish... HeHe.... So, she can only blog from the good ol, USA.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mary, Mary....where are you?

While Mary was here we got her all fixed up so that she can post as well.

Soooooo, come out and play, Mar!

my hospital stay Friday - Sat.

I was thinking something on Friday morning at 5:30am in the shower...(way to early for me!) Before when people said they were going for some kind of medical test, something with a name I had heard of over and over and over....like an endoscopy, or a CT scan, an MRI, a heart cath or angiogram. You know how it is...we hear the terms on TV, on the News, from friends and family, at the water-cooler...ya know???? For myself, I would hear the term and think I had an idea what it was and it was sort of in one ear and out the other, (unless it was someone close to me then I asked a few more questions, of course) BUT, we kind of take them for granted that they are standard, regular, test that happen all the time. And they ARE. Your Dr's and nurses think so, your friends and family think so and so do you.......Except when they are going to do one on YOU !!!!!

THEN IT IS MORE LIKE.................CAN WE SLOW DOWN HERE A MINUTE PLEASE AND MAKE PRETEND I DON'T HAVE A CLUE EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO TO ME, WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT AND FOR AND WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FIND/DON'T FIND IT????? I KNOW YOU KNOW YOU DO THIS ALL DAY LONG BUT,,,,,,,,,I AM NEW HERE......WOULD YOU MIND STARTING AT THE BEGINNING FOR ME?.....LOL

So, one thing I have learned is that when people tell me they are going to the Dr for this or that...I am not going to pretend I have any idea what they mean....and ask them, What is that, how do you feel? Because a quick, I hope it goes well may not be what they need. They very well may be scared!.......

Maybe all this that I am going through is to teach me some things like this........................

Just a thought..............................................

Okay, now onto my sleep over.

Mary and I arrive at the hospital to check in and head to unit 4100 per instructions. We have no idea what unit 4100 does and like most of the units...they don't have a name by the number so you still don't know....I knew it was across the hall from the cardiac unit I went to last Monday so I assumed it was a overnight cardiac unit so they could give me blood and monitor me before sending me home. Hopefully that night but possibly the next morning. I feel great. A little nervous but happier that they were going to give me blood *products* (new term for me) so I wasn't worried about having my femoral artery punctured any longer and I trust the procedure and Dr's....very good success rate and I was hoping they would find my heart and lungs in good enough shape for surgery. If they did look at my heart and see what they thought could be the problem, well, that would be very bad as it is irreversible and would keep me off the list permanently.

I get shown to my bed, given my gown for the stay, new slipper socks, they get me in bed and do vitals, they ask all the same questions they ask every damn time you meet someone new. I think it is a test to see if you are still giving them the same answers. Hook me up to all vital machines. The vampires come in to draw blood and put a catheter in. etc. etc.

Then something odd happens. A Dr pops in to say hi and see how I am am doing. We recognize each other. We met a couple of times during my stay the 1st of Sept. (unit 6200). :-)
His lab coat says something about being on the transplant team. Hmmmmmmmmmm, Did he just come in to check on me? I haven't seen him down at the transplant offices.....hmmmmmm.

Well, I asked the nice nurse, Sara, what unit this is...she tells me it is the transplant until and looks at me funny like I should know...... (I am NEW here.....remember?) That hit me as, hm, this is where I will be for a few weeks post transplant. These are the Dr's and nurses who will be taking care of me after I get out of ICU. It was sort of a weird revelation. As I stayed there it almost felt like home and I felt safe and understood as THESE Dr's and nurses only take care of transplant patients and know so much about the symptoms, how the bodies are acting and reacting. The drugs we are on and why...why we look and act the way we do. My room mate was there for a liver transplant. She was pre-transplant and going through dialysis waiting for a liver as her kidneys had failed and she was in pretty bad shape.

I was very impressed with the unit and the people that work there.......a preview of sorts.
I guess anytime I need to go into the hospital from now on, no matter what the reason that is where I will go.

I will speed things up.
I ended up getting 1 unit of platelets and 3 units of plasma but the timing had to be perfectly timed with when they would be ready for me in the cardiac unit. So I waited until late afternoon to get the blood *products* I just pretended they were my girlfriend Michelle's as she gave platelets in my name at the blood bank the day before.....

THANK YOU MICHELLE......(HUGS, HUGS, HUGS!)

They wheeled me down the hall into a large room like on ER with *HAVE A HOLLY, JOLLY CHRISTMAS* playing....and Frosty, Rudolph and so forth to follow. How very festive. LOL

Scrub me, drape me, tie me down.....having fun so far...Then they tell me I am going to get some happy juice! Oh boy, sounds like a party to me...Then when I asked WHEN do I get my happy juice, as you are awake during this thing, they tell me, OH, we are so sorry, no happy juice for YOU...Your liver doesn't want any today. Shit, ok, it's white knuckles for me.

The surgeons and techs were all very nice, explained everything and went about their business.

If you want to know what they do...an angiogram or heart cath...same thing...they did a left and a right heart cath on me. They numb up your groin area where they go in. They put in 2 catheters into my femoral artery and proceed to take this small tube with a hook at the end...(flexible, about 5 feet long) and thread it up your artery and into your heart for a look see.

It really was painless but if feels like a plumber doing rotor rooter on you. You know those snake things? They thread this thing up into your heart, shoot contrast through it and take pictures on the 4 TV monitors that you can watch...it is amazing actually, watching your own heart beat and when they shoot the dye in it illuminates all through your very own vessels... I guess the most uncomfortable thing was that I could feel it in my heart. The catheter. I could feel it. A bit uncomfortable and they didn't tell me that so I wasn't ready for it.

Then, POOF, they took it out and it was over! They plugged the artery with a self absorbing plug that seals it and told me not to move for 2 hours. They also said...

