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........

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

As we begin Year #2 in this Journey..........our new beginning at Scripps

I want to write a bit and tell you about our visit to Scripps Green Transplant Center and my feelings about going there.

First of all I want you to know that I was hesitant for a long time to pursue health care outside of Loma Linda with whom I have entrusted all my beliefs, hope, support and extraordinary medical care to.

On some level I felt a sort of waywardness about this. Like I was being unfaithful or something. Like a child venturing into an unknown world. I didn't want the people I trust to feel betrayed. This includes my Doctors, my transplant team, my wonderful friends in my support group and even you, my readers. Odd isn't it? I have spent the last year of my life following their lead and I have learned so very much.

Most of you know that I am also very pro-active in most everything and especially my own health right now. I want to know what ALL my options are. Get different opinions from EXPERIENCED, KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE. Leaders in their field. I need to get a feeling that the general consensus among the experts is that I am doing the best thing for the condition that *I* am in. My body and my situation may be similar to lots of others that are suffering from End Stage Liver Disease but it is uniquely different that anyone elses also.

I have continually had/have an internal battle with Do I keep my God given liver as long as possible and be thankful for the health I do have and wait patiently OR do I do as my mother taught me and that is pursue the thought that *God helps those who help themselves?* and explore ALL my options.

As you can tell I finally chose the later. (Always listen to your mother!) And after discussions with my LLU Dr's, my transplant team, friends, family and extended family the consensus is that we/I should do whatever is necessary to do the best thing to keep me alive! That means getting a new liver, a GOOD liver at a great transplant center with a high level of long term success. And following my instincts.

Joe took the day off from his patients and came with me to meet Dr Hillebrand and some of his staff.

We were more than impressed with our visit. His staff is friendly, helpful, knowledable and respectful. So was he. We really liked Dr H. We spent about an hour together. He went over my medical history with me carefully and we spoke about all the steps that would be needed to be dual listed, how the transplant centers coordinated efforts to reduce duplication of tests and visits along with what would happen when the time for transplant came and follow up.

The next step after meeting him is to meet with the rest of the Transplant Team. The Surgeons, the social worker, and the coordinators which I can do with one more visit which we arranged to do on 9/15. After that my case will go before *the commitee* just like before to decide if I should be placed on thier list. There are more details on all of this early in my blog.

So, we are off to the races!

After my meeting on the 15th I will continue my regular care, Dr appointments, Labs and other testing at Loma Linda and we go back to waiting for the call.

Right now, I was informed that I may be the *highest B blood type* they have on the list. If not I am close. So, in reality by dual listing I will most likely have my transplant in San Diego as that is the way the #'s are in my favor.

One thing that I want to share with those of you who are suffering from any kind of disease or are the caretaker of someone who is....

#1. Find a really good or great Doctor that has experience, is well respected in his/her field, that will answer your questions and lay out all your options for you. YOU CAN FIND ONE.... They are out there.

I did spend 2-3 years running around in circles trying to get help from Dr's who didn't know what to do with me except pass me around. 2 weeks before I ended up in the hospital with a MELD of 37 and my Doctors saying I might not make it, I was in my *regular* Dr's office BEGGING for him to send me SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE that I could get help! I looked like death warmed over, bright yellow, my body totally swollen all over, legs as big as tree trunks, feverish, I had been vomiting, was terribly constipated, lost 30# because I couldn't eat, crying for help, all kinds of nasty things, and he told me once again to get blood drawn, and come back in 3 weeks... I was almost dead in 3 weeks. I might not be waiting for a liver transplant if I had found a good Doctor earlier. (the only reason I ended up in Loma Linda was I told Joe I needed to go to the emergency room and to take me directly to LLU....)

SO FIND A GOOD DOCTOR....then listen to and trust them.

#2 Educate yourself. Learn. Find GOOD information about what your body is doing and what you can do to help yourself. Your Doctor can be good but they are also VERY BUSY. There is no way you will get all your information just from your Dr.

It is your responsibility to learn about your disease, your symptoms, what is *normal*, what to watch out for, and what the future holds. You can learn a lot from people who have the same thing. You can find them online and in support groups. I have learned invaluable information and gained alot of hope from my support groups.

#3 Write things down. Keep a health journal. If you can't, have a loved one keep track of things. Your weight, your drugs, your diet, blood pressure, appointments, attitude. Anything that is relative. Show it to your Dr. Write down your questions. Go to your Dr appt's prepared.

#4 Let your Dr's and medical staff know when something isn't right. Now that doesn't mean they need to know you stubbed your toe but if something is really a problem, DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT to let them know. Make a phone call and tell them. Let them decide if it is important.

#5. Be proactive. It's your life. You have people who love you and care about you. You need to care about you. Share with them, spend time with them and yourself. Enjoy life, especially the little things. You may not be able to do all the things you once did so enjoy OTHER things...
go outside, people watch, pet your dog or kitty, hug your kids, take up a new hobby, be nice to the people around you....

Those are my thoughts tonight as we start year 2 in this adventure...Gosh, I am ready to go through the next step of this but I am faithful that I am doing what I can and I do have patience even though it may not sound like it.

Good Night !!!! God Bless.......

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