Testing and Trusting: Preparing for the Surgery

For the most part I’ve enjoyed the medical preparations for kidney donation.  I’m not sick.  I wasn’t in an accident.  I don’t have to worry about the cost.  I have a good excuse to take time off from work.  I can relax, and when I do, I find much of the testing process interesting.  A notable exception:  the second 24-hour urine collection!

Another notable exception:  my colonoscopy, or rather, the preparation for it.  At first I thought I’d get out of it because I’d had one within five years.  But then the five years expired.  My second one gave me a chance to see what being put to sleep was like, but other than that my first colonoscopy was more interesting.  I had the first one without any anesthesia.  It was a little painful for a few seconds when the scope had to navigate a couple bends in my colon.  But being a video guy, I enjoyed watching the whole thing on screen as the doctor gave me a live tour of my large intestine!

Another time, for that pesky microscopic blood in the urine issue years ago, a cystoscopy was done and the doctor showed me a video image of the inside of my bladder.  I couldn’t really make out what I was seeing but I remember the doctor saying “Here are the two holes.”  I didn’t ask him what I was thinking:  there are two drains in my bladder??  Only later did I realize one was the input and one the output.

Anyway, it’s good I don’t mind these tests too much because some are repeated.  For the preadmission testing I had a second EKG and chest x-ray.  Again, blood was drawn, this time 22 vials of it!  Eight were shipped off to the recipient’s hospital.  The nurses did admit that some of them were spares.

I suppose a lot of my tolerance and interest in all this testing is excited anticipation of making the donation.  So tomorrow it will happen, by the grace of God.  It will be the first time I’ve been a hospital inpatient since the week I was born.

We’ll see how much I enjoy this experience after the surgery.  I’ll be given two anesthetics, one of which will be propofol (yes, the one made famous by Michael Jackson’s demise), to both put me to sleep and paralyze my body.  I’ll be connected to a respirator to monitor my brain, heart, breathing, etc.

Only one of the four laparoscopes will have a camera (my March 21 blog mistakenly suggested that this would be a multi-camera production).  The other laparoscopes will include harmonic scalpels that cut through tissue via vibration, using high frequency sound waves.

At the operation will be the surgeon, an assistant surgeon, two anesthesiologists, two nurses and an assistant.  It should take about two hours, and when I wake up, I’ll have an IV for food intake and a catheter for urine output.

I have been warned to expect pain.  This weekend I read material online listing dozens of questions to ask the surgeon and other hospital staff prior to this surgery, and encouraging me to develop in advance a pain management plan.

Well, that was written a decade ago.  From what the doctor said, pain management has advanced enormously in recent years, especially since ultrasound will be used to guide a “TAP block” to target a local anesthetic to the nerves of the two-inch incision.  In the recovery room I’ll be given morphine, and thereafter the doctor said to not hesitate to ask for pain medicine.

Perhaps I will regret not asking more questions, but all my impressions of the doctor and medical center are positive and reassuring to me.  The doctor is a nephrologist – a kidney doctor.  I have yet to meet the surgeon, but my confidence in this team and the surgeon’s reputation is such that I am okay with that.

Nevertheless, I woke up this morning worrying that I haven’t done a living will and haven’t make a listing of where all our important financial documents are located.  I had meant to have these done by now.  Instead I’ve been focusing on what brings in income, getting enough of my video work done so that I can leave it for the next couple weeks.

I concluded that I need to have faith and not be concerned that these things aren’t done, at least not any more than usual.  They do need to be done, but anything could happen any day.  Tomorrow isn’t that much more of a risk.  This is in my mind.  But my emotions are something else.  I find myself wondering how bad it would be if I didn’t make it through and these things were not done – as if that were to be the worst of it.

Doubts are real, but faith must prevail, by the grace of God.

About Ray Mueller

Husband, father, Christian, pro-life, kidney donor, video producer & editor
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