YOUR HEART LOOKS REALLY, REALLY GOOD!!! The pressures are good, etc. I asked..good enough to get me through the surgery? and the answer was a preliminary YES!!!!!!!!!!

We were sooooooooooooooooooooooo, happy.....finally some good news. I was starting to think that I hadn't gotten any *good* news since I entered the hospital 3 months ago. Which was true.

I got a good nights sleep and went home Sat afternoon. Rested most of the weekend..and was up and running this morning.

BTW, Mary stayed with me all week bless her heart and left Sunday morning to go home for a bit and get ready for Christmas.

Wow, that was a long story for a one night stay............................. I may miss a few days here and again but I make up for it...

Goodnight all !!! We are closer to the committee review/decision.







Thursday, November 29, 2007

report from the Radiance

Joe and Joey and the Radiance Gang have all been having a wonderful time. They charted a 50+ foot sailboat as a group in St Johns and really enjoyed that. Neither one had been on a REAL sailboat since we left the Caribbean so many years ago. I am so glad got to do it in the beautiful, warm blue waters....

They also rented scooters and explored Antigua, got lost a bit so I hear!

The biggest news is that they won the Quest game. Joey made his mom proud if you know what I mean...... LOL That's my son!

Tomorrow is Sea Day for them. They were going to come home this weekend and I told them to go ahead and stay for the duration. Maybe I will get something accomplished next week!

Mary or I will put something on the blog after tomorrow's events...



If you can't get an angiogram.......GO SHOPPING!

After they said, thanks for coming and spending a few hours with us in a hospital gown all wired for sound but we don't need you now.......I got dressed, Mary and I went and did a little Christmas Shopping, bought ourselves some matching jammies for hanging out at home and had lunch! She has been such an angel....we have been having fun. Thank goodness she is here. I would have been very lonely without her. THANK YOU MARY!!!! ;-)

Tuesday back to the hospital for an appt with the Pulmonoligist. He said he was happy to see that my heart and lungs where better than they were while I was in the hospital and proceeded to order more tests including a sleep study...That will be weird.

Wed spent at home catching up. I don't think I got out of my jammies all day. Just lots of phone calls and computer stuff.

Today I left the house at 9am and spent another day down at the hospital....(aren't you sick of the hospital by now??????????????????????????????????????????????????????) Got home around 6pm......

Tomorrow back down for what was supposed to happen Monday. This time with a transfusion first and a possible overnight. Think I will skip the morning diuretics since I won't be able to get up to pee all day....................LOL

Lord, this is a freakin full time job! Thank God I am not feeling sick like so many people in my situation. I don't know how you would get through all this..................or try and work! I am trying to work with a few clients and that is even difficult as I can't always answer my phone or get back to them promptly.

You all have a great Friday....and weekend! Hope you do something fun and festive. Don't forget to tell the people you love how much you do!

xoxoxooxox

So far next week my calendar looks a little easier......Let's hope it stays that way.

I am hoping to get the tree decorated and the nutcrackers up this weekend.



One more thing before bed

I forgot to mention a major contributor to my not just saying *I will be fine, I will see you in 2 weeks* is that one HUGE thing that is evaluated when they go before committee to decide IF I get on the list with UNOS is. Is she compliant? Will she do EVERYTHING we ask her to do? Has she done everything we ask her to do?

If they are going to give me a healthy liver from some family that has selflessly opted to let them harvest organs from a loved one who just passed.....Will the recipient do everything possible to be a grateful recipient and take the best possible care of the new organ which means following all Dr's orders.

So, you can't miss or reschedule an appt or procedure, you have to keep a log of all meds, daily weights and vitals and you certainly don't tell the Dr's to *&%$#@*& OFF, I am going to the Caribbean whether you want me to or not! I would have ended all chances of even getting on the list so here I am........You all know just how compliant I can be.... LOL

Notes from Mary regarding Monday's events


Hi to you all. Here is what happened Monday.
> Had problems at the hospital today. They prep'd Nancy, put IV in, and her blood pressure was
> VERY
> low...110/31...so they did a 'fast' blood analyses. Problem was her clotting factor (INR) (was
WAY OFF (2.2),
> and hemoglobin/platlates were bad too. Since they were puncturing the femoral artery in 2 places
> they were concerned about the blood factors above....so after 2 hrs they opted not to do the
> angiogram.
>
> The purpose of this test was to look at the heart with a contrast fluid to evaluate the
pressures in her heart and how heart valves are functioning. If they had found any
> blockage they were planning to do angioplasty, and if necessary implant a stent....which would
> have meant overnite stay at least.
>
> So the next step is a blood transfusion (platelets, plasma, and whole blood) and immediate
angiogram. We are meeting with the pulmonologist this afternoon and this procedure will probably
occur Friday.
> Worst case is that if they find her heart is deteriorating so quickly due to
> overwork for the bad liver, that she would not survive the 8-12 hrs of surgery in the liver
> transplant operation and she would not be placed on the list. This condition is non-reversable.
Not
> good news.
>
> Also found out that if she does get a liver transplant, they use at least 75 units of blood.
>
I would have put this on the blog, but haven't learned how yet. Love and hugs across the miles.
Mom/Mary

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Nancy throws herself one hell of a pity party!

Yes, it was official. My boys are on the plane on the way to Florida, my cruise critic freaks....(oh, I mean friends) Well, cruising fanatic friends is nicer of which I am a proud member...... and one of my favorite ships afloat the RADIANCE OF THE SEAS.....

I, on the other hand was eating a ciabatta sandwich on my way back up the hill home to spend Thanksgiving alone..... (I told you it was a pity party....you can say.....*oh, poor thing* now)

Actually it wasn't that bad. I felt good about our decision and was happy that at least they were going to get to go and spend time together and I would just live vicariously through them. They promised to keep a journal and take tons of pictures for me.

