I was planning to write about each day in the hospital as it happened. That did not happen...not even close. I can summarize by saying that my time over the last several days was both better and worse than I expected. I'll start with the morning of surgery.
Tuesday morning my alarm was set to go off at 4:00am. I was able to sleep only 3 hours Monday night/Tuesday morning and woke up before my alarm. My very sweet yet very sleepy husband drove us to the hospital for our 5:30am check in. They took me back immediately for labs. The hospital in New Jersey needed some more vials of blood. After the vials were drawn I was told to "guard them with my life". My blood and I went back to the waiting room where we were pretty quickly escorted to another building by a hospital concierge. This lady took us right and left and up and down and kept us well informed every step of the way "ok everybody, now we will be getting OFF of the elevator". We made it to yet another waiting room. They called me in for a urine sample and to take my vitals. I was told I had the best blood pressure of the day so far. When it was time for us to go back to the pre-surgery area I was briefly concerned when I just saw a giant room of empty hospital beds. Another concierge asked me to put on a gown and take off everything else. Thankfully, he motioned to some privacy curtains that I could pull around the bed.
It was a little after 6:00am at this point and within the next hour I spoke with several nurses, the anesthesiologist, the donor coordinator (she took my well guarded vials of blood), the nephrologist and two surgeons. Oh, and my mom also showed up. They all asked me for my full name and date of birth and why I was there. The surgeon signed his initials along with the word "yes" on my left side. I was hooked up to an IV and was very grateful for it to be connected to my forearm instead of my hand. The donor coordinator made a little speech about how my surgery would result in 4 people getting new kidneys that day. At this point my mom and my husband and I all said goodbye and gave one last hug, This was the only time I got a little nervous. The nerves didn't last long because almost immediately after saying goodbye to my family I was given what they referred to as a "margarita" in my IV. I felt it immediately and felt very calm while being wheeled to the operating room. I remember the ride to the room and a few sentences once I got to the room but then I was out.
The next thing I knew I had the strong urge to empty my bladder. It occurred to me that surgery must be over and that I was now probably fitted with a catheter. I wasn't able to keep my eyes open but I could tell that my husband was by my side and I needed to let him know that I didn't know how to use the catheter. I found out later that I told him this several times in a row before switching to the stance of "the catheter is the easiest part". After surgery my husband, my parents and one of my friends were all able to come visit me in the recovery area. I knew they were there but I couldn't keep myself from falling asleep mid-conversation. I would chat with them, fall asleep and then wake up a while later asking the nurse to please call my family to come back to see me. This went on for quite some time until I was coherent enough to understand that they didn't have any beds available up on the 14th floor and that I would have to just wait until something opened up. After being told I would likely be in the recovery area for around 2 hours I ended up spending almost 6 hours there. I wasn't feeling any pain, just incredibly sleepy.
Finally a bed opened up an a guy with the nickname "big sugar" wheeled me up to my new room. My family and friend were up there waiting for me. I remember them telling me it was ok to keep my eyes closed. I think I took another quick nap and then finally felt a little more aware of my surroundings. I still was not feeling sore or nauseated which were my two biggest fears. I was amused hearing the stories from my husband about talking about the catheter over and over and was very thankful to have everyone there. One by one my visitors went home until it was just me and my mother. She agreed ahead of time to spend the night with me. I ended up walking around the 14th floor twice that evening and felt much better than I expected. I had a catheter, a pain pump, IV fluids and a heart rate monitor on my finger. I kept asking the hospital staff when I would be able to get rid of that stuff. The first night I slept a lot but only in short bursts.
If you haven't yet picked up on the foreshadowing, my hospital stay did not end up being all kitties and rainbows. I'll update you on the rest of my stay soon. Thanks to those of you that were checking in on me. I was able to read your messages and texts and emails and they were all very encouraging.