More Recovery: The Hours after Surgery

My recovery is going so well that my wife is hinting that my pass on doing household chores is fast coming to an end.  Last night was a night I would normally have done the dishes.  She loaded the dishwasher for me, but didn’t start it, to see if I would at least do that much.  Of course, nothing was farther from my mind.  I guess that’s why she felt she had to mention it.

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After the time in the recovery room following my surgery on April 3, the time in my hospital room was quite pleasant.  In fact, I felt great.  This was probably a combination of relief that the worst was over and the result of the drugs having their full effect.

Because of renovation on the transplant floor, I ended up in a private room, and appreciated this enormously.  I didn’t have to overhear someone else’s TV, or have them endure overhearing my phone calls.

My kids let me know later how much they enjoyed my drugged-up phone conversations that day, listening to me explain, as if they didn’t know, that morphine might be contributing to my good feelings and that it is sometimes misused as a recreational drug.

Eventually I checked out the scars on my belly.  Three were very small, used only for the laparoscopic instruments.  The other had been lengthened to a two and a half inch incision for the kidney removal.

There were five things now attached to me.  Liquid dripped from a bag overhead into my arm through an IV, providing both food and pain medicine (Dilaudid).  Oxygen entered my nose.  A catheter drained urine as soon as my remaining kidney made it, into a jug that was always measured.  Since the urine never built up in my bladder, I never had to give any thought to “going,” allowing me to stay in bed the rest of the day.  This was good, since I sure didn’t want to get up.

The other two things attached to me were bags that surrounded my legs to keep the circulation going.  The bags would periodically inflate and deflate, their motion reminding me of our cats at home when they would nestle at my feet while I slept.

The nurses provided a lot of meds, including anti-nausea and anti-constipation drugs (to counteract the pain medicine), something to keep my red blood cell count up, and a blood thinner to prevent clots.

Mary Beth’s presence throughout was a big reason why resting there was so pleasant.  I had recently read that holding hands with a loved one reduces stress, and I made full use of that knowledge.

She took the National Kidney Registry up on their offer of a hotel room for her for that night.  Since we only live 40 minutes away, we wouldn’t have thought of this ourselves, but it was great for her to not have to travel.

That night, everything that was hooked up to me was removed, but I still could not sleep.  I was not allowed to sleep on my stomach, which is my habit.  Also, the regular checks of my vital signs continued all night, at least every two hours.  How does anyone sleep in a hospital?  Even a video channel showing nothing but waves upon an ocean shoreline didn’t help.

The next morning, with my wife’s help, I sat up.  Then I took my first steps.  It wasn’t bad, but I was soon ready to lay down again.  Later, Mary Beth and I walked all around the hospital floor.  I felt stronger by the hour.

My pain medicine was now Percocet, which includes oxycodone.  I was encouraged to ask for it before the pain got too bad and hard to control.  So I did, and this worked well for me.

Early that afternoon I was washing my face in the bathroom when Dr. Geffner stopped by.  He told me how well the surgery had gone, was satisfied with my recovery, and said I could be discharged that day.  That was exactly what Mary Beth wanted to hear.  I was okay with that too, as long as we took more of the day for me to rest up before we dealt with the move home.

That afternoon, five members of the medical center’s Living Donor Institute visited.  They had had concern about tornadoes which had closed a major airport in the state to which my kidney was headed.  But fortunately the airport where my organ was going did not close.

I also learned that in the chain my kidney began, the donors did not wait.  They paid forward their kidney to someone else even before the kidney for their loved one arrived.  That sped up the process.

So Marie Morgievich, Manager of the institute, gave me the news.

“Yesterday, four people all got kidneys due to your donation.”

All the recipients and donors were doing well.  I started to get a bit emotional.

But I didn’t let that get too far.  I could feel that any shaking in my midsection was causing the area of my incision to really hurt.

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About Ray Mueller

Husband, father, Christian, pro-life, kidney donor, video producer & editor
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3 Responses to More Recovery: The Hours after Surgery

  1. Marianne says:

    Great reading again — I do enjoy learning about your journey. How great it must feel to know your donation counted for four — so proud of you !!

  2. Virgie says:

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    this wonderful educational post here at my home.

  3. Bell says:

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