I did stay home, took a nap with my puppies, watched movies, played around online, thought about writing in the blog.......and ate a Turkey Pot Pie and a baked yam for my dinner....

For my pity party my friends Dave and Aimee.....who was close to celebrating her one month anniversary with her new liver in Texas......generously loaned me some streamers and confetti from the pity parties that they had held over the past few months....... Thank You Dave and Aimee! Btw, Aimee is doing extremely well and will be able to leave Texas to be reunited with her kids and family soon......YEAH, AIMEE!

I made it through Thanksgiving and learned that Mary, just getting off a cruise ship herself, on Saturday would be coming as soon as she could to stay with me, help me and keep me company while the fam was gone. I need to take and post a photo of her and I so you can see my wonderful mother!

I am off to bed now and will try and post some more tomorrow. Oh, I had an angiogram scheduled for Monday which got cancelled. I will cut and paste what Mary wrote as to what happened Monday....

Tomorrow I have another Lung study, a meeting with my social worker, Ben and an ultrasound.

You gotta love friends who make you laugh!

Thanks Lorna!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5z4Vs26-TI



Alright, Alright.....Sorry folks for the delay... I am back to continue the story.

Well, I am going to see if I can go back and fill in a few blanks but I guess I should answer the first question which is.................................... IS NANCY ON A SHIP OR ON THE SHORE?

Unfortunately, I am home. Not that I didn't stay without some kicking and screaming... (Well, more like trying anything I could to go). It didn't work.

On Monday they said have a good vacation, then got some test results back and called to put the brakes on Tuesday afternoon as I was making final arrangement and packing to leave bright and early Thanksgiving morning. Just NOT FAIR!

First they said they were afraid I would fall into a coma on some 3rd world island. Don't they know there are airports on every island and planes to Miami or Texas? BTW, they have said that every day since I was in the hospital 3 months ago...........

Then they said...and this makes more sense...... That looking at my blood results from Monday, my meld score was still at 24. (remember the meld score stands for mortality end stage liver disease....the scale goes from 6 being not good to 40.....well, REALLY not good) over 20 is a very, very scary number. They don't know why I am up walking around....

They said........that they wanted me on the list as soon as possible and needed my body here to keep going through the testing processes, etc so that could happen.

Just a brief overview of the last month..... I saw Dr Mendler and the Transplant team for the first time one month ago tomorrow. Since then I have had over 20 appointments and procedures. That is 20 times in 30 days excluding weekend and holidays....and I am not done yet. Keeps one busy....

My pulmonary function tests and echo cardiogram showed more problems. If my lungs and heart aren't functioning properly it could keep me off the list permanently as I wouldn't make it through the surgery.

So they want to look into them more thoroughly... Hence more procedures....

My appt coordinator....yes, Marielena controls my calendar now... she makes all my appt's for me. My own personal assistant. My time is hers to plan.....Started booking things for me the next day.

On Wed I am back at the hospital going from place to place then I stopped by the transplant office and tried to explain that the reason that I wanted to go so badly and had hung on to this trip is NOT because I needed another vacation or that I WANTED to go on a cruise....(which they see as one big party and a big reason to drink) but that I had no idea what the future was going to hold for me and my family and I just wanted to spend some time with them, swimming in the warm blue waters, snorkeling, exploring new places, laughing and enjoying each other before whatever shit is going to hit the fan does........IT WASN'T THE VACATION....IT WAS THE TIME I WANTED.............................................

Okay, so we had some decisions to make regarding the cruises, yes 2, back to back that we were scheduled to leave on day after *tomorrow*. We went through a huge array of emotions and the decisions went all over the map. In the end I really wanted the boys to go and get away from all of this and spend some father, son time together.....no sense in wasting the cruise and I felt that I would be fine here. They were only a flight away if I needed them.

So, I helped them pack....rearranged a few schedules. Made sure all the t's were crossed and the i's dotted and we got up at 4:30 am thanksgiving morning and I drove them to the airport. We cried, I kissed them and said Bon Voyage......................................



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FUCK

Well, it's MY BLOG and I will swear if I feel like it....

My Doctors just called and my test results are in and guess what they said?

WE DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE ON VACATION. WE WANT YOU IN THE HOSPITAL MEETING WITH THE SURGEON, ETC. ETC...

I am so upset I can't even think straight..

All the formal wear is altered and hanging up ready for packing. Flights, hotels, transportation, excursions all arranged... Joe's time off work.... DAMN...

I'll write more later...just had to get that off my chest so I can breathe................



Monday, November 19, 2007

Today is a new day!

3 days and counting!

Time to line up all the last minute details on the to do list. 1/2 of the *stuff to pack* items are on the guest bed for evaluation. We will just gather until Wed then put things in suitcases. Weigh them...(who came up with that?).

Joey comes home today so I need to help him get organized as well. Joe and I got some of our Christmas decorations out and up yesterday. I was hoping to have it mostly done before we left but that isn't looking to good.

Joe just left the tailor's getting his tux adjusted and picking up some last minute Trader Joe's things for our Turkey Dinner tomorrow night.

One thing I want to make sure we do on this trip is something I sorely neglect most of the time and that is getting some really good photo's of us all.

Gotta run...busy day....hugs
!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Getting ready for some relaxation and fun with friends and family onboard the Radiance of the Seas






Joe and I had a long talk when we were on the Pearl in the Caribbean last month. We have had this Radiance of the Seas trip planned for over a year along with a few other cruises. One of which was a cruise of a lifetime. A 46 day repositioning Cruise to bring the Mariner of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale completely around South America and Cape Horn to the West Coast so she can start sailing the Mexican Riviera out of LA in 2009. She is to large to transit the canal so has to go the long way around. Needless to say we had to cancel a lot of the trips we had planned including this one. There was ONE cruise that I really thought we could still squeeze in and that I really wanted to go on as we were going to be sailing with a WONDERFUL group of people I met on Cruise Critic. Sounds crazy but we had become very good friends...I got so many calls, e-mails and cards from these people when I was in the hospital and I had never met any of them face to face. We decided to do that one if we could.

We also decided that Joey should join us. He had not been to the Caribbean since we left when he was 5 except for a Jamaican vacation week. We really wanted to spend some fun, family time together before things get really messy and our lives get turned upside down. We will be doing 2 cruises on the same ship. One Eastern Caribbean and then one Western Caribbean. Back to Back sailings. We get to stay onboard while one group of passengers is ending their cruise and the new passengers get on. It is a fun experience. Some of the people on our first trip and sailing with us on the 2nd also. We will stopping at 9 different ports and have lots of things planned. Lots of Snorkeling, Diving (not me, lungs) our group has chartered a sailboat, waterfalls in Jamaica, exploring, etc.

It means so much to me to be able to feel good and have this special time to spend with my family. I am not going to THINK about what has been filling my mind except to listen to my body, eat well, rest when I need to, dance when I want to and enjoy. I told Joey that I wanted to climb the rock wall with him while at sea too.

Sooooooooooooooooooo, I am done with Dr's until I get back and am busy packing for the tropics with some dancing dresses thrown in.

A couple of notes....The scar they will leave me with is horrid...so I bought and will wear bikini's...because I can. I can't be in the sun after the surgery for life because of the anti-rejection drugs and a huge risk for skin cancer for some reason....So there will be lots of sun worshiping as well.

I will be posting notes and photo's from the ship for you and for my journal so enjoy!

We leave bright and early Thanksgiving Morning. I am cooking a turkey dinner for Joey and some of his friends home from school on Tuesday so we can make Turkey Sandwiches for the plane!

Friday's Fun

Friday was a full day at Loma Linda. I had 4 appt's that I ran from one to the next. The first and freakiest was a cardiac echo stress test. Maybe some of you have had one. I have had an echo but not the stress part. It took about 1.5 hours total. First they did the regular echo, then about 3 nurses joined the 2 echo techs along with 2 cardiac Dr's (I think they were interns) and the big chesse Cardiologist. There were 7 people and me in this small room filled with machines and me on the table. If you ever have to have this done ask them to explain a little better as to what to expect. They kind of skipped that part.

Basically they inject drugs mostly atropine into your drip line to put your heart under stress like you are excersizing but you aren't moving while they closely monitor all your vitals and take picturs with the echo machine. They keep increasing your heart rate until you feel like it is going to beat so hard it will pop. My head started hurting badly and I thought I would be sick. All the while they are talking to each other about the images and telling the nurses to take it up a notch more cause I wasn't *quite there* yet!

I wasn't quite expecting my body to feel this way and I was telling them *you know my blood pressure and heaart rate are NORMALLY extremely LOW...are you SURE you want to take it HIGHER????? Well, they didn't really care what I wanted THEY wanted it higher....and they got their way....

Then they give you some more drugs to bring it back to normal...

GEEZ....on to my next appt....

After that I had a date with the nutritionist, my coordinator and on to the Pulmonary Lab to get in a pod and breathe and pant and hold my breath,,,,,etc, etc.
no big deal..I was supposed to get a sonogram also but we rescheduled that.

Both the cardiac and pulmonary said they saw some issues but didn't go into much detail and said they needed to do go over them with the appropriate people and I would get my results later...

Both are very important that I pass as either one can kick me out of the running with my quest to get *on the list*...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good News

Yesterday, Joe, mom and myself met with Ben, the social worker. The short version is that everything went extremely well. After a lengthy interview he told us that his preliminary evaluation was *good to go*. I have some requests to fill (homework) for him and have to undergo a couple more tests for him then he will support me when it comes to for the committee to meet.

YEAH !! VERY GOOD NEWS!

Tomorrow, a nuclear med Heart stress test, a meeting with my nutritionist and a bunch of Pulmonary tests...

Don't they know that I need to PACK !!!!!!

Good night, sleep tight.

Fun with Telephone Salesmen...

I have other stuff to post but this was to funny to wait.

I had a REALLY GREAT DAY TODAY.. For some reason with the sun shining, I just felt great. I had *fun* appointments today with my hairdresser who flies in once a month from Wyoming, my manicurist who has been doing my nails for about 10 years and I got my tootsies done as well. I got home and everything was just making me laugh...mostly at myself.

Okay, so a call comes in for me. Joe answers it and hands it to me. It is some guy who is from *kitchen connections* He said we met at a home show at the LA Convention Center last spring and did I remember him and was I still interested in remodeling my kitchen and needing countertops. When I responded not at this time and he proceeded to ignore me and push on the way salesmen do...This is what I told him.

*Actually, I have decided to skip the kitchen this year and get a new liver instead!*...Well, he didn't say anything so I laughed....and said...It is about a half a million dollar investment so that will take up most of our remodeling funds this year.* LMAO.... :-) and I was cracking up.... I apologized to him and said I was sorry for being so blunt and hope I didn't offend him...hung up and Joe and I just busted up.....

So, next time you need to get rid of a telemarketer...now you have something else up your sleeve...

I know..kind of sick, but very funny..................

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Well, today was interesting!

As you can gather from Joe's post today we went to a very *interesting* talk given by my nurse practitioner. She has worked as part of the Transplant Team for 10 years and prior to this was on the Transplant ICU and recovery floors for 8 years. She is very knowledgeable and told us all kinds of interesting stuff with graphs and PICTURES! Well, pictures and stories can be interesting for most people until you are looking at them and seeing what they are going to do to YOU when they open you up..

Actually the information, yes, all of it...was very educational and she explained everything very well. We talked about the surgery itself, what to expect in ICU, recovery and beyond. Then she talked a lot about the drug therapy that Joe described.

The good news is that my mom is here. She along with Joe and Michelle will be my caregivers post surgery and that is a very big job! Mary will actually be my day to day main caregiver as Joe and Michelle will not be able to be at my side 24/7 like I will need at first. It was so wonderful to have her go to this talk with us and she will be with us tomorrow for our meeting with the social worker who has many jobs but mainly he needs to determine if my support network is defined and strong enough to get me through this. That I am strong enough emotionally. That he is satisfied that I will 100% respect the gift of a new organ that a donor family has selflessly offered, which means taking care of myself. So, we do that tomorrow....

By the way, several people have assumed that I am already *on the list* I am NOT *on the list* yet. What we are doing now is going through all the jumps, leaps and hoops with physical, emotional, financial, etc testing...after I have completed all of the things I need to do....THEN, all these various people get together and my case goes before a committee to decide if I get on the list or not...It will be in there hands to see if I am a good candidate to receive a donor liver. There aren't many organs out there and they do not take the decision on who even has a chance at getting one lightly.

So, NO, I am not on the list YET, but am working towards that goal.

Okay, enough for now except to say.....A HUGE HUG AND GIANT THANK YOU for caring enough to follow along and especially for the e-mails and comments here...I read them all and everyone warms my heart...Keep them coming along with the prayers...

I will have more to say tomorrow about something we are excited about that has nothing to do with this!

Good night, snuggle in and tell someone you love them,
Nancy

Immunosuppressants friend or foe

The body is amazing. It has the ability to recognize proteins that can do harm to itself. This is all good when we are concerned with incursions of bacteria, or a virus even the occasional fungi or mold. Sometimes it cannot distinguish between a foreign protein and one of its own then it can destroy itself. So what happens when we put a new liver (a huge mass of foreign substance) into a person. That persons body recognizes the liver as a foreign protein and mounts a massive attack to reject it. The white blood cell and all it's allies rally to eliminate this threat. Well... we want to keep this liver so we must suppress this natural defense mechanism but not much as to allow the bacteria and its allies to take over. What a dilemma. You thought that once the surgery was over the battle was won but now you find that it has only began. Enter the pharmacologist an the juggling act begins...just enough immunity to keep the body healthy, the new liver happy and the patient alive. This life long symbiotic relationship begins.
This is only one part of the marvelous adventure that Nancy is beginning
To think that that we ( man ) can do this is amazing to me.
Tomarrow we visit the social worker.... should be interesting.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Last minute thought

As I take my night time meds. As I check the refridgerator to make sure there are some *ensure* drinks in there to get cold I reflect to a time not to long ago when I would make protein drinks and watch my carbs and fats and now I drink Ensure 2-3 times daily (god, that makes me feel ancient or really ill although they don't taste to bad anymore!) And I make *green drinks* in the morning. Now, I eat whole grain carbs and good fats, and keep my protein low...

When I chart my morning weight it is not to see if the scale is dropping but hoping it stays the same or goes up a bit...

Life is funny. At least I am good at label reading and food logging!

The newness of life

In order to learn something new you must first accept that you do not know it. To fully understand another person, you must let go of your desire to make blind assumptions and judgments about that person.
Turn down the volume and intensity of your own chattering thoughts, and you can hear the music of life. Stop expecting to see what you've always seen before, and new and wondrous beauty will appear in front of your eyes.

When you continue to perform a task the exact same way you've always done it, your effectiveness cannot improve very much. Be open to new ideas and techniques, and you can vastly accelerate your performance.

If you cynically think you've experienced it all, you'll close yourself off from much of life's richness. If you consider yourself smarter than everyone else, you'll be supporting and advancing your own growing ignorance.

Open your mind and your heart to the newness of life that comes with each moment. There is always more to learn, more to experience, more to appreciate and enjoy, no matter how much you've already done.

With each dawning day, a whole new world of possibilities is born. Allow yourself to know and acknowledge their newness, and bring the best of those possibilities to life.

-- Ralph Marston

Feeling GREAT..

Well, it has ben a few days since I posted but that is because I have been feeling great and getting a lot done. The last 3 nights I have also gotten very good sleep. Only up about 3-4 times.

I have been having a LOT of trouble sleeping for quite a while....Maybe a year. Terrible night sweats which leave me and the sheets yucky wet. I try and change into dry night clothes several times during the night to stay dry and the diruetics of course keep me very busy with runny to the potty every hour or so...add in a bit of worry about whatever my nighttime brain decides to focus on that night makes for a rough night. Which is why if anyone tries to reach me in the morning...well, I might be sleeping because I seem to be able to catch a couple of good hours after the sun starts up...and sleep is important for rejuvination...so don't be calling me LAZY....I am trying to heal....

I had my OB check my hormones to find out if the Big M has decided this is a good time to show up...or it is just my liver that is causing the night sweats.

Anyway, back to I FEEL GREAT! I really do...so, I have been running errands, shopping, cooking, working...booking LOTS of Alaska cruises for people for next summer. Joe and I are spending the weekend together and will be packing up the pool furniture for the weekend...and bringing up the Xmas boxes....Well, Joe will be doing most of that as I am not supposed to lift over 25#....makes me laugh when I think how much weight I used to push/lift in a day at the gym. I think on one of our charity lifting events for special olymics I pushed/lifted over 85,000 POUNDS in about 4 hours....Sounds crazy but the figure is correct...

We are also planning to take one last trip before I can't travel so I think I will talk about that tomorrow...

Also have a plethora of appt's next week. Trying to get it all done before we leave.

If you look at the comments we got one from the infamous Aimee last night! She is doing well and makes huge progress now everyday! Go Aimee!

I am turning in now....Have a great weekend everyone. Let's get ready to really enjoy our friends and family during the holidays, the change of seasons, the sights the smells and have fun decking the halls!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I am not crazy or alone....

This is a comment that Dave who is Aimee's husband left under comments. I don't know how many of you know to add or look at the comments but I had to put it here. It made me feel so much better to read his response....Sometimes you wonder if you are going a little crazy and *is it just me or is it hot in here?* Kind of stuff...LOL

Thanks Dave,


WOW, you really hit a nail on the head there. I have been trying to grip that one also. I have had LOTS of people say lots of things that is very close to that. I know that they mean, "Congratulations that there is a way for you to live longer and beat this", but they say it just "congrats" and you are wondering, did you really hear me when I said my wife could die in two months (or your case would be "I could..")?

I guess it goes to what you are focused on! Wait, did i just connect your two posts together. Crap, I might have learned something about meaning and stuff in school all of those years ago!

Keep your chin up and focus on the possibility of many cruises with your family and all of those sunsets and sunrises that you have yet to enjoy!

Focus

Focus

If you focus on resentment, you'll create many more things to resent. When you focus on gratitude, you'll bring many more things into your life for which to be thankful.
Focus on anger, and you'll continue finding additional reasons to be angry. Focus on love, and the opportunities for experiencing love will greatly multiply.

Focus on life's best possibilities, and you'll move steadily in the direction of your dreams. Focus on the things you truly value, and they grow even more valuable.

Focus on what you are able to give, and you'll greatly expand what you are able to have. Focus your energy, your attention, your interest and your passion on some particular thing, and you can make the impossible happen.

Where is your focus most consistently directed? That is where your life is most certainly headed.

By choosing your focus, you choose your lifestyle, the world around you, and your future. Focus on what is truly good and right and valuable for you, and you will be gloriously immersed in that goodness.

-- Ralph Marston

One of the weird things that are bugging me

Ok, This just seems odd to me. I haven't mentioned that I am headed towards an organ transplant to many people...Well, except those of you reading this. Not something you just bring up at a cocktail party....LOL, maybe a good place to do so...BUT, more than once when I have mentioned it the response that I get is
CONGRATULATIONS !!
... Well, I don't know about you but it just always makes me want to whip my head around and say
HUH,? WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY???
. I mean, yes, I do feel blessed that I have a chance to have a much longer life by having a transplant than without. I feel grateful that the Dr's, medicine, and the donors make it possible for me to get a new liver and I have great hope that it will save my life.

Now, having said that....after all the things I have gone through and looking forward to what it will take to make this all happen.......I am not sure that when someone says to you. *By the way, I got hit by a truck last week and I am about to have it run back and forth over me a bit before almost killing me....it is going to be a pretty bumpy ride, but the chances are good I will make through alive.*

That the comment *CONGRATULATIONS* is the appropriate sentiment.?????????????

To me you tell someone congratulations, like when the say, I just got a promotion, we are having a baby, she said *yes*.....etc.....but not when someone says *hey, I just found out they are going to rip one the most important organs in my body out and replace it with another one and hope it works.....??*

Oh, well, got that off my chest now......this is a place or my emotions as well. I need to get them off my chest somewhere so this is a good a place as any...

Till later,
Happy Nancy

Could we fit anymore appt's into one day?

Well, yesterday was a very busy day. I was down at Loma Linda Medical Center with about 7 hours of appt's and 2 hours driving. Ultrasounds, Mammograms, more blood tests to check hormones, a couple of hepatitis vaccs just to get started on those, the normal OB stuff....Then I went on to my meet my financial advisor. We had a very interesting conversation about my health insur, along with all the cost associated with this and what was to come...The surgery costs weren't a surprise as they were in the ballpark of what I had been hearing and reading about. This did surprise me......My immunosuppressant drugs for the first few months out of the hospital. I.E. *my prescriptions* will run about $5,000 a month. Cuts right into my cruise budget......damn $5,000 a MONTH??? We are looking into that. And I learned that I will be on immunosupressant drugs for the rest of my life. I didn't know that. If I don't take them I will die. Can you guess what bill is at the top of my *must pay* list? Yep, my health insurance. Needless to say my financial person and I have some work to do. I will be having a good friend taking over all my financial stuff when I go into the hospital and after for me.

Joe is thinking of some big work changes as well and we are trying to make some big decisions regarding that.

I was pretty tired last night. Joe and I visited, watched some TV and then he slept while I tossed and turned...(I slept in this morning)

Today I am playing catch up at home and with my Travel Agent stuff. I have a bunch of clients and friends sailing soon. Gotta get some stuff off to them and finalize some paperwork. Then tomorrow it is back down the hill for some more stuff.

I am trying to find a yoga studio to start at but am having trouble finding it open. Working on that.

My internet friend Aimee got out of the hospital yesterday *YEAH*. More about Aimee and Dave's adventures are on their Blog. All I can say about that is WOW......amazing.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What a beautiful day....

I had a really good day today and got a lot done. Looking forward to Joe coming home soon. Tommorrow I do the OBGYN, have a mammogram a meeting with the Financial Counselor and my first support group meeting.

Take care of each other!

Dave and Aimee's Blog

I forgot that Dave said he would be happy to share his and Aimee's Blog for those that are interested in what they are going through. She is I beleive 3 weeks post liver transplant at this time and still in the hospital. I haven't visited with her yet but Dave has been very supportive regarding my situation and we have had some very nice chats while he is in the hospital with her.

http://daant.blogspot.com

Oh, and please feel free to share ours with others who I might have missed sending it to....especially my Cruise Critic friends and Cruise Inc Family.

Happy Monday to all

I just got back from turning in my jug o'pee....lol and having them pull about 10 big tubes of blood from me. And I am off and running today with a bunch of phone calls and a big to do list.

I LOVE that you all are enjoying the blog and really like the comments that are being left in the comment section accessable below each blog by clicking on it by you. It makes it more of a community blog and I appreciate the comments and the way that contributes to the blog both for me and for others. I look at this as a very cool way to keep a diary of my thoughts and yours in one place for us to go back to in the future and remember......

Gotta run for now. Be back later...........Have a happy and healthy day!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

From my new friends Dave and Aimee in a hospital in Texas right now.

I am going to post a comment from Dave. His wife luckily in just the nick of time got a new liver. I found their blog through a yahoo group I have been reading of other Transplant stories... It inspired me to start this one. I will ask his permission to post a link to his if you want to look at it. We have chatted a few times on Yahoo IM and got some wonderful feedback and hope from him...Gotta love the power of the internet!

Nancy,
Wow to see what we had to do just a month ago but now for you is wild. They had all the teams come visit us because of the truly dire situation we were in. We did it in about 36 hours after arriving in Texas. The entire week before the hospital in Hawai'i had done a great deal of pre-work so it could go so fast. Let me tell you from experience, your liver is VERY critical. From the completion of surgery it was only a matter of hours and everything in my wife started coming back (BTW my wifes surgery was 7ish hours). From about an inch from deaths door to the surgery to walking was just under 3 weeks. A good liver does wonders. Take care of yourself, review those notes OFTEN and trust your support team. If your husband and friends suggest you do something, just do it. They are on the outside of your body and can sometimes see better than you what's going on with you. Just some advice, do what you think is right. Take care and have faith.

Dave

What Happened at our evaluation with the Transplant Team. And I do mean TEAM!

WELCOME TO THE SCARIEST DAY OF MY LIFE! Monday was here...October 29th, 2007

I was told that when meeting with the Transplant Team... That it was best to bring the important people involved in your health care and support team with you. There are lots of things beyond your current health situation that eventually come into play when THEY decide who ends up as a good candidate for receiving a new organ or not. As you know organs are in very short supply and they want to make CERTAIN that you will be able to accept and take care of the generous new organ you are lucky enough to receive.

I will go over some of the things that includes later but I do have to tell you it is an exhaustive list.

I brought with me, Joe of course, My wonderful friend Michelle (who I mentioned earlier, my nurse friend and rock), and myself. Mary would have been included also but she was on her way to Florida to spend family time there. She will also be a big part of my support team. We, including all of the Medical Team will be forming one team.

They had requested all of my medical records several weeks ago and called me to say they wanted to see me. First we met with the Nurse Practitioner who took an intensive background interview as well as a physical. Then the Dr came in. Dr Mendler. he had visited me in the hospital at the end of my stay. I do believe he is actually the reason that they sprung me.

What he said to me is actually sort of a blur. Michelle was taking notes feverishly. (good nurse that she is!) Basically what he said is YOU NEED A NEW LIVER AND YOU NEED IT FAST. He also said that with my meld scores staying so high that I would be near the top of the list as soon as I got on it so it could happen fairly fast. Especially because I have a common blood type and am otherwise fairly healthy. They are worried about my lung and heart functions as those *could* knock me off the list. Some of that depends on whether the conditions with those is happening because of my liver failure or not.

Who new you needed your liver so much or that it was responsible for so much stuff in your body?????

I was told that the actual surgery regarding a liver transplant is one of if not the most complex and difficult surgeries they do including, brain surgery and heart transplants....it can take from 7-11 hours. Your liver is attached to EVERYTHING.

I was also told that if the surgery itself is successful and they can keep you from rejecting the new liver that it can be extremely successful and add many good years to your life.

Then we saw the Transplant Coordinator, Judith. She went over everything that we had to do next.....That was when my head really started spinning....

I have classes to attend. LOTS of specialists to see, plus, I have to get up to date on about 10 vaccinations, get a clearance from my dentist, gynecologist has to complete an entire work up including mammogram, the regular stuff and some more, heart dr, lung dr, nutritionist, financial counselor, social worker,classes, support groups.....are you tired yet? Thank God I feel well, I would hate to think I had to do all this if I was really feeling ill. Everything is about a 1 hour drive from our house with no traffic each way so I am trying to make several appt's at a time.

My little hospital stay was over $60,000. This is a $500,000. procedure not including aftercare.

Time for a pee break....have to go grab my container....LOL

Joe

Blogging is very new to me but I think this will be good for all of us so here goes...
Nancy looks and acts like she's feeling great. Sometimes I look at her and think that someone made a mistake... but alas the numbers don't lie. I do remember the times that she was vomiting and so sick that she would hardly get out of bed. I am afraid we will see more of those days before this is over and I'm glad that we can enjoy these " good times" now.
Well I must get back to work but now that I have tested the waters I will be blogging more.
ps; I hope this works... here goes

One night on the Pearl 9/28/07






I am playing with posting photos. This is one from our dip in the hot tub before dinner on our one night on the Pearl with our friends from the Bay Area, Tom and Kim Fitgerald. Kim and I have been the best of friends since high school...We saw almost everything on the ship in just one night! By the way, I *think* you can click on the photo and enlarge it....

oh, by the way

For those of you new to the world of *the blog*.....like me...... The story starts at the bottom. The last post is always at the top... DUH....

WOW THIS IS FUN !!!!

I woke up this morning to lots of comments both posted here..look under comments, you can click on the link and read them, and via e-mail. HOW FUN!!!! Some people did ask if they could continue to call or e-mail and the answer is OF COURSE, and PLEASE DO. As I said I feel great now and love to talk.....ME??????

This just makes it easy to put my thoughts and what is going on in one place where you can all check.....and with some things coming down the road....well, I won't be able to give you all reports and Joe and my caregivers can *report in here...

I am off to drink my morning ensure and make some oatmeal with blueberries...my favorite breakfast. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Today I am supposed to *pee in a jar for 24 hours* so I had to go tape up the lids of the other potties so I don't slip up....LOL More fun at the Real's. So needless to say I plan on staying home today and having a lazy Sunday....(Joe is working today, bless his heart, so we can go on one more quick vacation......more on that later)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

next up

All about my meeting with the Transplant Team and what the future holds.

enough medical stuff for now

During the last couple of months we did have a few short cruises booked so we decided to see how I would do since we were close to home. I did take it easy, we had fun and to follow Dr's orders it was easy to eat several times a day. The point of this is not to gain weight but to provide my body with enough incoming fuel so that it doesn't have to break down fat cells to get energy which could be extremely harmful to me. It is great to have healthy (and not so healthy) food available and made just for you 24/7!

After a couple of local cruises, one with some of our best friends, Tom and Kim, we went on a one night *party in the pacific* on the brand new NCL Pearl. What fun. 2 weeks later Joe and I boarded her again in Miami for my annual Travel Agent Conference for a week. We also sailed with some good friends that we met on a previous cruise up the coast and some friends I met in FL at my training in June.(that is where the Grand Cayman photo came from). They had a run, run, run schedule from dawn until late. I went to about 1/2 of the meetings and events and spent some time enjoying the ship, the sun and my husband. Time is short, have fun...Although, no disco for me and we were in bed by 11 most nights.

Some weird observations by me....I have lost quite a bit of weight, look very tan, (even though I haven't spent much time in the sun) and feel quite good. My local friends keep telling me how good I look and I thank them and think to myself...How can that be when my Dr's keep telling me how sick I am and am worried I could fall into a coma.....?????

I go through things in my mind like..........do I just enjoy every moment, every ray of sunshine, hug and play with my puppies and spend all the time I can with my loved ones? OR Do I sort the mail, pay the bills, book my clients cruises, do laundry, run errands.... Will this be my last Christmas or will I live to a ripe old age...?????

One other comment. If I had the big *C* there would be information, support groups, books, websites and all kinds of stuff on what to do, eat, etc.....etc...

Just try and look for information regarding Liver Failure. There isn't much.......takes a lot of digging.

What now? Between then and Monday

Well, we officially started on the roller coaster ride of trying to gather good information to see what might be in our future and my emotional ride of would I live or die and how could I steer towards the path of life most effectively.

Do I work like hell to try and save the liver I have while all the time I could risk my other organs not holding up from the pressure and therefore not be eligible for a transplant OR do I pursue a path of transplant and the scary notion of someone ripping a hugely essential organ out of your body and replacing it with a strangers and hoping (crossing fingers and lots of praying) that everything will work according to plan.

Personally, I like my own liver, thank you very much, and really would like to keep the organs God gave me working.

In researching options including transplants with the help of my WONDERFUL FRIEND, MICHELLE, a very talented and knowledgeable nurse. I learned that getting a new liver was NOT an easy process. Not everyone qualified to be on the list and then you have to wait for a liver that is meant just for you. (You will be hearing from Michelle...she will also be posting here as well as Joe and my mom, Mary.....Joey may jump in as well)

My Dr at the time was monitoring me closely and was not talking transplant to much and would steer me towards giving it more time to heal.

Not getting many answers or a path to follow was really driving me crazy. Give me a goal and a way to get there....well, THAT I can follow and do something about. This vague direction was frustrating at best. Which by the way is one reason why I really couldn't answer your wonderful phone calls and e-mails....I didn't have much to report. Well, that all ended when Dr Runyon told me on my last visit that it was time to have a meeting with the transplant team for an evaluation.

Let's give this a try!

As most of you know I was had a nice hospital stay of almost 3 weeks at the end of August. I got there via the ER and Joe after being a pretty sick puppy off and on for about a year. It was my liver. I knew that but didn't really know or want to know how bad off I really was. I was trying to be strong and thinking I would get better after stopping all alcohol in May and trying to eat healthy and get enough rest, etc. but my body still wasn't a happy camper.

When I was finally admitted after much poking and prodding the nice Dr's at Loma Linda Medical Center told me that basically my liver wasn't functioning AT ALL. My lungs were not working to capacity, my hearth had a leaky heart valve, I had a huge build up of fluid, (ascites) not much in my abdomen but my legs and feet were HUGE. When they put me in bed for several days it all moved to my rear....boy, that was attractive!

Also, my blood clotting factors were very low, as well as my hemoglobin, which let to a blood transfusion. (it is still very low)

I had all kinds of Dr's visiting, lots and lots of tests, etc. Finally my liver specialist came in one sunny afternoon. I was all alone and he proceeded to tell me that I had over a 50% chance of not leaving the hospital alive.... WHAT ???????? OMG.... That is something you never want to hear and here I was alone. He delivered the news and left.... (I have a new Dr now).

There is a term we will talk about a lot which is my MELD score. It is the Model for End Stage Liver Disease. it is a numerical score that they get by calculating your Creatinine, (kidney function), INR (blood clotting factor) and Bilirubin, (liver, bile function).

6 Is less ill
40 is gravely ill

My score upon admittance to the hospital was 37.

Now it is hanging around 27 which is still way to high and it is staying there.

To end this post since my release I have felt increasingly better. I actually *feel* great even though my Dr's don't know why. They say I should be much sicker than I am. My kidneys are FINE and that is what is saving my life right now.

I have had a myriad of Dr's appts, and labs. Joe and I have been researching like crazy, I am trying to rest and listen to my body. Stress and getting overtired could be very bad for me right now. Also not eating....THEY WANT ME EATING ANYTHING I WANT AND ALOT OF IT! First time for that. I am trying to be very positive and have fit a few short cruises with the love of my life in.... Part 2 in a minute..... I need to pee...(diuretics are such fun!)